Last Saturday was one of the coldest nights we have had in Connecticut. The day before Valentine’s, which had a record this year of being the coldest Valentine’s Day since they started to record the highs and lows.
But, for one reason or another, we decided it was a good night to take in some culture from around town.
My husband and I put on a bunch of layers and made our way to Hartford’s Artspace gallery. If you live in CT and don’t know about it or have never been there, you should. The gallery resides in the first floor of the beautiful apartment building right across the train station in Hartford. The apartments are beautiful, just the kind I dream about converting into a studio, high ceilings, lots of natural lighting, and a bit of an industrial feel.
The Artspace gallery is volunteer-run by Tao LaBossiere and his wife. They are both active in the art scene all throughout Hartford County. And the shows they put on at the gallery are well worth the trip downtown.
From Chaparro’s emotive and musical mixed media paintings to the simplified paintings but full of depth and texture by Amy Vensel and a great installation piece by my friend Terrance Regan, the show couldn’t have ever let me down.
Yes, I know that this blog is supposed to be about art. However, as my friend and I were discussing last night, music and art can be articulated with the same language. Besides, I am avid music explorer and it is also one of my biggest sources of inspiration. You won’t find me creating without music.
When I discovered Eilen Jewell for the first time, she transported me to another time. Her music is pure and it carries with it so much history. What I mean by this is you can really hear the roots of her music which is based on traditional blues, jazz, country, and little bit of rock and roll.
Among all the new ever evolving genres of music I am glad that some artists are getting back to the origins of music in the United States. Jazz is becoming more prevalent, as is folk music. Artists are not only inspired by these genres but are composing within them, and the outcome is awesome. For a long time now I have said ‘we need to get back to basics’ in many sectors of society. Right before my eyes, it’s happening to music and I’m loving it!
Eilen Jewell is a master at composing songs. Her lyrics have depth, which is something I crave in music and these days it’s not easy to find. However, besides the lyrics, the accompanying guitar and bass are an impending explosion of talent.
So why am I writing about Eilen Jewell today? Last night I had the chance to go see her live in New Haven. I was overjoyed that I stumbled on this event because she, in all her simplicity, rocked the house. Cafe 9 is a small little music venue that features up and coming artists or independent musicians. The venue was full with spectators anticipating the good show Jewell and her band put on.
The video I posted at the top is a song I really like and one that she sang last night. It shows her guitar and harmonica skills along with her soft sweet voice that I could listen to forever. At the end of the show she greeting her fans and signed posters and albums. I made sure to tell her to keep making music always, and to come back to the east coast soon. I hope you enjoy her music as much as I do.
Today, as 100+ million people are watching the Superbowl, I sit here writing about my exciting day and visit to City Gallery in New Haven, CT.
Since I started this blog, I have used certain websites to find art events to attend so that I have content to write about. Well, I’ve found some good ones that I can use, not only for blog content, but also as an artist. There are some many more entry call sites that I never knew about. Also, these websites would be a great place to advertise the shows that happen at CCSU.
Anyway, for today I had set on my calendar an opening exhibition reception that looked promising. My high school friend Erik came along with my husband and I. None of us had lunch when we met up so we decided to grab some food on the way there. We drove to New Haven and parked close to City Gallery on State Street, New Haven, and from there we found a nice little New York-chic restaurant called Oak Heaven Table & Bar. Our outing was starting on a fantastic note. With a modern twist for a style, they had a great selection of beer (all bottles at least for now), and a nice wine list. However, my friend Erik was most interested in the bourbon they had in these miniature cask right on their bar. I was more interested in the food because I was famished. They only had a brunch menu but everything on it looked delectable. I ordered the beet salad and a side of sausage hash. You could tell, just looking at the ingredients, they are using seasonal vegetables and farmer’s market derived ingredients, as our bartender confirmed. It’s a place I could go back to every day…guided by my stomach.
Enough about the delicious food — but really, go there if you’re in the New Haven area.
City Gallery was only a couple blocks away, but it felt good walking off the food we had just had. We walked in the gallery immediately realizing that it’s a small space, and there’s a lot of people. Only a great sign of good art bringing people together, I thought. The gallery was painted all white and it felt minimal leading the way to the art. In the front of the gallery, two gentlemen playing some nice tunes in a jazzy style guitar. Lately, about 85% of the music I listen to is jazz, so I found myself immersed in the groovy ambiance.
The artists being exhibited were Sheila Kaczmarek and Jane Harris.
Sheila was presenting a collection consisting of ceramic sculptures and some paintings that reflected the clay body of work. Her sculptures reminded me of an organic material, and it was as if you were walking through a forest of these white growths. When I saw them within five feet from me I recognized the glaze on the surface of some of her sculptures, she was using mamo white. The texture of the glaze along with the forms were reminiscent of corals.
The artist, as it said in her statement provided, was inspired by the grafted, old growth vines that she saw in Northern California. Her fascination with these forms found their glory in assembling them together. These sculptures were laid out in the center the widest part of the gallery; they stood on some very simple wide rectangular display pedestals which formed a square doughnut shaped runway for the sculptures.
In all honesty, I enjoyed more looking at her paintings which were interpretations of the same inspiration. Her two-dimensional work seemed better composed, and more alive such as the one pictured below which feels like a rhythmic dance. Perhaps it was the dance of the sea, as it was titled after the ekman spirals, which are the sea currents. The emphasis on color and the contrasting layers of texture caught my attention as I studied this piece.
Sheila and I were introduced, but didn’t get a chance to speak much more than hello because, as half owner the exhibition, she was very busy attending to all her guests.
There was someone nice enough to point me to the other artist Jane Harris. She was an older lady with a young spirit sitting on the sidelines greeting people as they came by. I took a seat on the empty chair next to her and introduced myself. We didn’t chat very long either because she, too, was busy. She told me that she is originally from Brooklyn, but now lives in Madison, CT. My next question was about the body of work present in the gallery. She said it was her most recent work which she works on each Wednesday at the art center in town, on which she relies for the wheel press.
Her mixed media collage/paintings were sophisticated in color and composition. She maintains a strong balanced design with vertical and horizontal lines, and she adds interest with some old photographs of Brooklyn. My favorite elements, which she used repeatedly in her work, were a variety of silks and handmade papers which gave the overall scheme a bit of obscurity like the veil on a blushing bride.
Another detail I liked about Jane Harris’ prints was how she purposely had certain double pressed prints just slightly off register. This is the artist’s way of tipping her hat to the history of the printing press, which she uses to make her work. I found all her work quite enthralling, studying layer upon layer of unique material, new and recycled, which she used to assemble her collage. You can tell her pieces have gone through a long process of change and progress before finding its final placement.
Jane Harris has an Art History degree from Brown University. She has also studied in the Art Students League of New York, and she has presented solo and collaborated work in CT for the past 15 or so years. Jane and Sheila have also exhibited together previously.
All in all, I had an incredible ‘Superbowl Sunday.’ I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I did, however, take a break to see the half-time show and thought that Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers did a pretty good job entertaining the crowds. I hope you enjoyed the football game, and I hope that you catch this post and these artists as interesting as I did.