There were no claps of thunder or flashes of lightning. There was no wind or precipitation to speak of. But on an uncharacteristically warm October night, Strange Weather—Works on Paper, an exhibit featuring the prints of New Haven artist Liz Pagano, was on the radar of those attending Westville’s DaSilva Gallery.
The collection of over 25 encaustic and mixed-media monotypes by the prolific Creative Arts Workshop instructor were culled from the artist’s studio by gallery owner Gabriel DaSilva. In many ways the reception was a preview of a scheduled Oct. 19 opening at DaSilva Gallery, part of the annual, City-Wide Open Studios Passport Weekend event that will also feature blues guitarist George Baker.
Among those in attendance at Saturday’s preview opening was print maker Oi Fortin, whose exquisite exhibit The Sixth Sense closed on Oct. 2 at the gallery. Fortin, who is a close friend of Pagano, said that the artist’s strength lies in her innovation.
Fortin noted a long list of media in which the artist works: “Encaustic, jewelry, Plexi-glass, multimedia and collage are just a fraction of the things she does—and she’s the best baker.” Of the work itself, Fortin described it as,“focused—she lets it rise.”
The baking metaphor was not lost. Pagano’s images do betray a patient process in which design ingredients—color, textures, discreet shapes, drips and tonal bands commingle to form her abstract imagery. The prints also combine agitated marks and somewhat transparent layers that allow the eye to move in and out of the image.
Many of the one-of-a-kind prints have suggestive vignettes that evoke sweeping and dramatic landscapes. Pagano said she didn’t set out to create landscapes. “Nor did I resist them when they appeared within the overall image. I just went with it. I just let it happen.”
Some of the pieces stir associations with meteorological phenomena, much like the show’s namesake, Strange Weather. Pagano said that while weird weather patterns seem to be emerging as the new norm around the planet, her images also reflect the extreme changes that occur internally as she evolves as a person and artist. “The part I can’t control keeps me chasing/searching/moving. My process is about exploring interactions of chance and control of coincidence and intent” reads an artist’s statement in part.
While Pagano is known for her explorative mark making that began almost 25 ago, others may be more familiar with her sculptural concrete and paper lamps, created in collaboration with potter Hayne Bayless. The restless artist is nothing if not versatile. “Friends call me, ‘The Creator’. If you put something in front of me, I’ll make something out of it,” she said only half-kidding.
Pagano’s “Strange Weather” runs through Nov. 2. For more information contact Da Sailva Gallery. To see more work by Pagano, visit her open studio for City Wide Open Studios (CWOS), October 12/13, 12-5 p.m. at Erector Square, 315 Peck Street in New Haven, Building 6E Studio E.