Update (June 3): View installation shots here.
If you are in Connecticut, or passing through on your way to the shore, stop by Hygienic Arts, a non-profit art space in New London, CT, where I have organized a show of work by several colleagues from Eastern Connecticut State University. The opening is tomorrow night, 7-10pm, and if you’re out on the East End of Long Island, it’s within walking distance of the Cross Sound Ferry. Check out used vinyl at the Telegraph while you’re in town. I’ll post installation images next week.
The story goes that a child, sitting on his mother’s lap, wished that future generations would be able to see her beautiful eyes. He touched her eyes, then waved his hand over the ground, and blue flowers appeared—what we now call “forget-me-nots.”
The pieces I selected for this exhibition, like the forget-me-nots in the story, bring forward ideas, memories, and images gleaned from the artists’ pasts. The triggers for the work on display include a childhood love of old-fashioned books, an uncle’s story about a young boy playing with a revolver, the innocence of Victorian-era silhouettes, a generation of dealers in the New York art world, traditional African textile patterns, and, in my case, paintings my father made. Each artist transforms transient thoughts and vague private recollections, allowing them a place in our shared memory and collective history.
Besides myself, the artists include June Bisantz, Lula Mae Blocton, Ted Efremoff, Tom Hébert, and Jane Rainwater.
June Bisantz creates thought-provoking public art on billboards, buses, movie theater screens, shopping mall advertising panels, architectural facades, traffic-control devices, and solar-powered street signs. She has received commissions for public art projects, in New Haven, CT, Pittsfield, MA, and Charlotte, NC. In 2011 Bisantz founded the Willimantic Screen Project, an urban screens public art program sponsored by the StreamingMuseum.org, an international organization based in New York City. An accomplished musician and singer, Bisantz has co-produced collections of original jazz, all of which have received national recognition.
Lula Mae Blocton is fascinated with color, structure, and the illusion of transparency. She was among the first in her family to attend college, where she studied painting and African-American art history. She has served as a delegate for People to People and the Citizen Ambassador Program of Art Educators on missions to Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, and traveled to Africa and Europe to study major museum collections and vernacular art. Her work is in numerous collections, including those of the Albright Knox Museum, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Eastern Connecticut State University, Prudential Life Insurance Company, and the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Sharon L. Butler’s work comprises abstract painting, Web 2.0 social networking media, and writing. In “Forget-me-nots,” Butler presents paintings she made in 2007 that reference abstract easel paintings from the postwar era, particularly those made by her father in the 1960s. In 2008, Butler created a book about the paintings called Keeping Our Distance. She writes for The Brooklyn Rail and maintains the art blog Two Coats of Paint (but I guess readers already knew that).
Ted Efremoff, born in Moscow, Russia, is a cross-disciplinary artist engaged with performance, video, installation and social sculpture. His primarily interest lies in exploring how storytelling has the capacity to overcome the immediate constraints of space and time. Efremoff has performed and exhibited at Chashama performance spaces, Sideshow, and PSII Galleries in New York City; the Museum of American Art in Philadelphia; the Gongju National Museum in South Korea; the National Center of Contemporary Art in Moscow; the Night of Museums in Belgrade, Serbia; and the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Tom Hébert, whose recent work includes photorealist paintings and collages that combine digital images and wood construction, has exhibited at OK Harris, Semaphore, and Exit Art in New York; Real Art Ways in Hartford; and many other galleries throughout New England. He has work in collections throughout the USA and Europe, including Aetna, Mobil Oil, Slater Museum, Stux Gallery in New York, Center for the Arts Museum in Vero Beach, Lewis and Clark Museum in Oregon, and Gesamthochschule Universitat in Kassel, Germany. Hébert has received several awards, including a Pollock-Krasner grant and three fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.
Jane Rainwater explores the paradox of “horrible beauty” in drawings, diagrams, installations, sculpture, performance, and prints. Her aim is to engage the viewer with seemingly innocent decorative pleasantry, which upon closer examination reveals darker truths. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield; ArtSpace in New Haven; the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport; and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
“Forget-me-nots,” organized by Sharon L. Butler. Hygienic Art, 83 Bank Street, New London, CT. May 28 – June 25, 2011. Opening reception: Saturday, May 28, 2011; 7 PM to 10 PM