‘Where They Began’ — Two Artists Return to Old Lyme for Show at Cooley Gallery

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OLD LYME — Two painters with roots in the Connecticut Valley, who also share a strong sense of color, will exhibit together in “Where They Began,” a show at the Cooley Gallery guest-curated by artist Christian Brechneff, opening May 26.  “Morteza Khakshoor is almost like a Matisse, with a motif that tells a story with color and with figures. Jasper Goodrich is very bold, he’s more abstract, he is more the colorist,” said Brechneff of the two artists he chose for the show.  Khakshoor was born in Iran and came to the U.S. in 2010. He earned his BFA in

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80th Whitney Biennial Reflects “Precarious and Improvised Times”

NEW YORK — The sidewalk in front of the Whitney Museum was teeming with visitors last Wednesday — the ticket queue reached almost all the way to the High Line as sunlight bounced from the Hudson River to the museum’s quadruple-height glass atrium walls.  Inside the 80th Biennial was underway, after a year’s delay due to the pandemic. It’s been a hiatus of three years instead of two but that period of time “has expanded, contracted, suspended, and blurred—often in dizzying succession,” said co-curators David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards in their introduction to the show. The show title, “Quiet As It’s

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Milton Avery Show Opens at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

HARTFORD — The evolution of Milton Avery as a figurative and abstract artist — and notable colorist — can be traced from his early landscapes to his late works in a wide-ranging retrospective of his paintings at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art that opens Saturday, March 5.  Arranged in chronological order, the 70-piece show reflects Avery’s personal life and artistic influences, culminating in the richly-colored figurative and abstract pieces he was later known for as a modernist painter.  The show is a kind of homecoming for Avery (1885–1965), who grew up near Hartford, where he took his first art

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Norman Ives, Painter and Designer, Opens at Lyman Allyn in New London

NEW LONDON — Letterforms and type were a lifelong fascination for Norman Ives, an American artist, designer, teacher and publisher whose work traversed the boundaries between mid-century-modern abstract painting and graphic design. His work — a stunning range of paintings, collages, prints, posters, logos, murals and bas-reliefs — can be seen in the “Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions” show at the Lyman Allyn Museum from Jan. 29 through April 24.  Tanya Pohrt, a curator at the museum, told CT Examiner that Ives often created a letterform pattern and then carried it through in a number of pieces, changing the colors, scale

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Small Works are Grand Tradition at Annual Postcard Show

CHESTER — We send them from faraway places, buy them at museums, tape them to our refrigerators— postcards are portals to adventure and memory, and an accessible way to own art. Artist Sol LeWitt used to send postcards to Sosse and Jack Baker, former owners of the Chester Gallery where LeWitt showed his work.  “He would send them postcards from his travels and they framed some of them that he made himself. That’s what gave Jack and Sosse the idea to host a show of art the size of postcards,” said Nancy Pinney, who has owned the Chester Gallery since 2018. 

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A Mecca for Japanese Collectibles and Games in Clinton

CLINTON — Town residents Justin Teague and his partner, Carolyn Dickson, love to vacation in Japan. They’ve gone three times since 2015, traveling through Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Kobe on the country’s bullet train.  But there’s another purpose to their travels besides pure enjoyment — stocking up on Japanese collectibles to take back to their store, Akiba Underground. The small novelty shop in downtown Clinton contains a plethora of Japanese comic books, snacks, fashion and collectibles that draws people from around New England.  The counter offers Pocky sticks in at least seven flavors, arranged against a backdrop of two women

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Richard Ziemann’s Intricate Landscapes Open at Chester Gallery Tonight

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CHESTER — A luminous field of dandelions drawn in pale silvery gray graphite, rendered with breathtaking precision and delicacy, hangs above the fireplace in the front room of the Chester Gallery. “I can work on a drawing for a long time. I’m working on a drawing now — it’s on my dining room table  — that I started probably six months ago,” said artist Richard Ziemann, who is showing about 70 of his drawings, etchings and engravings at the gallery from Oct.1 to Nov. 20, along with works by his sons, Eric, Jeremy and Kurt Ziemann.  Ziemann, who has lived

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Nonprofit Hopes to Raise $30,000 for Racial Justice Murals in 4 Towns

The towns of Old Lyme, East Lyme, New London and Norwich will soon be home to four murals highlighting diverse stories from each community’s history.  Public Art for Racial Justice Education, an all-volunteer organization in southeastern Connecticut aiming to combat racial inequity through community art programming, is planning the “Sister Murals” to tell previously overlooked stories from the four cities.  In Norwich, for example, the mural will feature David Ruggles, an abolitionist born in Norwich who helped hundreds of people, including Frederick Douglass, escape slavery via the Underground Railroad. Old Lyme’s mural, which will be painted in Old Lyme Middle

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Dutch Designer Ingrid Bergman Awaits Green Light For Return to Essex

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ESSEX — 8 Main Street has stood empty for nearly two years. “I get a lot of questions about when we’re going to open. All is unknown, as we don’t have a clue when Biden is opening the doors again for travelers from out of Europe,” said Ingrid Bergman, a Dutch-born interior designer, who said she has planned since 2019 to open Eric Kuster Metropolitan Luxury by Ingrid Bergman Interiors at the Main Street location. Bergman, who is a resident of the U.S., holds a five-year E2 visa, known as an investor visa, that is set to expire in November

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Clarity Haynes at the Aldrich

An explosion of bright pink hangs in the atrium of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. This bright light emanates from two hot pink paintings on shaped canvas, a heart and a triangle. Their surfaces are painted with trompe l’oeil objects and photographs, depicting highly personal narratives and deep dives into feminist art history. There is both earnest subtlety and revolution at play here.  Clarity Haynes: Collective Transmission is a show of firsts. It is the first solo museum exhibition by the artist, and it introduces a new series by the Aldrich Museum called Aldrich Projects. This series is slated to

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Cautious Steps to Re-Opening the Arts with Advice From Yale School of Public Health

How do you practice social distancing in a dance studio? Look at the way birds fly, always in tandem, but never colliding.  It’s one of many suggestions that Dr. Sten Vermund of the Yale School of Public Health has been giving to theaters, museums and other arts venues that want to find a balance between keeping visitors safe and getting back to business.  The Yale School of Public Health partnered with Shoreline Arts Alliance in March 2020 to advise businesses on the best ways to navigate the myriad and ever-changing public health regulations over the course of the pandemic. The

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Lyme Art Association Kicks off Capital Campaign for Phase Two Restoration

OLD LYME — The Lyme Art Association is kicking off phase two of a capital campaign to fund restoration work on its Lyme St. gallery. The original structure, designed by noted architect Charles A. Platt, was completed in 100 years ago — the same year as Platt’s commission for the Freer Gallery of Art on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Each year, the association hosts seven annual exhibitions of work by representational artists in the region, and is free and open to the public. “We’re calling this our ‘Second Century Capital Program,’ to continue Lyme Art into its second century,”

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Cultured Studios Opens Shades of Melanin in New London

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NEW LONDON — Artist Kern Bruce began painting a mural at the pop-up show, “Shades of Melanin,” at Cultured Studios Friday night.  “Over time the mural is going to grow and I’m going to be incorporating people that are in the gallery tonight writing different messages about what they’re grateful for and people that they’ve lost,” he said. “So, it’s a living, breathing testimony of life, purpose and perseverance despite the odds.  Bruce, 38, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, said he wanted to make a piece in honor of Black history month and Women’s history month, which were

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Susan Lisbin at the Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery in New London

NEW LONDON — “I’m interested in relationships, how we relate to each other, whether it’s standoffish or tensioned,” said artist Susan Lisbin, whose solo exhibition,” The Human Side, opened Thursday at the Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery and Center.  Her pieces — oil paintings and clay sculpture — explore organic and anthropomorphic forms that reflect a sense of experimentation, tenderness and humor.  The show has been curated with “pairings” of her paintings and sculpture that relate visually — but her work as a painter particularly stands out.  Beginning with “Overload,” a painting depicting a figure on its side atop a pile

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Painter Richard McDonough in New London

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NEW LONDON — Grids, patterns and the color pink are a few of the themes that artist Richard McDonough explores in his solo show, “Two Turloughs,” at the Catherine Fosnot Gallery.  McDonough, who is 25 and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., is a painter who likes to construct objects, whether as sculpture or as surfaces to paint on — and to him, they are on a continuum.   Near the window of the first gallery is his tall, skinny, house-like sculpture, “Choir House and Choir Singers,” with a prominent wooden grid visible on the back surface. Around a corner, “Boys Toys,” a

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Sculptor Robert Rohm in Providence

PROVIDENCE — Rebar was a delicate drawing tool in the hands of sculptor Robert Rohm, whose show “Down to Earth: Robert Rohm Sculpture, 1963-2013” is running through April 25 at the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence.  At the beginning of the show are Rohm’s large pieces based on the figure — oversized hands, a shoulder, a series of arms, a torso, a leg — all forms in mid-gesture, bending, moving, cradling, reaching.  Rohm gave each piece “skin” by covering the flexed and shaped rebar with steel mesh and then layering encaustic, a pigmented hot wax, over areas of the mesh.

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The Cooley Gallery at 35

OLD LYME — “At any given time, I think we’re probably thought of as being a gallery of Old Lyme impressionists, but our tastes are far broader than that,” said Jeff Cooley, who co-owns the Cooley Gallery with his wife, Betsey Cooley. The couple began by renting the front room of 25 Lyme Street in 1986 and slowly leased more space at the back of the building and upstairs. When the property went on the market in 1989, the Cooleys bought it.  “When we moved here, it became clear pretty quickly that by virtue of being in Old Lyme, people

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Brian Keith Stephens Opens “Almost True Tales,” at the Lyman Allyn

NEW LONDON — “Animals in fables are kind of a bridge to humans. Symbolically, the animals take on human characteristics, that’s what I was trying to get at,” said painter Brian Keith Stephens, whose show, “Almost True Tales” at the Lyman Allyn Museum incorporates animals in mythology, folklore and culture.  Cheetahs, elephants, lions, wolves, buffalo, deer, foxes, sheep, hares, whales, flamingoes, swans, tortoises, frogs, and many more — Stephens, 47, is known for his large-scale paintings of creatures in nature. In this show of about 18 works, he ties his fascination with the wild kingdom to fables that he said

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Lyme Academy of Fine Arts Hires Leadership, Plans to Welcome New Class in Fall

OLD LYME — After nearly two years of uncertainty, the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts has structured a new plan reflective of the founder’s mission and hired personnel in anticipation of reopening with as many as 20 full-time students in September.  “We thought, what an opportunity this could be to actually help contribute whatever we can to bring back what Elizabeth Gordon Chandler’s original mission for the school was,” said Jordan Sokol, a painter, and the new artistic director for the school, whose first day was Monday. His wife, artist Amaya Gurpide, will serve as the director of drawing at

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New London Library Aims at Best for Postwar Art

NEW LONDON — Off the atrium of Harris Place is a room dominated by a long, low wooden table set with reading lamps. A few shelves of art books and one or two display cases containing art catalogues and ephemera dot the periphery. On the back wall, a large painting, “Calagrande” by Michael Goldberg, sets the mood.  The reading room, at 165 State St., serves as an unassuming portal to the Visual Art Library, a collection of more than 70,000 contemporary art books, catalogues, magazines and media assembled by George Waterman III, a contemporary art collector who became fascinated with

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Martin asks ‘Who are You?’ in New Britain Retrospective

NEW BRITAIN — “We’ve all had experience with drawing as kids with pencils and pens and markers and that was my first introduction to the line,” said artist Shantell Martin. “I think the difference with myself is that I never stopped that introduction. I’ve always enjoyed the simplicity of the line.” Martin, 40, has focused on the line and its possibilities for more than 20 years, creating a body of work that spans from small drawings to wall-size murals, as well as video performances and commercial collaborations with high-end brands.  Her first career retrospective is on display at the New

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Artist Playing Cards to Raise Money for the Hygienic

NEW LONDON — Hygienic Art Galleries has elevated games of pandemic-induced solitaire into an art form with their latest fundraiser, a deck of playing cards featuring paintings and sketches by local artists.  “It’s nice for people to have an entire art show in their pocket,” said Troy Zaushny, an artist in residence at the Hygienic who contributed artwork to the project. Executive Director Bess Gaby said she got the idea from a similar project she’d worked on with another nonprofit, but the idea took on a new significance with the pandemic — pieces of art that could also be used

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‘Artists to Collect’ Opens at Catherine Fosnot Gallery in New London

NEW LONDON — Twenty six young, mid-career and older artists considered collectible by New York critics will be the focus of a show opening at the Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery and Center on Nov. 14. “Artists to Collect” is the brainchild of Fosnot, who is a painter and lived in New York City for more than 20 years, and George Waterman, who has roots in the New York art community and owns the Harris building as well as the Manwaring Building at 225 State St.  “We asked seven or eight critics, ‘Who is on your radar right now with ideas

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Thorsten Dennerline Makes Books

“It’s about just seeing it move and seeing the timing of it,” said artist Thorsten Dennerline, who recently has been making videos of his three-dimensional books.  Prior to the COVID pandemic, Dennerline brought his books to fairs and visited people to show them how the books work in person. Now he’s looking for ways for people to experience the pieces.  “You’ve got to see this thing in real life because it’s an object and so I’m trying to get people to see it ‘in person,’” said Dennerline, a faculty member at Bennington College who founded Bird Press in 1996, which

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BassamFellows Remodels the Future

RIDGEFIELD — “What’s so beautiful about the building is it’s about 7000 square feet and it feels, and is built, like a modern house and yet it’s a commercial building. It has more of a residential feel than a typical office building,” said Scott Fellows. “When people walk in, especially the way we’ve furnished it and adapted it for our use, it feels like a blurring between a beautiful, small executive office building and a modern house. People say, ‘I want to live here.’” The Schlumberger Research Center administration building, designed in 1951 and built in 1952, was architect Philip Johnson’s

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Ryan Chapman on Comic Fiction, Merrill House Residency

STONINGTON — “I think there’s something great about how humor and comic writing can short circuit us to some degree. I think it allows us to think about topics or ask questions that might not be raised in polite company. I think often what a culture finds funny says a lot more about it than what a culture idolizes,” explained Ryan Chapman, the writer in residence at the James Merrill House for the month of October. “With writing comic fiction, hopefully I can bring in some of the bigger questions about life and our society and do so in a

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Residents of Eastern Connecticut Invited to Talk With US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo Tonight

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo is giving a virtual talk at Connecticut College on September 14 to discuss her memoir, Crazy Brave.  Connecticut College is hosting Harjo as part of a partnership with “One Book: One Region,” a program that was formed to bring together communities in eastern Connecticut to discuss literature.  Jefferson Singer, dean of the college, said the partnership was an effort to create ties between the college and the local community.  Laurie Wolfley, a professor of English at UConn, and a member of the committee responsible for choosing the book, said that Harjo’s memoir was a timely

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Peter Anton Opens Show of Outsized ‘Confectionary Sculpture’ at Lyman Allyn

NEW LONDON — For sculptor Peter Anton, food is a portal to celebratory memories and a kind of “sensory snapshot” that connects us to emotions ranging from happiness to obsession.  “We use sweets to celebrate and we also use them for comfort when we’re depressed and we reward ourselves with sweets,” said Anton, who creates giant renditions of ice cream cones, cakes and confections. “As an artist, I love color and textures and you can’t top a colorful dessert.” In “Sweet Dreams: Confectionery Sculpture,” at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, Anton will show 35 of his outsized, hyperrealistic works, including

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Arelt Brings ‘Consistent Vision’ to Nautilus Architects’ Contemporary Designs

WATERFORD & DEEP RIVER — Architect Chris Arelt stood barefoot on the polished concrete floors of his client’s house and pointed to the tiny square lights that were set flush with the living room ceiling.  “These tiny LED fixtures with no trim are hugely important,” he said. “They add up to a big expense, like $160,000. It’s always more than people bargained for, but it’s so important. If you start putting big six-inch diameter pot lights into these things, it just blows the whole design.”  Arelt, the principal and owner of Nautilus Architects in Lyme and Southport, stressed the importance

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Director Sam Quigley Talks Lyman Allyn, Accreditation

NEW LONDON — The Lyman Allyn Art Museum will reopen at half capacity on June 30 and offer free admission to visitors until Labor Day.  “We thought people might need a little extra incentive to come into a public space. We all recognized that we’re all a little nervous and we wanted to let people know that we’re doing everything we can to make it safe and healthful,” said Sam Quigley, director of the museum, by telephone on Wednesday. “We wanted to eliminate any hurdles so that people could come in and really just take advantage of what we are,

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