Two Brooklynites in Connecticut

This past week and a half I have been busy at CCSU (Central Connecticut State University) preparing for our first art opening of the semester, Redux Trois, which is today Thursday, January 23rd.  We usually have three shows a semester, and man do they come and go quick.

So this week has entailed a lot of communication with the artists.  The planning never stops.  There is the arrangement for artwork pick up by art handlers.  There is the ordering of the hors d’oeuvre and wine which comes with its own set of documentation — remember, this is a university — which must be properly filled out, signed by the right people, and sent to the right people.  Other tasks this week included ordering some vinyl letters, posters for promotion on campus, and the artist biographies, all of which get displayed on our walls.

Then, of course, is the most important and most exciting task of all — curating the artwork.  Yet again, I find myself very inspired by the work I see entering our gallery.  Originally it was three artists (as the title implies in french), they are all artists that have studied in CT, and now that they have worked in the art industry and are making a name for themselves we are bringing them back to show together in our gallery.  Sadly, one of the artist had to abandon the show due to health issues, I wish her the best for a quick recovery.

Let’s start with Marela Zacarias.  She is a mexican artist who came through CCSU a few years ago and worked with the faculty as an artist in residence, as well as working with the community in the surrounding areas.  Soon, I will write a post soon about the mural painting class that is offered at CCSU, it is an interesting story.

Marela’s work, as explained on her website, is a combination of painting with sculpture.  Her work is very cool looking, interestingly attractive even to the most left-brain dominant person.  She mentions that her work is characterized by site specificity, in this case it is the Williamsburg Murals of Brooklyn, where the artist resides.  You can read more about the Williamsburg Murals housing project here.  It is as if she took a set of white sheets, composed her own version of the murals and then turned the sheet into abstract three dimensional forms that have been frozen static in time and space.  Some of the sculptures are made to hang on the wall, and a couple of them were freestanding forms which we displayed on our larger pedestals.  The lines and colors of her paintings help the eye move about form and pulls you in closer to look within the cavities of the form.

The sculptures that Marela is showcasing at CCSU today come in sizes and shapes.  Some are small, hang on the wall, and resemble a soft light pillow; the others look like a parachute that has gotten tangled in something but it still fills up with the amorphous and arbitrary form the wind gives it.  I understand the relationship to the Williamsburg Murals, that is pretty obvious, but what I don’t understand is the association of her mural inspired painted forms with the tricycle or the television set.  The television sculpture was set to play the movie “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.”  I did not find any sort of connection between the movie and the murals or her forms.  That’s a question I would have liked to ask Marela,  unfortunately the busy working artist cannot be present today.

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Hanging on the walls next to Marela’s sculptures is Matthew W. Robinson‘s paintings.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from CCSU in 2009, and then went on to Pratt Institute to get his Master’s degree.  He grew up in Connecticut and now resides in Brooklyn.  Matthew’s inspiration comes from having grown up and seeing the post industrial depressed areas with beautiful embellishments that still show through in the structure of the city, but otherwise has been left to fade away. His interests in the history of architecture play a big role in his compositions too.

When looking at Matthew’s paintings I cannot help but see a reference to the urban decay of a city.  Then the surface of his work draw you in closer to understand the texture.  As an artist one of my biggest inspirations is visual and physical texture, so his painting were really drawing me in.  He uses OSB plywood for his painting surface, which is manufactured by binding wood chips together.  Hopefully that will give you an idea.  Matthew makes his own framed boards, and then he uses the texture of the plywood to show through in cleverly areas of his paintings.

Not only is Matthew using his surfaces creatively, but in some of his paintings when seen from far away they have such depth.  Then as you walk closer to them, you see that he has incorporated some extra materials on his surfaces that isn’t paint.  The use of collage, or assemblage, keeps his audience on their toes, surprising them from painting to painting.  I made sure to include a detail shot of one painting that integrates the collage aspect that make his paintings’ space feel very real and three-dimensional.  And that’s just the surface of his paintings.  The subject matter, which he has taken out of its original context and put in another, speaks more of the artist’s everyday surroundings and visual interests and it is how he utilizes those elements in his compositions that make his artwork so interesting to look at.

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That is the Show we have, for you, today at CCSU.  Matthew W. Robinson will be speaking at 3:15 pm, followed by the reception from 4-7 pm.  If you are around the New Britain, CT area, I encourage you to come visit and make your own assessment of these two Brooklyn-ites in Connecticut.  Their artwork will not disappoint.  You can find in the Second Floor, Maloney Hall, S.T. Chen Fine Arts Center, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06052.

Exhibition dates: January 23 – February 13

Regular Gallery Hours: M-F 1 -4pm

© 2014 Paola Evangelista

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