ArtSpot! Spotted Again

Allan Appel PhotoTheater guy Dexter Singleton had heard of visual artist Gregory “Krikko” Obbott‘s work, but had never met him.

That was quickly rectified as the director of Collective Consciousness Theater and the creator of the Hill Museum of Arts on West Street exchanged contact info and arranged a get-together

That was precisely what was supposed to transpire as 40 people convened for the first gathering of ArtSpot!, the Arts Council’s art-inspired networking happy hour that kicked off its new season at the Fred Giampietro Gallery in Erector Square Thursday night.

The six-year run of the first incarnation of the arts-themed social hour ended in February 2008. Back then the gathering was among the first after-work gatherings for young professional in the arts community, and those in allied fields.

The organizer then and now, the Arts Council’s membership coordinator Bobbi Griffith, said that first edition had been successful, spawning other profession-focused after-hours gatherings.

It had also been tough to sustain, with a gathering every month.

ArtSpot! redux will have all the same fun features that were on display Thursday—good food, libation, talk among the art cognoscenti and not-so cognoscenti, music, raffles—but will be mounted only quarterly, said Griffith, and each time at a different art venue.

Why resume?

Griffith responded with a rhetorical question: “In the six years since we stopped, what happened?”

The answer:  social media, making it far easier to get people together. But even with all that Facebooking and Twittering, there still aren’t enough real-face opportunities for artists and those in the allied professions to intermingle, observed the Council’s Executive Director Cindy Clair.

At Thursday’s event, attendees supped and sipped and listened to BFD, the band led by the Arts Council newspaper’s editor, David Brensilver, who described himself as a “recovering percussionist.”

Theater folks Lou Mangini and Peter Chenot (pictured) enjoyed the opportunity to catch up on their adventures in prestidigitation.

“We’re talking about Magician,” said Mangini, whose day job is a senior staffer with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro.

He was referring to Chenot’s New Haven Theater Company’s most recent production of Drew Grey’s play about a stressed out magician.

“I showed Peter a video of me hitting my head,” he added. Mangini is rehearsing A Broken Umbrella Theater Company’s newest show, on the life of A.C. Gilbert, our town’s great toy —and Erector Set—manufacturer. Gilbert was also a touring magician.

Artists Blinn Jacobs and Richard Lytle said they were happy to see the crowd.

Jacobs, whose geometric works fill up the back room at Giampietro, said she recognized few of the attendees. That told her they don’t usually come to art openings; they were here tonight, and that was good news.

Lytle said he loved the space because it accommodates paintings as large as his. The white-walled space accommodated people looking at the works from a wide range of different vantage points.

The rule of thumb is that to take in the whole work of art, you need to stand three times the distance from it as the largest dimension of the work, Lytle said.

“Otherwise you’re scanning it.”

Several of Lytle’s teeming, even scary botanically-inspired images are five feet and more on the long side. So you could party and take in the works, as a whole, from 15 feet away, while you enjoyed the networking.

Lytle’s, who taught at the Yale School of Art for 50 years, is having his first solo show at Giampietro. It’s called No Still Life. 

His and Jacobs’s new works will be on view only through Saturday.

The next ArtSpot! will likely take place in June, location yet to be determined, said Griffith.

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