Sometimes, getting to a destination can be as much fun as the destination itself.
“The ride was already awesome before I got to the first gallery” said Margaret Middleton, one of 27 bicyclists who pedaled to various galleries and art studios around the city during Artspace’s second week of City-Wide Open Studios (CWOS) events.
The group of art explorers, led by Devil’s Gear Bike Shop owner Matt Feiner, launched from New Haven’s Pitkin Plaza Saturday, arriving at their destinations through a variety of alternative routes that included side streets, trails and even “goat path” short cuts, according to Feiner.
Meanwhile, a pair of school buses picked up passengers at 50 Orange St., home of Artspace, for ambitious city wide itineraries. On “Bus A,” a group of passengers headed for West Haven sites before arriving at Westville Village for a walking tour of area studios.
On board was Helen Kauder, executive director of Artspace, who guided the tour. She talked informally about the history of City-Wide Open Studios and the bus tours, which had been discontinued for a number of years for economic reasons. Kauder also had some surprising answers to passenger questions about her role as Artspace director: “I am not an artist,” she said, noting that Artspace was founded by artists and that most staffers are artists. Kauder said her background is in banking and finance. She sees her role as “bringing the perspective of the audience” to the organization.
The tour began with a stop at The University of New Haven’s Seton Gallery for the “Constructed Ecology” installation featuring the work of Summer Artists-in-Residence Michael Galvin and Kyle Skar and featured artists Lisa Amadeo, Nicki Chavoya and Gary Velush. The exhibit “aims to enhance the viewer’s spatial perception using sound, light video and texture.” The gallery floor, covered in actual grass sod, adds an interesting olfactory experience to its auditory, spatial and visual components as it “encourages one to challenge their perception of curated and regulated spaces from the that of nature and the wilderness.”
Skirting the New Haven border in West Haven is West Cove Printmaking Workshop & Gallery at 30 Elm St., the second stop on the CWOS tour. Bike and bus tours converged at the gallery, the site of an old factory building that also houses an antiques flea market on a lower floor.
A broad variety of styles and media were on display at the gallery. Artist Kevin Harty showed his three-dimensional textile “paintings,” whose elements, as in his painting “Katrina,” are saturated in dye color and then dipped in a variety of glues and binders to freeze or capture gravity’s affect on fabric drapery. Harty said that swaths of clothing often found molded around fixed items, like tree trunks in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, inspired the piece’s cascading layers of color, pattern and texture.
Danbury-based mosaic artist Siovhan Hutcherson said that after years of creative expression in a variety of mediums, she discovered her “most perfectly suited medium” with the creation of her tapestry mosaics. Hutcherson’s compositions, which draw from her palette of life experiences, combine qualities of stained glass and mosaic within the context of a strong graphic presentation of shimmering light, color, texture and movement.
West Cove Gallery’s generous spaces are well suited to accommodating larger art works as in the boldly graphic painting of Tony Kosloski, whose 6’ x 18’ acrylic-on-paper painting is invigorated by its immense size. Additional artists exhibiting as part of CWOS were Ellen Hoverkamp, Susan Nichols, Cole Tucker-Walton, Douglas Nygren, Nomi Lubin, and Thomas Stavovy.
West Haven’s Allingtown section is home to an eclectic group of artist and artisan studios located at 14 Gilbert St. in a former printing factory. Jeff Carter, owner of The Westmount Group, a custom furniture designer and maker, displayed one-of-a-kind artisan pieces whose tapered legs and clean lines exhibit a strong Shaker and mid-century modern aesthetic. Carter noted that a time-consuming part of their furniture making is the painstaking selection of wood stock ultimately transformed into heirloom-quality pieces.
Painter and art professor Chris Barnard, a graduate of Yale and the University of Southern California, showed images that “examine connections and gaps between landscape painting and contemporary socio-political concerns, specifically U.S. power and imperialism,” according to his artist’s statement.
Mark Potter is both painter and, well, potter. His studio displayed numerous examples of his versatility as a ceramicist and sculptor, but also featured his large vertical, banner-like paintings with strong calligraphic qualities. Other 14 Gilbert St. artists participating in CWOS included Julian Gilbert-Davis, Sy Gresser, Brent Howard, Martin Kersels, and Charlotte Lichtblau.
A major destination of the bus tour was the number of private studios in Westville Village anchored by the Arts Lofts West (ArLoW) artists’ group. Studio stops included visits with recent ArloW arrival, figurative and landscape painter Drew Lantrip.
George Corsillo and Susan McCaslin of Design Monsters displayed a trove of graphic design work including book and poster design work, assorted artifacts and some of the fine art pieces of Susan McCaslin who will be showing at the Goffe Street Armory alternative space on Oct. 26 and 27.
John Keefer showed large format, figurative paintings from his evocative “Cathedral” series.
At DaSilva Gallery, Strange Weather, an exhibit of monotypes by Liz Pagano, who also exhibited at Erector Square, added music to the mix with special guest musicians Willie Moore (bass) and notable blues guitarist George Baker.
Painter Frank Bruckmann’s backyard studio on West Rock Avenue displayed a collection of his masterful landscapes and portraits combining new work and pieces from past exhibits at the nearby Kehler Liddell Gallery.
A few doors down, sculptor Gar Waterman’s sea-life inspired forms filled the formal gallery. Waterman could be found in his studio, where he discussed his commission-in-progress, a sculpture that will find a home at Dartmouth College when completed.
CWOS “Bus A” tour concluded with a stop at the home of West Park Street painters Lenny Moskowitz and Katie Kindilien before returning to Artspace. Kindilien, who teaches art at Edgewood Magnet School, displayed landscapes painted during a recent trip to Tuscany as well as several still life pieces. Moskowitz, who is known for his color saturated landscapes, displayed a painting series inspired by the active paper collages he creates.
City-wide Open Studios continues on Oct. 26 and 27 with Alternative Space Weekend, a slate of events scheduled at the historic Goffe Street Armory, 290 Goffe St. It will include local and visiting artists from across the state. For more information, click here.