Artists’ studios at Erector Square have been crackling with activity this week as artists straighten out their spaces and make important aesthetic decisions about what to show, and how best to show it, in preparation for the thousands of visitors who will attend their studios during the final weekend of City Wide Open Studios.
Located on Peck Street in Fair Haven in the historic Erector Square complex of buildings, the event offers both guided and self-guided tours of artists’ studios this Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Maps and schedules of demonstrations will be available along with Artspace volunteers to help smooth the way for one of the city’s most anticipated cultural events of the year. It will feature over 100 exhibiting artists.
Rolled up on a section of cardboard construction tubing, painter Margot Nimiroski could barely maneuver her newest and largest painting through the corridor outside her studio (K) in Building 3 Tuesday. The piece was headed out for stretcher mounting in anticipation of the weekend.
A pair of Wassily chairs and Eileen Gray end tables hinted at Nimiroski’s taste in mid-century modern furnishings but also the period of art she said inspires her most. Cans of the latex paint she uses in creating her large, brushless paintings, some still opened, suggested recent creative work in addition to prepping for a busy week of exhibiting.
On a studio wall, a cloud of mist seemed to be breaking over percolating waters in one of the artist’s mood-inducing paintings. “I wake up each morning to a view of Branford Harbor and enjoy interpreting my love of the water in my paintings,” she writes in her brief artist’s statement. Nimiroski notes the similarities of water to the “vast fields of corn and wheat” where she grew up in Kansas and Illinois: “Both are beautiful and inspiring.”
Nimiroski creates her complex atmospherics through a technique of pouring thinned, watery paint onto her canvases and allowing for absorption and some degree of chance to do its work. She then augments this with purposeful manipulation. Semi-abstract and completely abstract works are created without a single brush stroke.
Resting on the floor, a large chunk of twisted, oxidized metal — one of many found objects in her studio whose surfaces seemed to mirror the patinas of some of her paintings — awaited installation. It will have a place of honor on the wall, no less than the works created by her own hand.
Down the hall, Venezuelan-born artist Corina Alvarezdelugo, who earned a BFA from Albertus Magnus College and last year served as artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center, was busy consulting with master framer, art installer, and former Arts Council Award recipient Dwight Pedersen, whose studio is also located at Erector Square.
Alvarezdelugo, a visual arts teacher at St Mary School and instructor at Creative Arts Workshop, is an artist whose studio is filled with examples of her award-winning work in sculpture, painting, encaustic, and mixed media. “As a visual storyteller, I approach my work as a fascinating challenge to overcome, while capturing the essence of an idea or feeling, by organically shifting between media to further enhance my exploration during the creative process,” she said.
The spherical, circular, and spiral symbols that strongly inform Alvarezdelugo’s art can represent the swirling chaos of life, but are also vehicles for “finding the underlying core of unity, in expressing both my inner and outer worlds,” states the artist. Some of Alvarezdelugo’s works reference unfortunate political realities in her birth nation and issues of social justice.
The large, mixed-media images that dominate the back wall of her studio contain groupings of faceless, human forms that seem to emerge or recede from swirling textures and tonalities. The absence of detail in the figures is meant to reinforce the universality of the human condition and experience.
Around half of the artists exhibiting at Erector Square this weekend will be showing work from outside studios. On the second floor of Building 5, mixed-media artist Hilary Opperman will be exhibiting her dense, encaustic collage “tapestries” that explore social justice issues, archetypes, hidden references, and mythology.
“I have a background in painting and political activism, yet my current work is a form of silent protest. My mixed feelings about the world fuel a need to make mixed media work,” said Opperman. “Hilary is interested in the healing capacity of art and using creativity as a means of conflict resistance,” states her artist’s bio.
After culling and organizing images, elements are saturated and fixed with translucent bee’s wax during the encaustic process, yielding new narratives; sealed statements of nature, urban life, children, and sociopolitical musings. Though she employs traditional techniques, images, and materials, Opperman’s compositions resonate with a fresh, contemporary perspective.
As appetizers go, this report only hints at the full-blown banquet of visual art that awaits visitors at Erector Square this weekend, with something for every imaginable taste. Bon appétit!