Art Day Trek

This week my husband and I are happy to have his sister and her two lovely boys staying with us visiting from Virginia.  Since she is a busy mom, wife, art teacher, and art blogger (The Gnome’s Studio) she doesn’t get many chances to come up to CT to visit so we are enjoying their company.

Yesterday, Tanya (my sister-in-law) and I got a chance to ride down to the Mystic Arts Center (MAC) so that she could see the CAFA Annual Exhibition.  Up until seeing this exhibition I don’t think any of my family members understood my second job very well.  Since Tanya comes from a graphic design background, and she teaches art, she and I had quite a bit to talk about as we walked around the big gallery rooms.  It was nice to be able to talk about the artwork itself, the composition, use of color, elemental pieces that makes the whole, etc, but I also found myself talking a lot about the whole process of art submission, the online jurying, the walk-in art drop off, the live jurying, the opening reception, the awards, etc.  My sister-in-law listened patiently and at times shared some of her knowledge too.

In my recent post, 235th day of owls, I spoke about Tanya and her Nightly Owl blog which she is carrying on strongly.  She has gathered many followers on various media outlets and now she is even applying to an artist co-op in which she would pay a monthly fee, volunteer some of her time in the gallery, and a place where she has the possibility of showing her artwork.  Her mindset now is to continue to pursue the road of an artist aside from her teaching responsibilities.  For these reasons she had questions that most people might have going into a professional art career.  Where and how should I show my artwork?  How should the artwork be presented?  How do I transition from an owl-a-day to other artwork?  So these are the topics we were discussing while looking at some good artwork.

Velvet Mill main gallery hall
Velvet Mill main gallery hall
Velvet Mill resident artist work
Velvet Mill resident artist work











We left the MAC and we headed to Stonington, CT to an artist co-op that a friend of my had recommended I visit, The Velvet Mill.  The space is expansive, to say the least.  It was just like what I had in mind for my husband and I.  For a while now I have been saying let’s buy a warehouse where we can put our living space in the middle and our studios on each end respectively.  In my head I was giddy with excitement just walking around this newfound (new for me) art space.  Here, as we walked the halls of the massive warehouse-like building looking at the resident artwork on the walls, we came across Dennis Sirrine whom I had met working with CAFA (Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts) at the MAC when he came to submit his artwork for our exhibition.  Both of his entries made it into our exhibition this year.  He was so pleasant and welcoming, he showed us around and he even showed us his studio.

Dennis Sirrine in his studio.
Dennis Sirrine in his studio.
Artist's studio
Artist’s studio













Tanya and I were able to see the plethora of artwork amounted over the years that Sirrine has been painting.  We also saw the progress and changes made to his style of painting.  When he first started he used to paint more traditional landscapes and portraits, but then we started to see the transitional pieces that started to become looser and a bit abstracted.  He became a bit bored of painting exactly what he saw, instead he used abstraction still keeping the traditional guidelines that makes a skillful composition.  These days Sirrine is successfully showing much more modern abstract and non-objective pieces in galleries around Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and more.  And as he says, his pieces are always seen different by each viewer, that’s the beauty of a good abstract painting, it makes you think from outside the canvas.

Work in progress
Work in progress

Sirrine was nice enough to chat with us, answer our many curious questions we had, and he even showed us around.  As Tanya transitions from her owl-a-day to making art to show in galleries, she found Sirrine’s experience very helpful as I saw the wheels in her mind turning at every statement the artist spoke.

The Velvet Mill is a new happening and exciting place to visit, even if you are not into art, they also have small local businesses like a bakery, a yoga studio, and even a brewery that serves free tastings.  I would recommend it to anyone.  I am hoping to make it back there soon because there are some many other artists to meet and artwork to explore.  And be on the look out because I will be writing more about this place as I frequent it.

Do you live in the Stonington/Mystic/Groton area?  Let’s meet up at the Velvet Mill for a fun creative outlet.  I’m hoping that resident artist Jeffrey P’an does workshops for glassblowing.  Comments are welcome!


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