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Monday, February 7, 2011

"The Guy Show" Exhibit Scores Fans

“The Guy Show” Exhibit Scores Fans:
Artplace Gallery opening debuts the work of regional male artists
(Posted to 2/6)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – It seemed appropriate that the opening reception for a new Artplace Gallery exhibit titled “The Guy Show” should fall on the same day as one of America’s biggest machismo contests, the Super Bowl. The gathering even offered the type of snacks and an elevated level of excitement that one might find at a football event.

But the attention Sunday afternoon at the 11 Unquowa Road space was not on pigskins but the work of ten regional male artists from Fairfield and New Haven counties. Featured were painters Chris Durante, Chris Joy, Zachary Keeting, Felandus Thames and Jonathan Winters; photographers Keith Johnson and Jeremy Keats Saladyga; sculptors Joseph Saccio and Silas Finch; and constructionist Joseph Fucigna.

“The gallery is a cooperative with 23 members all sharing in the expense and decision-making of the venue,” said the exhibit’s curator Gerald Saladyga. “Twenty-one of the 23 members are women and, as such, the shows here have been women-dominated. I suggested an all-male format for a change, to which the group positively responded.”

Saladyga said all the artists are known to him, that he admired and respected their work and that there is a good mix of new and established talent. He added that the show helps close a divide between artists in each county. “I’ve sensed that there’s a Great Wall of China between Fairfield and New Haven counties. Artists from each region have not really interacted with each other. This provides a platform for them to do that.”

The intimacy of the Artplace space allowed viewers to focus in on the art and connect with its subject matter, of which Kevin Stevens and Lolly Renault of Stratford were taking total advantage. “We go to a lot of the shows here,” said Renault. “The male-oriented format is refreshing. I’m seeing some really good work.”

Fellow show attendee Bill Adams, who has been a long-time fan of Artplace, agreed. “The guy-orientation of the art drew me here. The show is proving to be very unique.”

Attendee Miggs Burroughs from Westport, a photographer/graphic artist himself, was busy enjoying the work and getting inspired. “I’m not a formally trained photographer so it’s great to get stimulation from other creative minds that are edgier than mine. I like to absorb anything visual. We’re all perpetual students.”

Tom Danis, 26, of Stamford, and Supriya Gundewar, 23, of Norwalk, who admitted to being inexperienced about viewing art, were fascinated with the works of Finch and Jeremy Solaydyga. “I wouldn’t normally go to a gallery on my own. It’s nice that they have forums like this,” said Gundewar.

For the artists’ part, they were glad to have the attention and provided background on their artwork. “I’ve been painting seriously since I was 18, working in mixed media,” said Chris Joy, 36. “I have three oil paintings in the show, which have magic marker and pencil designs as the understructure. My goal was to personalize abstraction and use odd shapes that move away from the typical rectangular painting shape.”

Joy, who is also the co-founder of the website, which features studio interviews with local artists (including several featured in “The Guy Show”), added, “The show heightens particular aspects of all our work. My floral-based paintings suddenly stand out in a guy-oriented format.”

Silas Finch, who described himself as less a sculptor and more of a “Found Object Assemblage” artist, said he gets inspiration from a variety of areas. “I browse flea markets and people’s basements, and get items from family and friends. I like to make a natural union between two contrasting items, like airships that are childlike but that have macabre elements.”

Finch’s reference was to his work “U.S.S. Imminent”, a Zeppelin-like construction that he had wrapped with the dramatic front page of a circa WWII newspaper.  

“This show is a little more cutting edge for Fairfield,” summed up curator Solaydyga, “touching on political, environmental and racial identity themes. Of course, it does this while also being aesthetically pleasing.”

“The Guy Show” runs through Feb. 26. For more information, call the Artplace Gallery at 203-292-8328.