Canton Artists' Guild: October 2006

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Look Back at the 2006 Shows at the Gallery on the Green

In April and May of this year, the Canton Artists’ Guild played host to a multimedia event entitled “Is This Working for Me Anymore?” The show was curated by Walter Kendra, who is president of the Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Fund, Inc., and was conceived as a tribute to the late Canton resident Gordon Bowman.

Walter’s concept for the show was to capture the spirit and creativity evident in the New York art scene of the 1950’s. To achieve this he invited four contemporary artists whose work is influenced by that scene to exhibit their work at the gallery. The artists were Charles Cajori, Barbara Grossman, Joseph Byrne and John Willis.

The exhibit also included two receptions with music by the Sir William Quintet, a jazz band headed by Bill Stillinger, which includes musicians of national prominence like the 2006 Grammy Award winner Jeff Holmes. Interspersed with the music were readings from Gordon Bowman and other writers of the 1950’s performed by actors Kevin Rita and Ed Parsons.

At the closing reception, guests were further treated to a video installation by Collinsville artist Gene Gort, who layered imagery from 1950’s film and television onto the gallery’s walls during the musical interludes. Mr. Kendra not only succeeded in capturing the energy and enthusiasm of the 1950’s art scene that month, but imbuing our gallery with the same spirit.

Showing concurrently with “Is This Working for Me Anymore” were the “Circles of Confusion” show and a solo show of works by Judy Cantwell. The “Circles” show was curated by Marcia Reid Marsted. Marcia is a longtime member of this group of distinguished and experimental photographers. Judy Cantwell’s exhibit, which filled the Spotlight gallery and stair hall, showed many of her mixed-media pieces based on historical fragments.

From the end of May until the end of June the second floor of the gallery was filled with members’ artwork in the 46th Anniversary Show. This show is an annual members-only event, and celebrates the foundation of the Canton Artists’ Guild in 1960. The Guild is the oldest continuously-running artists’ co-operative in the State of Connecticut.

Exhibited adjacent to the Anniversary Show was work by artist Margaret Wilson. Her brightly colored abstract pastels and giclee prints glowed in the intimate space of the Spotlight gallery. On the first floor, longtime member Felix Bronner had an exhibition of his new large abstract oil paintings. The works showed Felix’s mastery of restrained color and beautifully balanced composition.

Taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather in July was the Indoor-Outdoor Sculpture Show. This show, which was open to members and guests, was co-curated by Julie Palmer and Steph Dascanio. An abundance of work in various media was exhibited throughout the first floor gallery and the sculpture garden. The show was eclectic and energetic, a spirit that was matched at the opening reception by artist member Jon Eastman, who acted as DJ for dancing and partying that members enjoyed throughout the evening. It was a delight to see the gallery filled with such strong three-dimensional work.

In the second floor gallery, artist Gail Hinchen exhibited a show of her mixed-media pieces. Gail uses discarded tea bags in her work for texture and color, and arranges them in geometric patterns in harmony with her painted canvasses. In the Spotlight gallery, artist Jeff Korp exhibited his first solo show at the Gallery on the Green. Jeff’s work, which won a prize in our 2004 Open Show, includes comical yet haunting images of the human figure.

The Gallery was closed for the month of August for our annual repainting and other repairs. During that period the Buildings and Grounds Committee built a new exterior stair from the second floor to the sculpture garden. The stair is fully code conforming and replaces our old stair which was in very bad shape. A huge thank you to Steph Dascanio, Victor Leger and Dick Ivany for all their fine work!

The first show after the summer break was the Bicentennial Show. The show was curated by Greg Kriss and Tom Kutz, and featured the work of our members and guests, with many images based on the town of Canton. A crowd of approximately 250 attended the Opening Reception on September 9th, which featured the book launch and signing party for the Canton Commemorative Bicentennial Book by Jane Hoben. The reception included a garden party, with food generously donated by Flatbread and wine by Bahre’s Package Store, both in Canton. We thank these businesses for supporting us with their donations!

Concurrently, members Susan Crawford and Walter Hampton exhibited their work in the large second floor gallery. Susan showed her series of small and intricately detailed monotypes, while Walt’s show featured his moody, black-and-white landscape photographs.
In the Spotlight gallery, Tom Kutz displayed a large collection of his current photographs, including images from various town bicentennial events and his digitally altered large format photographs.

The Gallery closed again for one week at the end of September to prepare for the 39th Annual Open Show. This show is the largest that the gallery hosts, and was curated by Rownie Okie and Tom Rickis. The show drew work from most New England states and from as far away as Ohio and filled both floors of the Gallery. Serving as juror for the show was Maura O’Shea, the Director of Education at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Ms. O’Shea selected 70 works from the approximately 130 works submitted, and awarded prizes to 14 of the artists. Board President Susan Bradley presented the awards at the Opening Reception, which was held on October 7. Member Peggy Dembicer won First Prize ($250 donated by the Mitchell Auto Group) for her intricately detailed mixed-media piece entitled “Candy Land”. Congratulations Peggy!

Other prize winners that evening were: Diana Dash for “Still Life with Tulips” ($150 donated by the First National Bank of Litchfield), James P. Stasiak for “Portrait of a Curve” ($150 Charles and Doris Currier Memorial Photography Prize), Thomas Rickis for “Closed for the Season” ($100 donated by the Collinsville Savings Society) and for “Walpole Barns” ($100 donated by Arthur Lowell Accounting), Bob Perkowski for “Sea Things” ($100 donated by Artistic Images of Canton), Carol A. Taylor for “Creation Song” ($75 donated by Dynamic Auto Works), Jordan Reese Ford for “Past Present Future” ($75 Nancy Cloutier Memorial Prize), Steve Wilda for “White Feathered” ($50 Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Foundation prize), Paul Batch for “Quintin with Orange Collar” ($50 donated by Blick Art Materials), Susan Fox for “And They Shall Fetch Thee Jewels” ($50 Martha Summers Urban Memorial Prize), Ellen K. Stiles for “My New England” (Mitchell Manchester Memorial Prize), Steve Stucko for “Collinsville Triptych” ($50 in Memory of Peg Douglass), Thomas Stavovy for “Vista” ($50 donated by Collinsville Framing), and Martha H. Fortmann for “Sunset on Pond” ($25 donated by Jerry’s Artarama).

Congratulations to all our prize winners and a huge thank-you to all our prize donors!

On October 12 the Canton Artists’ Guild held its Annual Meeting at the Gallery on the Green. Approximately 25 members participated and approved the 2007 Program Calendar (included in this Newsletter) and elected a new slate of Officers and Board of Directors. Susan Bradley will continue as President of the Board in 2007, Tom Rickis will be Vice-President, Lauren McCoy, Treasurer, and Marie Salamon, Secretary. Board Members for 2007 will be Judy Cantwell, Susan Crawford, Steph Dascanio, Kent McCoy, Brendan Miggins, Margaret Wilson and Joe Yeno. Thank you to all who serve on the Board!

The Guild provided a light supper (great pizzas from Flatbread), supplemented by “pot luck” side dishes and desserts provided by our members, and there was a raffle drawing of one free year’s Artist-Volunteer dues. New member Arlene Johnson was the winner- Congratulation Arlene!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Public Lecture by American Artist Stuart Shils at Gallery on the Green - October 24, 2006 - 7:30 P.M.

The Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Fund, Inc.

American Artist

Looking at Landscape: The Nature of Painting
and the Culture of Perception

Tuesday evening, October 24, 2006, 7:30 p.m.
Gallery on the Green
Canton, Connecticut

Stuart Shils' expressionist landscapes have been exhibited widely to great critical attention. His paintings, oil pastels, and monotypes take as their subject the rural landscapes of County Mayo, Ireland. Shils is a painter of specific moments, working quickly to capture shifting light and weather conditions, time of day and qualities of season. In a recent review, art critic Maureen Mullarkey observed that "his landscapes dwell on the uncertain border between representation and abstraction; increasingly, they cross into pure suggestion. Landscape is inseparable from scenery; yet scenes all but dissolve, Turner-like, in these modestly scaled oils. In their place is something more elusive, harder to evoke: the mood of a locale and the temper of its weather. With each successive show, Mr. Shils reveals himself as a poet of atmosphere."

In an exhibition essay on the artist's work, Justin Spring writes, "These beautifully focused small works are intimate in scale, suggesting that they have been designed for domestic spaces. They are inspired by European art of nearly two centuries ago, but the partake in the contemporary dialogue of New York painting. In recognizing and emulating the genius of Corot and other European, pre-modern masters and by incorporating them into what is essentially a contemporary style, Shils, an American painter, has suggested new ways to consider the politics and precedents of landscape in contemporary painting." Stuart Shils studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Philadelphia College of Art. Mr. Shils is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Ballinglen Arts Foundation Fellowship for Residency in Ballycastle, Ireland.

A free will donation to provide future support to visual artists and musicians may be made to the Fund at the lecture.