Fairfield Arts Center Juried Sale delivers “wow” factor
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Fairfield, CT – Splashy. Brilliant. Expressive. These were some of the appraisals overheard as one strolled the gallery at the Fairfield Arts Center Friday evening Sept. 9 as the downtown institution kicked off its three-day Salon D’Automne Juried Art Sale.
Ushered in with a well-attended cocktail reception, the event, held at FAC’s 70 Sanford Street homebase, pulled work from some of the finest regional artists and set it out for collectors, enthusiasts and the art curious to inspect, admire and, with luck, purchase.
One featured artist was Loren DePalma, showing two very vibrant acrylic, layered paintings of fruit, titled “Jewels” and “Ripe”. DePalma explained, “I experiment and explore a lot. I took photos of fruit and then painted from them, then I gave them a phosphorescent appearance.”
Derek Leka, a West Haven artist, was as happy to show as he was to appreciate the work of his fellow craftsmen. In particular, he, and sidekick Sheila McLaughlin of Sandy Hook, liked two miniature-sized paintings of dogs titled “Best Friends” by Carla Devens. “It reminds me of our own dogs,” he said.
Leka’s own work, for which he won a “Best in Show” award from Juror John Kandalaft, a professor at the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design at the University of Bridgeport, was on the opposite side of the spectrum from the canine theme. Titled “Metatron”, the large acrylic work focused on electricity and power and man’s relationship with circuitry, a theme he has pursued since 2004. “The lightened cobalt background adds a lot of luminosity,” he commented.
On the wall to the right of his work hung two more exemplary pieces – “Silvery Moons” and “Many Moons Ago” – which were created by Toby Michaels and captured “Honorable Mention” accolades.
Argentina-born Carolina Guimarey, looking spectacular in a simple yet elegant tomato red dress, was excited to exhibit her pieces “Forgotten Roses II” and “Breaking the Emptiness”. She shared, “I explore the visual paradox of the disconnection between our perceived social interaction and the existential isolation of our times in an abstract, post-minimalist approach.” To that extent, her mixed-media compositions use a limited color palette to emphasize texture, materials and geometric forms. “Red is one of the few colors I allow myself to use,” she added.
Sporting funky red-rimmed glasses, perky artist Kristine DeMarco offered “Art Basel Miami”, an oil and acrylic piece on canvas that might be described as colored flecks on a pea soup background. It was inspired by what she said was a “much more expensive piece” she saw at the Florida-based show of the same name. “This is my own interpretation,” she commented, “conveying energy and a journey. I own a holistic health center and listen to people talk about pain all day, so this is a good release.”
As excited as the artists were to be showing was Harry Laurie, an art collector from Black Rock and former student of Burt Chernow’s. Laurie’s personal collection includes artwork by Picasso, Miro, Tapies and Warhol. “When I look at art, it brings me a thought,” he said. “This changes every day, the vibration. Burt was an incredible teacher who started the Housatonic Art Collection, which features museum quality artwork.”
Westport painter Kim Porio was proud to show “Tulips”, an oil-based piece showing red tulips in a white vase. “This is a piece I did last year,” she said. “It was winter and I was yearning for spring, so this anticipated the season.”
The most junior, though no less competent, artist was Fairfielder Megan Garbe, 23, who was showing “Bronze Horse”. “I found a bronze horse at a white elephant sale at Assumption Church,” she said. “Whenever I see an object that’s very interesting to me, I like to isolate and showcase it.”
Garbe had a built-in support team comprised of her mother Mary, sister Molly and exchange student Paloma Lafitte. “We really love events that highlight local artists,” said Mary. “It’s important for communities to showcase local talent. It brings us all together.”
As splashy and energetic as her paintings was Iranian-born Westport artist Sholeh Janati, who was featuring her acrylic works “Matador” and “LeCirque.” Janati’s formative years, she explained, were spent in a repressive culture in which there was no appreciation for art or creative expression. When she came to the United States, in 1988, her long-suppressed artistic talents were awakened. Since then, she has painted in all mediums and subjects including nudes, portraits, abstracts, landscapes and still life. “The vibrancy of the colors in my work is intended to reflect my naked vision of the passion and angst of modern life,” she commented.