ARTIST OF THE MONTH FEATURE:
LIZ SQUILLACE & JULIA-ROSE LIPTAK
For our September 2017 feature we highlight two Bridgeport artists exhibiting in September and working with the community.
Liz Squillace is the owner of Paradox Ink, an art studio specializing in screenprinting, murals + public art. Her latest project, the Painted Stairway Mural on the Broad Street steps in downtown Bridgeport, will have a formal unveiling on September 7th. She is also part of City Lights Gallery’s exhibit Pattern. Join for an opening reception the same evening! Learn more about the process, her partners, and her vision in the below feature.
Julia-Rose Liptak is an artist focusing on abstract painting, illustrations, and mixed media fiber art. She will have a solo-exhibit for her latest painting series Planes at Source Coffeehouse in the Black Rock neighborhood on September 8th. Julia-Rose is also exhibiting in the Norwalk Maritime Garage Gallery exhibit “Memories of our Town”, opening on September 26th. In her feature she shares about her work in both exhibits and her volunteer work with The Kennedy Center’s Maggie Daly Arts Cooperative this past summer.
About Liz Squillace and Paradox Ink
Paradox Ink’s mission is to make art more accessible by creating it in public places. Public art such as Liz Squillace’s mural at the Bridgeport Train Station as well as the many painted Utility Boxes that adorn streetscapes in Bridgeport and Stamford are seen by commuters on a daily basis. Paradox Ink has had a storefront located in the Arcade Mall in downtown Bridgeport for over 4 years. Liz was classically trained as an artist at Rhode Island School of Design and currently resides at Read’s ArtSpace live/work studios.
About The Painted Stairway
The mural was designed and implemented with the theme of celebrating the diverse population of Bridgeport collaborating together to achieve unity and prosperity. It began a year ago when I applied for a Regional Initiative Arts Grant, through the State of CT, and when I was introduced to, and partnered with, the social action network, Bridgeport Generation Now! We were awarded the grant and came together throughout the summer to paint the risers of the Broad Street steps.
I was interested in painting this site because of its high profile nature. It can be seen from many vantage points along Broad St. and is an iconic landmark on its own. I’ve been working with Bridgeport Generation Now! and the Bridgeport community to paint the mural.
It began with priming the risers, laying out the design, and starting with one color at a time, taping & painting squares. We held many group sessions, weather permitting, and continued adding new colors until the mural was complete. We’ve been working on it since late June, and finished in late August. It still needs an exterior varnish, which we will be applying before the Unveiling Sept. 7th.
Q. Why did you choose this particular design?
There was a real process that went into creating this custom design. I contemplated the shape and form of what we would be painting, and I knew I would be painting with a group, so I needed a way to break it down simply. To work with the length and height of the stairs, I wanted something that cascaded down as well as rising up. Interconnecting was an important design element to me, as well as colors transitioning into other colors and blending in the center. The double helix can be seen as a DNA strip representing our humanity, the colors mingling as our diversity, and the blending in the center as unity. There is also a retro digital video game aspect that I found to be cool and modern.
Q. Why do you think art in public places are important?
I think it is important to have art in public places because it truly adds a special feeling of wonder and awe to an environment. It also democratizes the art viewing experience and improves the quality of life for those living in and visiting a city.
Q, Any funny or interesting stories about the process?
I’ve noticed people coming to take photos in front of the stairs now, and while they like to take group photos and as couples, inevitably they want to have a photo of themselves alone in front of the piece. It’s like the individual being celebrated within the collective!
Please come down and see the piece for yourself!
Liz Squillace will be exhibiting in the Pattern exhibit at City Lights Gallery.
Join for the Painted Stairway Unveiling and exhibit opening in downtown Bridgeport on September 7th, 2017.
About Pattern Exhibit
PATTERN: Exhibit Reception
City Lights Gallery
265 Golden Hill St Bridgeport CT
JOIN US Thursday, 9/7/17 for the FREE artists’ reception 5:30-8:30 pm for the exhibit PATTERN.
Exhibits exploring the principles and elements of design
The first in a series of exhibits exploring the principles and elements of design opens Thursday, September 7, 2017 from 5:30-8:30 pm at City Lights Gallery in Bridgeport. Executive Director Suzanne Kachmar is grateful to Jane Davila for contributing her curatorial skills to this collaboration which grew out of conversations regarding programs that explore the basic concepts of visual design.
Artists selected to participate in this exhibit are showing both large and small works that highlight the many facets Pattern and Texture, rendered in a variety of media from fiber art to painting to weaving. Participating artists include Adger Cowans and Liz Squillace of Bridgeport, Gwen Hendrix of Oxford, Norma Schlager of Danbury, Tim Reimer of Stratford, and Jahmane West of Norwalk.
Q. Why did you choose to participate in this exhibit?
I chose to participate in this exhibit because it seemed a good fit; right up the stairs of my public art piece, been working with pattern lately — and Jane Davila, who is curating the exhibit, is great!
“I am happy to show the preliminary pieces of the Painted Stairway mural.
I think it gives insight into the process that goes into developing a public art mural and shows how things change as the piece is realized.”
What does pattern mean to you in your artwork?
Pattern means a way of organizing information, whether it is a tessellation or a dominant repeating motif. It can be printed on top of like a screenprint on toile. It can be repeated so it can always grow. And, you can play games with it by altering components within it.
About Julia-Rose Liptak
I am a Bridgeport resident and native. I formally studied art during my undergraduate experience at SUNY Purchase, but I’ve been creating art since I was a child. My mother is an artist and growing up in a creative household definitely influenced this passion.
As an artist I create abstract paintings, illustrations, and mixed media fiber art. I would describe myself as a constant observer and dreamer with a love of color. My process is an exploration that is often messy and layered. Passion helps me to embrace these experiences as growth with a little humor, heart, and good music.
My artwork is generally rich in color or expressive lines. It celebrates moments of appreciation, potential, and discovery.
“I find inspiration in everything, which is exciting because it means I’m constantly exploring”
Q. Can you tell me about your experience volunteering with MDAC?
MDAC is a program through The Kennedy Center, Inc. that assists individuals with disabilities through creative exploration, self-discovery, and expressive arts projects.
My time working with the artists consisted of helping individuals progress and explore in their creative process. Each artist is unique in their choice of medium or personal projects. I learned a great deal about their vision and assisted them in executing their goals or trying a new approach.
Additionally, I assisted with the facilitation of various expressive art groups including movement and theatre. Lastly, I developed and lead an art-based social skills group in which different social themes were shared through art as well as peer engagement.
The experience was enlightening and rewarding. It ignited my passion for service as well as building more community connections.
Q. Can you tell me about the solo-exhibit at Source Coffeehouse?
The title for the series at Source Coffeehouse is Planes. So much of my abstract work revolves around emotional subjects such as impact, attachment, and schematic relationships. Similarly, Planes was developed out of a desire to explore the concept of personal energy and interaction. The idea is that each individual has their own energy that is constantly changing based on our interaction with ourselves, our environments, and/or our audience. I interpreted those various energy states as planes.
The process of creating these paintings was more philosophically driven than my usual work. For example, I thought about the different energy that was generated during a moment of inspiration, meditation, or life-phase. Color is a major component in all my artwork and I strived to explore different tones for these paintings. I fell in love with a gray for the equilibrium it represented and that shade is a grounding in all the works across this bright series. Expressing these themes visually was a challenge, but I hope that each piece elicits feelings of movement and potential.
I am excited to exhibit at Source Coffeehouse because coffeehouses are naturally environments that encourage the generation of new ideas, productivity, and positive interactions. I feel that this is the perfect location for this type of subject. The work will be up for the month of September.
Q. Can you tell me about the exhibit at the Maritime Gallery and how your works relate to the theme?
The exhibit at the Maritime Garage Gallery, “Memories of Our Town,” features art that represents the unique memories of places we call home. I have two abstract paintings in the show inspired by Bridgeport, Connecticut. I’ve always had an affinity for urban beauty and a great deal of pride for my hometown. These artworks transform industry into vibrant color fields. They celebrate the architecture and spaces of a city with a rich history, as well as possibility.
Q. Anything else you’d like to share?
I was fortunate enough to be exposed to art at a young age. Even as a child I was able to identify famous artists I admired, learn their stories, struggles, and successes. In addition to being an artist, I am passionate about child development and education.
I strongly believe that we need to make art exposure and opportunity available to our youth.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH FEATURE: ROBIN GILMORE
In our August 2017 Artist of the Month feature artist Robin Gilmore discusses her extensive experience working in the arts and community for more than 30 years. From mechanical chickens to art bras, Robin shares about working with Bridgeport schools and organizations, her love for vintage fashion and City Lights Vintage, and why she thinks artists play an important role in Bridgeport.
“Some days I can’t keep up with all the creative ideas running through my head, I am inspired by so many things in my environment, and am always designing, problem solving, anything from a simple collage, a new style of jewelry, a garden plan, a new recipe, re designing a new idea for a space in my home or studio, or teaching myself something new.”
ABOUT ROBIN GILMORE
Robin Gilmore (Jopp) is a mixed media artist, focusing on jewelry designed from repurposed and found materials, collage created with antique images, also 2& 3 dimensional assemblage, found art sculpture. Robin is always up for a challenge as she sews, cooks, crotchets, writes, sings, photographs, redesigns furniture or household items, redesigns her clothes, and collects antiques and memorabilia especially about Bridgeport. Robin is also a teaching artist who has served the community in many different venues and for many different arts organizations for more than 30 years. Her favorite past time is repurposing and upcycling with kids and adults.
Her dream is to publish a book or two with poetry inspired by her artwork and a book with lesson plans for making art with repurposed materials.
“My best ideas and those that give me trouble are answered in my dreams…the most important thing is to listen to that small still voice and take it seriously and act on it. Every morning when I wake up I have an answer to a question that has been weighing on me. Is it spirit? Yes I think it is.”
Q. Can you tell me a bit about the projects you’ve been taking part in this summer?
It has been a super busy year to date. I HAVE BEEN IN SUPER OVERDRIVE.
The summer has been especially busy teaching and creating projects for elementary school children. I am inspired by opportunities to get kids excited about Art, about protecting our planet and about being aware of our environment through creative work. I had a wonderful summer working at the new Claytor School in Black Rock. I was hired by Arts For Learning for 4 weeks to work along with the Lighthouse program at the Summer Camp. It was an intense experience and I was committed to bringing my “all and everything” to each project.
Currently I am working on a new project with City Lights Gallery at the Ralphola Taylor Community Center on Bridgeport’s East End. I grew up about 6 blocks from the location and also have a teeny tiny studio nearby. The direction of the project is to bring life to a garden that has been vacant for a while with over 13 raised beds. The children are creating garden ornaments, from whirly gigs to wind socks, wind chimes to painted tiles, a chess board and the ideas and collaboration with other artists is really very inspiring. It is great working with such incredible artists and musicians who care so much about this community.
I have been selling at the Downtown Farmer’s market as well as doing art activities and participated in the opening day of the Black Rock Farmers Market. Participated in a number of events showing and selling my jewelry and art with networking events through the Stratford Arts Commission, and had a recent incredible Sunday at Beechwood Arts in Weston accompanied by many artists, poets and musicians for a Salon style event. I am looking for more of these types of events and opportunities. Currently I have some of my jewelry designs at various locations- Spectrum gallery, Norwalk Historical Museum, EcoWorks in New Haven and even more at City Lights Gallery.
Q.Tell me about City Lights Vintage
You’ve worked with vintage and “found” items previously. What attracts you to this style? Your favorite item(s) in the store?
For most of the year it has been a pleasure helping to set up the new City Lights Gallery at 265 Golden Hill Street. I really became an all-purpose and up to anything person, very dedicated to helping this beautiful space shine. It is one of my favorite places in the City. So much light and space, beautiful art and I feel very connected to the hub of activity and potential the gallery brings to the community. And I also feel a real sense of pride knowing I had a hand in supporting their mission.
After the move to the new gallery, then came the setting up and cleaning, painting of the old 855 Main St location with the idea of creating a Vintage shop. I was so excited as about 2 ½ years ago I left my Made In Bridgeport shop in the Arcade Mall and have been storing all the vintage merchandise from the shop that I am sure I was saving just for this very thing.
Some of those items can be found at the new City Lights Vintage shop and also every 3rd Saturday at the New Bridgeport Flea market. The Vintage shop is filled with marvelous things, from vintage radios, pottery and furniture to my favorite- Vintage Clothing. I love wearing vintage clothes!!! Another of my favorite items in the store was a mechanical hen that laid eggs. I was crazy about it. It made me laugh. It sold.
I’ve been collecting vintage items since I was 11- my maternal grandmother had an amazing attic filled with so many things from the past. During our visits to Maine to visit her, Grammie Welch would take the family on adventures to auctions and rummage sales would always find clothing she liked and rip it up to make quilts. My grandmother inspired the creative spark in me.
Earlier this summer I was asked to create a “Woolworth’s Window” on the Corner of Fairfield and Main St. It took a while for a vision of how I wanted it to look, but once in my head I was up to the challenge. The window has vintage merchandise from my collections reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s. I had so much fun putting the window together and happy that so many people look at that window on a daily basis. I love merchandising and window display- it was something I loved doing in my own shop when I was in the Arcade Mall. Always coming up with a creative theme every 6 weeks or so. I am thinking of creating “Got Windows???” I love doing window displays.
Q. What’s next? Are there any projects, markets, etc. you’d like to share about?
I am now preparing to get my work together and creating new stuff for the Bpt Art Trail which is coming real fast in November as well as creating new work for an up and coming show at City Lights called “BOOBS”. The focus is on Breast Cancer awareness, breasts- art, story, identity, healing and much more I am sure. Suzanne has a lot of WOW ideas and I am looking forward to working with her and Gaye Hyre who founded the Art Bra project with the mission to financially assist breast cancer patients with costs not covered by insurance. Within the next few months we will be asking people ( men and women) to create one of a kind artsy bras that will go on auction to help raise funds for the Art Bra project. I have been working on a Barnum and Bailey Bra for a while now, complete with a clown nose, circus animals, circus posters, and of course a box of animal crackers. I just need a Top Hat and someone to model it for the anticipated fashion/ show auction.
Q. Why do you think partnering with the community is important as an artist? In Bridgeport specifically?
Artists deliver something vital and celebratory to their community. It is not just about making the money, but it sure helps pay the bills. Art engages the community in direct conversation, connecting beauty, meaning and purpose. It has a capacity to heal too- partnering with agencies in the community gives participants in programs opportunities to explore and expand areas they might not ever have considered. Artist’s collaboration on projects and programs also creates camaraderie, the ability to share resources and knowledge. I find working with other artists takes me to a whole new dimension in the process of creating. I admire my fellow artists here in Bridgeport- some are even outright magical. Bridgeport needs that magic, that spark that can only be found through the creatives and the visionaries. Art has a voice, a message, speaks to the needs and the celebration of a strong community.
Q. What advice would you give to other artists?
I am learning as I go along-Take care of yourself, rest and don’t forget to eat. And don’t bite off more than you can chew… don’t be afraid to say NO when you need to say No and YES when you really want to do something, even if it scares you- but you know you’re really up to the challenge.. Don’t freak out when your art studio looks like it has been ransacked after a day or night of creating…you are not alone in the messiness of creativity, there are many more just like you-Laughing and figuring it out
I left a JOB in 2012 to pursue my creative life. I haven’t had a job in 5 years, I have been on a creative adventure and every encounter and opportunity has brought me- creative abundance. I am happy, I am more than grateful, somewhat healthy, not rich and not poor, I laugh, I love, I breath, I create…I live a creative life. It’s all I ever wanted.
EVENT FEATURE: “SAMESEX 2017”
This month we feature City Lights Gallery’s SameSex art exhibit and sponsoring organization, the Triangle Community Center.
In it’s 7th year, the annual exhibit explores LGBT themes, same-sex attraction, related feelings and issues of 2017. Artists need not be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender to participate and exhibit expressions of pride and solidarity.
Schedule of Events:
5:30 to 7:30 Same Sex Exhibit & Reception- $10
7:30 to 8:30 PM Bridgeport Pride March – Free
8:30 to 11 PM Post Pride Party w/Music & Drinks – $20
City Lights Gallery, 265 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604
“I sense that the convictions and partnerships of the inclusive community that produces and supports this event have grown. We have also developed a roster of exhibiting artists who create and look forward to participating annually along with returning attendees.
Every year we look for a new focus. We are collaborating with our building neighbors, the New England Ballet Company and the Downtown Cabaret Theatre to organize a post-party event. Plans in progress for the variety show line-up include members of Les Ballets Eloelle an all male comedy ballet company and a Liberace tribute.” –Suzanne Kachmar, Executive Director of City Lights Gallery
ABOUT THE TRIANGLE COMMUNITY CENTER
Fairfield County’s LGBTQ Community Center
Triangle Community Center is Fairfield County’s leading provider of programming and resources to nurture growth and connection within the LGBTQ community.
TCC is the only organization focused exclusively on the LGBTQ community in Fairfield County. TCC has existed for 27 years and until 2013 operated without full-time staff. TCC offers programs, services and events that provide critical and in some cases life-saving resources and assistance to the LGBTQ community in Fairfield County. TCC offers a co-sponsored housing program that works directly with TCC’s case manager, provides emergency financial assistance to clients in need, and other direct services. TCC works closely with Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project and World Health Clinicians on HIV/AIDS related outreach, testing initiatives, and creating a more informed and healthy LGBTQ community.
TCC served over 200 case management clients in 2015 alone, after that program’s inauguration in January of that year. We also serve over 300 individuals who attend our programs and services on a weekly basis as well as over 2000 members of the Fairfield County community who attend a TCC program or event at least once a year. While our primary service area is Fairfield County, we often see people travel from Westchester, New Haven, and Litchfield counties to attend one of the programs we offer. TCC’s key target population is the LGBTQ community in Fairfield County, however we welcome all who seek our services and have many clients who do not identify as LGBTQ.
(From TCC Website)
Arts at Pride in the Park
Pride in the Park 2017 was a Fairfield County LGBTQ Pride festival and open to all. Pride in the Park is a family-friendly Pride festival that brings you internationally-known entertainers and local performers. This year, the event featured Trixie Mattel from RuPaul’s Drag Race, comedian Julie Goldman, and musician Crystal Waters for free and live performances!
Iyaba Ibo Mandingo of City Lights Gallery was a participant at Pride in the Park, 2017
Photo Credit: The Hour Newsroom.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH FEATURE: “WORKING LARGE”
CARLOS DAVILA & RICK SHAEFER
This month we have a themed Artist of the Month feature “Working Large”.
“Working Large” highlights the recent large-scale installations of two Nest Arts Factory artists: Carlos Davila and Rick Shaefer.
Davila’s Titanosaurus sculpture measures 12′ high, 16′ long, and 7′ wide, and it weighs approximately 480 lbs. It is on display in a public park in Suwanee, Georgia for a two-year exhibit called SculpTour, which opens May 20 this year and runs through April 2019.
Schafer’s drawing of the American Bison, an 8′ x 12′ triptych was purchased by the State Department for their Art in Embassies Program. It is now installed in the new embassy in Chad, Africa as a potent symbol of our American history. He hopes his work adds to the dialogue about saving endangered species.
Learn more about these artists below.
ABOUT THE SCULPTURE
I have installed a large-scale outdoor sculpture in a public park in Suwanee, Georgia for a two-year exhibit called SculpTour, which opens May 20 this year and runs through April 2019. My sculpture, Titanosaurus, is a stylized, abstracted, contemporary dinosaur. I chose the form of a dinosaur because it is ideal for a family-friendly, interactive sculpture. Kids (of all ages) are fascinated by dinosaurs. These creatures can represent speed, power, or the ability to fly, while offering a form of escapism as a child imagines that they can be and do anything. They allow for infinite imaginary adventures.
This sculpture is constructed of marine-grade plywood that can withstand harsh weather and extreme temperatures, and does not split, crack, or warp, and each component is attached with stainless steel hardware (nuts, bolts, screws, base plates, etc.)
The dimensions of the Titanosaurus sculpture are 12′ high, 16′ long, and 7′ wide, and it weighs approximately 480 lbs. It stands on a concrete pad 16″ long and 8″ wide, provided by the city of Suwanee.
I work on a large scale because public art often needs to be large, having something huge that people can interact with (walk under or through) enhances their experience of it. Large public art also enhances and complements the area in which it is installed, giving residents something beautiful to see and feel pride in, and helps a town or city solidify a reputation for supporting art and culture, both of which are vital to quality of life.
When I traveled to Georgia to install the Titanosaurus, I was delighted to see how dedicated the city of Suwanee was to making space for art and particularly public art in their city. It was a magical sight, sculptures all around their city hall, sculptures as part of their public performing arts space, sculptures in their shopping areas. How rich the experience of the people living and visiting there! It is my hope that locally in Bridgeport, the same can be achieved.
I like to challenge myself to push materials and forms to their limits, to bring a vision in my head to larger-than-life reality.
I usually start with a sketch, then create a detailed to-scale drawing, which then becomes a small model, or maquette, before finally advancing to constructing the actual components of a large work. There are many variables to be considered when creating a large scale work, especially one meant to be displayed outdoors – things like durability, public safety, potential future maintenance, strength of materials, and scale.
MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST
I am currently working on more large-scale sculptures in this series, some depicting abstracted creatures, and others in geometric forms. Last week I exhibited several wall sculptures in the Portal Art Fair in Soho, New York City and I have several other upcoming exhibits.
In my drawing practice I tend to always come back to the line work. I find what I respond to and admire in other artists’ work, past or present, is usually the integrity of the line – whether it’s a single stroke or a mass of scribble in the shadows. Before I began this current series of charcoal drawings I studied Rembrandt’s etchings and Durer’s woodcuts for several months admiring the choices made and the economy of line. When I finally started the first drawing it ended up being a life-size rendering of a fallen Oak near me and was 5′ x 19′ which forced me to break out of any formality or preciousness in the technique and become more fluid.
For me the scale of larger drawings compels a distinct approach to the process of the mark-making — more gestural, almost calligraphic. If the rhythm is there you find yourself writing your way across the surface as if capturing thought in a frenzied rush of note taking.
I prefer drawing flora and fauna as near to life size as I can to capture the immediacy of the subject for the viewer. The first animal I did was an Indian Rhino which grew out of a fascination with Durer’s woodcut of the same. That drawing, and the American Bison which followed, were each 8′ x 12′ triptychs.
To be confronted by the animal full size and close up, and in your immediate space, gives a fresh perspective to our relationship with them.
MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST
I hope it adds to the dialogue about saving endangered species. The Rhino went to Mexico City and the American Bison was just purchased by the State Department for their Art in Embassies Program. It is now installed in the new embassy in Chad, Africa as a potent symbol of our American history.
The Refugee Trilogy, my response to the ongoing refugee crisis, is traveling to several venues in 2017 – 2018 and I will have a solo show of landscapes and animal drawings at Sears Peyton Gallery in NYC in the Fall 2017.
APRIL 2017: ARTIST OF THE MONTH
IYABA IBO MANDINGO
I am a multi-disciplined Artist from the Griot tradition, my objective is to use the material be it paint, ink, “garbage” found objects, words, acting, singing to tell the story of us…
Can you tell me about about the show “Unframed” and your role in it?
I began writing unFRAMED 15 years ago. As a multi-disciplined artist , I use paint, poetry, song and acting to tell the journey of my life as a boy in the Caribbean to a manhood in America.
You recently did a performance piece Afrika360. Can you tell me about that?
Afrika 360 grew out of my journey to Afrika in 2015. A month in South Afrika and 4 months in Nigeria rewired me in more ways than I can identify sometimes. One of the main ways is in my aesthetic as an artist. The performance piece in Afrika grows out of the foundation of Afrikan rituals and ceremonies. There’s a depth that I’ve never seen in western theatre. One is taught in western theatre to never break the fourth wall. In Afrikan theatre there is no fourth wall. So, for me, Afrika 360 represents the full 360 degree return to my source to the place my bloodline was stolen from.
What was the experience like participating in the exhibit “How we see you”?
“How We See You: A Perspective of Black Women Through the Eyes of Black Men” was a celebration of the black woman. Not only my mother, my grandmother, my wife, my sisters, and my daughters, but also as the mother of creation itself, of all of us.
Do you have any shows or exhibits in the Bridgeport area currently?
We just wrapped up Obsidian Colored Glasses at the Read ArtSpace. The exhibit was a multi artist show celebrating black artists. We are currently preparing work for the open studios this weekend at the Nest Arts Factory.
Other events/exhibits you’d like to share about?
My one man play unFRAMED will be making its off-Broadway debut. We open on April 5, 2017 and will have weekly shows through Mother’s Day. For more information and tickets, go to www.unFRAMEDtheshow.com
How do you think you’ve changed as an artist since last featured in the BPT Art Trail Newsletter?
As I’ve said before, going to Afrika feels and felt like I’ve achieved something I had been trying to do
More about Iyaba Ibo Mandingo
How would you describe your artwork/style?
I would describe my work as Neo-African Art…it is the embracing or re-embracing of Africa the continent and the cultures as an aesthetic over European influences.
What medium do you work in?
all of the above…I use everything, allow the material to tell me what it wants to do…this is also true for applying color, housepaint w/ dirt, pastels n oil sticks, acrylics, makers n pencils all offer a different way to tell the story.
What is your process like?
It varies depending on the objective, but usually my senses are awakened by a particular thing, incident or moment…I then listen through which ever sense reacted most to hear how it wants to come and what it wants to say.
FEBRUARY 2017: ARTIST OF THE MONTH
OLIVIER J-P KPOGNON
Olivier J-P Kpognon is an international lifestyle photographer and founder of O & Co. Media Group, a full-service photography, film and design studio launched in 2003.
Born in Belgium of a French mother and a Beninese Father and raised in the Washington DC area, Olivier developed a keen appreciation for international travel, style, design and the arts. Since launching his company, he has traveled throughout the United States and around the world – using his talents and expertise to capture his clients’ most memorable moments.
He has a formidable reputation among both his peers and clients for his exceptional creativity, talent and professionalism. He is an active and longstanding member of Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) & Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Olivier’s work is regularly published in bridal magazines such as Destination I Do and World Bride Magazine. In 2012, Olivier was distinguished as the Entrepreneur of the Year from the Westchester and Greater Connecticut Chapter of the National Black MBA Association.
The company’s client list includes multinational corporations such as GE, Boehringer Ingelheim, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Diageo, UBS and Kraft Foods. Olivier is proud of his work and relationships with local small businesses in his community and teaches photography to high school students. He was the official photographer for Fred’s Team representing the internationally-renown Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; the second largest team in the annual New York City Marathon. His company also serves private clients providing services that include portraits, families, and special events such as weddings.
Olivier credits his success to his willingness to leave a 10-year corporate finance career in commercial banking to pursue his passion. His advice to all is; “know you can follow your passion, finding your passion is key: talent, alone, is not enough and, if you do what you’re passionate about, you will be more motivated to succeed.” One of is his favorite quotes is, “I love what I do and I do what I love.”
Q&A with Olivier J-P Kpognon
How would you describe your artwork/style?
My artwork/style is photojournalistic or documentary as shown in my latest photo exhibit “How We See You”
What medium do you work in?
I work in digital imagery
What is your process like?
My process is both spontaneous and calculated as I search for inspiration and potential subjects.
What inspires you?
Life inspires me. Anything can inspire me: people, places, colors and events.
Can you tell me more about leaving the Finance field and starting O &Co. Media Group. What was that process like? What motivated the shift?
I voluntarily left my corporate life to try my hand at a career in photography because it was my passion. When I discovered that others where making a living from it, particularly the photographer that I was sub-contracting for, I gave my resignation. I created a website of my work and advertised my company on a very popular wedding web portal site to get exposure. Additional personal reasons motivated the shift such as the influence of my mother who was an artist.
You have worked with many notable clients. Are there some projects that stand out to you that you’d like to share about?
I have worked with many clients in settings all around the world. Most notably Nicole Garwood of Garwood Events for the grand opening of the Temenos Golf Club. That opening was a weeklong event in the beautiful country of Anguilla with star-studded celebrities.
In your opinion, how is wedding photography different from regular photography?
Wedding photography differs in the sense that it combines many different types of photography into one event: product, portrait, landscape, flash and nighttime photography among others. Add to the fact that you are photographing a very emotional day with many people in a short amount of time, under changing lighting conditions with no room for errors.
How do you think you’ve changed or developed as an artist?
I shoot more from my heart and think less about the technical since I know what I’m doing. I have increased my level of confidence over the years which helps me to connect with my subject.
Can you tell me a bit about your work in the “How we see you” exhibition?
The “How We See You” exhibition is a collection of street images I took in Bamako, Mali portraying everyday women and life in this capital city.
Why were you interested in participating in this show?
I wanted to portray women of color in a positive light. I also wanted to highlight the beauty of daily scenes in Africa in my own way.
What are some topics you addressed in your artist talk?
I discussed what I believe is a women’s strengths, love, work and superior intellect and show how women are thriving in challenging contexts.
Any additional information or upcoming events you’d like to share?
I am planning several photography events this month in CT and currently working on funding a trip for a coffee table book called “54” showcasing life in the 54 African countries.
JANUARY 2017: ORGANIZATION OF THE MONTH
THE SCHELFHAUDT GALLERY
This month Gallery Director Peter Konsterlie shared about the Schelfhaudt Gallery, their upcoming exhibition,and talks with artists about their panel discussion during the 2016 Bridgeport Art Trail.
About the Schelfaudt Gallery
The ABC Gallery, which originally opened in 1968 at the Arnold Bernhard Center, has a terrific history of commitment to its local community and the Arts. The gallery has featured some of the most important artists in American art from Robert Motherwell to Red Grooms, Louise Nevelson, and Alice Neel. In October 2012, The University of Bridgeport changed the gallery’s name to the Schelfhaudt Gallery, in honor of Peter Schelfhaudt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the advertising firm Creative Partners. Mr. Schelfhaudt’s gift to UB supports the gallery, through exhibitions and visiting-artist programs, the Arnold Bernhard Center and to the great benefit of the University and the surrounding community. Artists provide unique insight into the human experience, reflect society, expose its humanity, and ideally lead and inspire. I am pleased to support the University’s commitment to resurrecting the vitality of the Arnold Bernhard Center so that students and the local community can enjoy and participate in the arts.
The Schelfhaudt Gallery is one of the largest and prestigious galleries of the Fairfield area, boasting of more than 3500 square feet of exhibition space. Based in the newly renovated Shintaro Akatsu School of Design on the University of Bridgeport Campus, it stands as a high watermark of creative thought and design. The gallery’s mission statement is to showcase mid-career and emerging professional artists for cultural and educational experiences. Located by the beautiful shoreline of Long Island Sound, it is an oasis for culture and the arts.
About the Reality of Abstraction exhibit and Panel Discussion
Abstract art has had a wide birth of creation. Hard-edged and painterly brush strokes permeate the gallery with colorful expression. The exhibition consists of paintings, and sculptures looking through the lenses of nonobjective imagery. The exhibition is a great sampling of what today’s contemporary artists are doing.
Curated by Peter Konsterlie.
Featured artists include: Cat Balco, Mike Childs, Rob Fischer, Chris Mercier, Anne Sherwood Pundyk, David Rich, Vincent Verrillo, Cecilia Whittaker-Doe, Becky Yazdan
Notes on the Reality of Abstraction Panel Discussion November 2016
Konsterlie: How much Do you identify with Abstract Expressionists?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk I have always identified strongly with the Abstract Expressionists, even when I was working figuratively. I admire their commitment to bringing an introspective mode and a formal radicalism to American painting. Clyfford Still’s work especially appeals to me now because of his spare pictorial language that relies on flat, irregular expanses of color. His work seems to refer to dry, western or even lunar landscapes, but also evokes the realm of sensation and skin. I just reviewed the recent landmark Abstract Expressionist exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. Here is a link to my review: http://www.artcritical.com/2016/11/05/anne-sherwood-pundyk-on-abstract-expressionism/
David Rich About 29%. (joke) When I was in high school, a major show of Willem de Kooning made a big impact on me for the combination of improvisation and cohesiveness. I also loved Philip Guston, both for the density of his work, and later for his impatience with how abstract expressionism had settled into a too-predictable genre. Remember that by the 1950’s there was a lot of very derivative and mannered abstract expressionist painting. The movement carries a lot of historical baggage, including assumptions about universals, of which many of us today are skeptical.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe I identify with the gesture of their work; that meaning and energy can be encompassed in the gesture of a brushstroke. I think it’s a generous way to communicate through paint in that it requires the artist to believe that the action of their efforts will carry their knowledge and experience. In my own work I use various technique and feel that I can draw upon the findings of others before me. I love being an image maker first and foremost, and believe the image is arrived at both physically on the paintings surface, and visually for the viewer.
Cat Balco hindered by the bravado of Ab. Ex. William deKooning,
Vincent Verrillo I like the Ab. Ex. Emotional impact.
Becky Yazdan There is something incredibly seductive about Abstract Expressionism. The emotion, the materials, the grand scale… The stories of de Kooning, Pollock and Rothko hanging out at Cedar Tavern haunted me while I was studying at the New York Studio School on 8th St. Ultimately, though I think some of them took themselves too seriously and the massive scale was so tied up in machismo which was a turn-off.
Konsterlie: Who are your influences?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk I love the work of the post-impressionist painter Edouard Manet for both the magic of his paint handling and the way he challenged narrative conventions. Modern and contemporary painters I admire include Matisse, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler and Alan Shields, but also the color and light installations of James Turrell, the activist work of Suzanne Lacy and modern dancers such as Merce Cunningham. The work that I’m doing now brings together the essence of my interest in traditional painting with movement, dance and gesture. I am not making a window into another space the way a painting typically works, but bringing the space in my work out to envelop my audience. I want them to be the subject of my paintings.
David Rich Elizabeth Murray, Philip Guston, Amy Sillman, Thomas Nozkowski, and others who don’t necessarily look like each other, but who bring a restless inquiry to finding what the next painting needs to be.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe I have influences of course from art history –Burchfield, Bourgeios, O’Keeffe, Degas, El Greco, Chagall, Emile Nolde and his contemporaries. I also have worked with a few artists who had a great impact on me. In the late 80’s, working at Tallix Art Foundry, I had the opportunity to work along side Nance Graves. She was building tree – like forms by welding all kinds of cast objects together – fans, exotic looking vegetables and fruits she found in New York City’s China Town. I assisted her in applying patina onto the finished sculptures. I also worked on a Bill Tucker sculpture, one of the large cast bronze rock – like forms. I liked the way both artists combined aspects of our human form and our natural environment in their work, and in very different ways from each other.
Cat Balco “My influences change all the time, Judy Ledgerwood, Gary Stephan, Stephanie Mann,
Vincent Verrillo El Greco was an influence. Purple and blacks, Hans Hoffman, Jackson Pollock,
Becky Yazdan Alice Neel, Matisse (turtle painting), Gustave Courbet’s Burial at Ornans), Philip Guston’s late work, Nozcowski, Forest Bess
Konsterlie: What do you think about Terry Winters, Bill Jensen, and Joanne Greenbaum’s work?
David Rich: I’ve enjoyed quality time with works by all three. One thing that often strikes me about Terry Winters is that a painting might have a seemingly-simple first read, perhaps two or three main color chords, and after a while the presence of a small amount of a fourth or fifth tone, one that wouldn’t seem to fit, influences the tonality of the whole painting, giving it a slightly dissonant buzz.
Becky Yazdan I studied with Bill Jensen in grad school and he was very influential on my work. He taught me about “getting out of the painting’s way” and allowing the content to emerge rather than forcing your will on the painting. He helped me see that painting is not about fixing things.
Konsterlie: Who are the important abstract painters working today?
David Rich I’m interested in Mark Bradford, and agree that Jackie Saccoccio and Gary Stephan are also relevant.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe I like Jackie Saccoccio’s work. She seems to be able to be very free with the paint and also go back into the paintings without losing the immediacy in the work. “Abstract” is difficult to define when talking about artists. I think it’s really fluid. Louise Fishman, Margaret Evangeline, Merlin James (encompassing a very “fluid” definition of “abstract”) and Charline von Heyl.
Becky Yazdan Nozkowksi, Amy Sillman, Jonathan Lasker, Bill Jensen, Chris Martin
Anne Sherwood Pundyk I am especially taken right now with Katherina Grosse is an important German contemporary painter who creates painting installations and works on different supports, including abandoned houses and piles of dirt. What comes through is her excitement about color and movement. There is an almost disposable feel to her works, but they are grounded in an appreciation of modern painting.
Konsterlie: Does “collage” play a role in development in your composition.
David Rich: Yes, even though none of my paintings in this show involve collage. But the sense of painting incorporating rude interruptions of other materials and everyday life has always been important to me.
Konsterlie: Do you feel the viewer should be able to know what your painting is about?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk Yes. All the decisions I make while creating a painting such as size, materials, combinations of colors, placement of the spills and geometric formations, generate elements that my audience can read while standing in front of my painting. The experience of absorbing all the elements together, as well as other associations they may bring to the work becomes what the painting is “about.”
David Rich For me painting needs to be compelling, like it demands to be read. I don’t mean in a literal way. But there is something confrontational about it, which puts the viewer on the spot. And as the viewer becomes engaged with seeing the painting, the painting takes on something of a train of thought, or time, compressed into a visual object. Abstract painting doesn’t have to be for everybody, but on the other hand, it can be for anybody.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe About 6 years ago I thought of collage as a way of making my compositions in painting. Not to make collages separately, but to start applying the paint in a way that disregarded the linear sense of the composition and instead used the disjointed appearance of collage. Collage works for me when it has this disjointed appearance but at the same time combines lines and imagery to make a whole. This is how I wanted to paint.
Cat Balco Susan Sontag,
Vincent Verrillo modern poetry,
Becky Yazdan The viewer does not need to know what the painting is about, although they need to be able to relate to it in some way. The titles of my paintings offer clues to the content but I am not interested in spelling anything out – I like for them to remain open enough that the viewer can bring in their own associations. My work deals with specific personal experiences and memories and my hope is that by dealing with the particular, the paintings will be accessible to a broader audience through a sense of shared human experience.
Konsterlie: Do you start with something in mind when you start a painting? (Automatic marks)?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk I find that the first freeform spills, blot or pours that I make when starting a painting each release a specific kind of energy that becomes part of the work. I will opt to begin on a certain size of canvas or paper and use a color that resonates with me and I even may have an idea of a shape for the paint, but the experience of comparing my intention with the reality of the execution is an important first reckoning.
David Rich For me a painting starts with an idea, a situation, or a conflict and then goes through a restless process of reworking, editing and improvisation. The process is like ‘destination unknown’. Weirdly, though, the painting often ends up pretty consistent with the initial intent.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe For some reason the natural landscape resonates with me. It connects for me not only with our psychological and physical existence within it, but with the visual connections I find between our bodies and the forms within it This is where I begin. I start with either a watercolor gestural painting on the surface or a silkscreened image I’ve prepared. From there I react to what is in front of me and I try to respond to the imagery that is conjured through this process.
Cat Balco “take care of your affections.”
Becky Yazdan My paintings often start with a color idea or a shape I noticed on the walk to the studio – anything to get me started. I don’t know what the end result will be until the painting has asserted itself and the meaning has become (more or less) clear. The goal is for the painting to become its own self, its own idea.
Konsterlie: How do you choose your palette?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk There is both specificity and an improvisational quality to my color combinations. Each color carries associations for me of emotions, place, time or experiences. As I layer and combine different colors, I am melding these associations creating a new personal reality.
David Rich My sense of light constructed from color comes from when I was working from observation. Late afternoon and early evening light often inform my work. It is this relational sense of color, more than symbolism, that shapes the way I work with color intervals.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe “No formula for coloring palette.
Vincent Verrillo “mood or feeling”
Konsterlie: What is the task of “painting” for society?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk Society encourages us almost relentlessly to conform to the views of others, and not to think and feel for ourselves. Painting connects to the value and power of recognizing the individual point of view.
David Rich Instead of being an escape from the world, painting can be a way more deeply into our lived experience. That’s why I like your title for this show, Reality of Abstraction. It suggests that we are not just in our own little subjective bubbles, but rather are engaged in the world, and each other, in an inter-subjective way.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe it’s like poetry
Cat Balco Mondrian, Theosophical Society- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
Hilma af Klint (October 26, 1862 – October 21, 1944) was a Sweden artist and mystic whose paintings were amongst the first abstract art. A considerable body of her abstract work predates the first purely abstract compositions by Kandinsky. She belonged to a group called “The Five” (a circle of women who shared her belief in the importance of trying to make contact with the so-called ‘high masters’ – often by way of séances) and her paintings, which sometimes resembled diagrams, were a visual representation of complex spiritual ideas.
ABOUT THE UPCOMING EXHIBITION “SELFIE”
Open Call to Artists: “Selfie” an exhibition of self-portraits
The Schelfhaudt Gallery has a special opportunity for artists to express themselves…literally! We are assembling a show of self-portraits.
During her lifetime, Frida Kahlo created some 200 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits. When asked why she painted so many self-portraits, Frida replied:”Because I am so often alone…because I am the subject I know best.”
Pablo Picasso posed the question, “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?
If you would like to participate, please email a self-portrait, along with a brief bio, to:firstname.lastname@example.org
SUBMISSION DETAILS: http://www.schelfhaudtgallery.com/press-release-open-call-to-artists/
Q. I see that all mediums are accepted except photography. Why is that?
A. Because the premise of the show is a sample of the self-portrait tradition and not a trending version brought on by a technical advancement of the phone/camera.
Please join us on Friday Feb. 10th from 5:00-7:30pm for a wine and cheese and music reception to celebrate the show! Please tell family, friends, and guests are welcome!
Free to attend but kindly RSVP.
The reception is free and open to the public. The exhibition runs through April 8th.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, 12 to 4 p.m.
Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD) on the University of Bridgeport campus is located in the Arnold Bernhard Center (ABC), 84 Iranistan Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604.
Off street parking is available.
Reality of Abstraction Artists
Cat Balco http://catbalco.com/home.html
Mike Childs http://www.mikechilds.net
Rob Fischer http://Rob-Fischer.com
Anne Sherwood Pundyk annepundyk.com
David Rich http://www.davidrich.net
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe https://ceciliawhittaker-doe.com/gallery/
Becky Yazdan Http://beckyyazdan.com
Gallery website: http://www.schelfhaudtgallery.com/reality-of-abstraction/