Roundup: Abstraction in Connecticut

This summer painter Cary Smith takes a turn as a curator, organizing “This One’s Optimistic: Pincushion,” a raucous, salon-style exhibition at the New Britain Museum of American Art featuring paintings by forty of his favorite artists. Focusing primarily on abstraction, Smith has included a little of everything–hard edge geometric, non-objective, painterly gestural, metaphorical, and more. According to the press release, he conceived the show like an old-school mixed tape:

Smith has long been interested in mashing seemingly differing entities together to try to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Similar to the cassette mixed tapes he often made for friends in the 70s and 80s, which often combined wildly disparate sorts of music, abruptly shifting from track to track….Smith believes there is a heightened collective awareness that we share due to the immediate exchange of digital information among us. As one sits in front of their computer, he or she can view art from all over the world in short bits of time. This exhibition is a snippet of that world for all to view in real time and in real space. 

This One’s Optimistic: Pincushion,” curated by Cary Smith. Artists include John Phillip Abbott, Joshua Abelow, Lisa
Beck, Trudy Benson, Timothy Bergstrom, Michael Berryhill, Ross Bleckner,
Todd Chilton, Steve DiBenedetto, Amy Feldman, Michelle Grabner,
Joanne Greenbaum, Clare Grill, Adam Henry, Daniel Hesidence, Xylor
Jane, Bill Komoski, Joshua Marsh, Chris Martin, Andrew Masullo, Keith
Mayerson, Douglas Melini, Tom Nozkowski, Carl Ostendarp, Ann Pibal, Josh
Podoll, Lisa Sanditz, James Siena, Jennifer Wynne Reeves, Alexander
Ross, Julie Ryan, Jackie Saccoccio, Russell Tyler, Dan Walsh, Chuck
Webster, Garth Weiser, Stanley Whitney, Michael Williams, B. Wurtz,
Tamara Zahaykevich. New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT. Through Septmeber 14, 2014.


The Wave, an impressive and well-conceived interactive art project created
by artists Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, has been traveling
around the country (readers may have seen the installation at Allegra LaViola on the Lower East Side, pictured above), and on Saturday, July 12, it goes on display at the Wadsworth Atheneum.
Participants will cut recyclable,
polycarbonate film into wave-like shapes and add them to the wire
flowing through the installation space. Fishman and Kalman hope the
massive installation will remind us of our connection to both the
mysterious beauty and the awesome power of water.


At Real Art Ways, Olu Oguibe presents a series of paintings he made on his iPad. In 2010, after the death of a close friend, Oguibe fell into a deep depression, holing up at his house and resorting to a cheap graphics app on his iPad for companionship. “The Apple
device enabled me to keep an record of a very dark and challenging
period, and to slowly work my way through unimaginable grief,” Oguibe says. The show comprises five large-scale and eight smaller pieces that embody the narrative of loss and recovery that he experienced. He says some
took a few seconds to create, some a few minutes. “People like to
have a dialogue with their work, a push-pull. I don’t work that way,” he
said. “I’m done with them when I feel there is nothing more I can add
to them.”

According to a recent profile in the Hartford Courant:

Today, Oguibe is moving away from
the abstracts and toward figurative work again, and toward dark themes. He said his next iPad project will be about Newtown or about his
childhood in war-torn Nigeria. His hometown, Aba, is in the Biafra
region, which seceded from Nigeria for two and a half years, from 1967
to 1970, but was re-absorbed by Nigeria after a bloody war.

“I am 49 years old. I will be 50 soon. When I was a child, there was
no guarantee that anyone of my generation would survive the war. To live
a half-century is a tremendous landmark,” he said. “Once Nigeria
defeated the secessionist state, you were forbidden to even mention it.
Generations have been raised knowing nothing about it. That’s not very
healthy, for children to go through this traumatic experience and then
they couldn’t talk about it.”

Oguibe said that even though English artist David Hockney helped
popularize the idea of creating art on iPads, the going will still be
slow. “I tried to get my students into it. They thought it was cute but
not something they were particularly drawn to,” he said. “I let it go.”

 “Olu Oguibe: iPad Prints,” Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT. Through July 6, 2014.


“Painting is a reproduction of a mental pattern. I have to see the painting before I start.” Jack Whitten (image above) has work on view at the Aldrich Museum through July 6.

Readers: Please feel free to post links in the Comments section for other Connecticut abstraction shows that I haven’t included.


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

3 thoughts on “Roundup: Abstraction in Connecticut”

  1. The New Britain Museum of American Art is well worth a visit, in addition to Smith's excellently curated show, the collection is eclectic and revealing. Plus, its by a beautiful park!

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