The Gallery at Elemar is billing itself as a “cultural destination dedicated to providing high quality art, wine, food, and conversation for mindful connoisseurs of fine living.” It is located at Elemar Marble and Granite Company at the end of Gibbs Street, a short residential cul-de-sac off of Shelton Avenue. Elemar owner, Carl Harris, has collaborated with artist and gallery director Mark Krueger in a unique marriage of art and industry.
Its current exhibit—Torsos: The Art of Ivan Tirado, which runs through Jan. 15—features the work of contemporary figurative artist Dr. Ivan Tirado. Torsos, he says, is a tribute to “natural female beauty and a celebration of physical differences.” His clay sculptures, paintings, and pencil sketches represent the “sensibility, strength, and softness of the female figure in a variety of forms and body types.”
With Tirado’s work in the exhibition were the works of other core, resident artists, like painter Frank Bruckmann and sculptor Gar Waterman, both outstanding member-artists at Westville’s Kehler Liddell Gallery.
One of Elemar’s wood-fired ovens, which the company imports from Tuscany along with its granite and marble, was cranking overtime as Elemar sales manager Matthew Harris put his 17 years of pizza-making experience to good use.
Working next to him was Nadine Nelson, one of New Haven’s most recognized chefs, whipping up tasty hors d’oeuvres from artichoke spinach hummus with caramelized onions and fennel to rice crackers with bacon and kimchi country sausage.
If gallery goers felt pampered, it was in keeping with Krueger’s idea of rewriting the traditional gallery concept. For him, the gallery is a place for people to socialize: “We want people to come, make friends, and enjoy the company of others as part of our commitment to the arts community.”
The following day, Krueger could be found at Inside the Box, the exhibit opening at Westville’s Kehler Liddell Gallery (KLG), where he purchased a ballpoint pen drawing by artist Tom Edwards. Krueger said his purchase was made in the spirit of mutual support.
“We are not in competition with other galleries,” he said.
The KLG exhibit, which runs through Dec. 21, displays works by 22 member-artists. Exhibition notes explain the show’s general theme: “Traditionally, artists are known to think outside of the box, but this unique collaboration of the Gallery’s painters, photographers, sculptors, and installation artists presents diverse interpretations of what one might find inside the box instead.”
For artist Joseph Saccio, thinking inside the box meant showing Once a Tree, two, otherworldly mixed media tree forms first created in 2007. The sculptures—made of actual parts of tree and circles of stacked paper—represent a kind of “memorial to trees” reduced to byproducts like paper, noted Saccio.
Liz Antle-O’Donnell makes her debut at KLG with a series of four handsome linoleum prints and paper collages grouped as a unified series.
Gar Waterman’s Diatom Form #1 is a nature-inspired, laser-cut radial design sculpture of bent steel shapes that pays homage to diatoms—unicellular algae that sometimes form colonies in bilaterally symmetrical shapes and forms.
Sven Martson showed his enlarged, glimmering still-life photograph, Silver Utensils #1.
Matthew Garrett offered a more serene photographic still life in Happy, which depicts a Buddha figure centered atop an old-fashioned wooden alphabet block.
Enveloped in layers of encaustic (wax) was Rod Cook’s photographic print collection of exotic, mask-wearing burlesque figures. The staged portraits are mysterious, warm, and for photos, “painterly.”
Branches and bugs surround figures in the deeply psychological acrylic and colored pencil portraits of Julie Fraenkel, who also showed some mixed media boxes.
Sarah Beth Goncarova’s Holiday Shopping, a bold acrylic painting, stands out for its large size and expressionistic brushwork, but also its provocative imagery.
The similarities between the Westville and Newhallville galleries appear in the high-caliber work, already established in one gallery and clearly emergent in the other. Now is a good time to sample the eclectic and superlative offerings at both.