To herald the fall season, the Silvermine Arts Center of New Canaan will host a diverse blend of new exhibits opening on Sunday, Sept. 23, and running through Saturday, Nov 3.
The exhibitions bring together a wide range of collage, drawing, painting and sculpture. Topics range from the culturally minded imagery of Camille Eskell and Mikhail Gubin to the surreal environmentally concerned work of Joan Wheeler, the ceramic faces of Susan Halls and an historical exhibition.
An opening reception will take place on Sept. 23, from 2 to 4 p.m.
"The Ezekiel Project," is a new series of works by the Silvermine Guild artist. The series reflects the uncertainty, vulnerability and hope of restoring today's cultural climate. Using the fragmented figure as metaphor and testimonial, these images depict stripped and windswept torsos set adrift in expanses that suggest the cosmos, to underscore the sense of aimlessness and instability.
"Starting with my vision of the finished work, which sparks my creative process, this series continues to explore the psychological themes of withdrawal, transcendence and redemption that inform my work in both 2- and 3-D media," said Eskell.
The series title also alludes to her family name, Ezekiel, before it was Anglicized by an uncle, who immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, to better fit into American society. Close examination reveals hints of lace designs in her artwork, an emblem of a long-held family business.
Eskell has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the United States and abroad.
Local and national venues have included HP Garcia Gallery and Denise Bibro Gallery in New York City, the Chrysler Museum in Virginia, the William Benton Museum of Art and the Stamford Museum in Connecticut, Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan and the Greenville County Museum of Art in South Carolina. International exhibitions have taken place at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogota, Columbia, and Mexico City, and Museo de Art Contemporaneo in Caracas, Venezuela. Her works can also be found in public and private collections, including the Chrysler Museum of Art in Virginia, the Housatonic Museum in Connecticut and the Islip Art Museum in New York. Eskell has been awarded several grants and honors including Artist Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and residencies with the Weir Farm Visiting Artist Program and the Vermont Studio Center. She has a Master of Fine Art degree from Queens College/CUNY. She lives and works in New Canaan The works in Russian-born Gubin's new exhibit "Splintery Configurations" are all united by one idea, the use of recycled materials. They are then unified through the use of collage. The idea of a caring attitude toward nature and to the earth's dwindling resources is not a new concept, but one that teaches its importance. What Gubin does in this exhibit is to focus the viewer's attention on this issue and how it is manifested in daily life, from what is worn, eaten, seen and thought. For the creation of his wood sculptures, he uses discarded wood with the intent to gain awareness for the disregard of wood waste construction materials in big cities.
"I take pleasure in the process of creation and enjoy the idea to give new birth to thrown out wooden things through my sculpture," he said.
On discussing his work, the New York City artist said he works spontaneously. "At one point or another, it will strike me to start working on something new, and then I break the ice. From that point on, I am completely in the grip of the idea that's arisen. I hate routine. I am saved when a new idea comes -- and it starts all over again." Born in Kharkov, Soviet Union (now the Ukraine), Gubin attended art school and private training workshops in art and photography in the 1960s. He attended Art and Tech College in Zagorsk, a region of Moscow, and came to the United States in 1989; he became a U.S. citizen in 1995. Gubin has had 31 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 200 group shows in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. He is a member of the Audubon Artists, Silvermine Guild of Artists, Sculptors Guild and the National Collage Society.
The scrutinizing ceramic faces in Halls' exhibition "Head to Head," fill the gallery with a continuous seam of small sculptures that penetrate the space and force viewers to confront each piece as if they were looking at a criminal lineup. The observer becomes the observed, the faces invite and repel, and hopefully, disturb. No one sculpture is larger than the hand, and the intimate scale draws the viewer in close. Soft clay that has been pushed, pulled and pinched becomes ambiguous hybrid creatures reminiscent of an ape, bird, goat and dog. Occasionally, man-like images emerge, connections from our primitive past.
"My obsession with animals and animal imagery has been more or less constant since my childhood," said Halls,"so it is beyond doubt that they should be the dominant subject in my work. It seems right and the most honest creative front available. I do believe that part of my drive to make animals is tied up in the primitive need to possess them -- like effigies and totems. In my sculpture, I'm trying to create an image which traps a kind of animal truth. I strive to create work which reinvents animal form, enhancing the facts without being slavish to mere appearance." Born in Kent, England, Halls studied at the Medway College of Art and Design. She was awarded a scholarship by the Royal College of Art in London and graduated with distinction in 1990. After a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, she established her studio in London, exhibiting widely throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. She also became a visiting lecturer to many colleges and universities, including Royal College of Art, Central St. Martin's, Manchester Art School, the Cardiff Institute and Bath School of Art. Her work is represented in the collections of the Sackler Foundation, Victoria and Albert Museum, Royal College of Art, the Contemporary Art Society (London) and Stoke-on-Trent Museum.A resident of Easthampton, N.Y., she came to the United States in 1998 and has exhibited in galleries throughout the U.S. She is both a member of the Silvermine Guild of Artists and a faculty member of the Silvermine School of Art.
The new exhibition of works by Wheeler, "Time Like a River," consists of figurative, narrative oil paintings exploring mankind's relationship with the natural world. The paintings reflect the cyclical seasons and interconnectedness of events over time. The title refers to the artist's belief that events and relationships of today flow by us and become the past, while the events of the future inevitably flow towards us. In this onward rush of time, nothing ceases to exist but rather moves to a space that is less visible to the human eye.
A resident of Easton, Wheeler has exhibited in many galleries and museums, including the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Westport Arts Center (Connecticut), the New York Armory, the Rye Art Center, Monique Knowlton Gallery and the Kohn, Pederson Fox Gallery (New York). She has won many awards as an artist and was a visiting artist at Weir Farm National Historic Site. She has been a member of the Silvermine Guild of Artists since 1995, as well as a member of the board of trustees for the Silvermine Arts Center. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dickinson College and a Master of Arts degree from Goddard College. An art educator, she is an art teacher at Ridgefield Academy and has been the director of art programs and art education at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center.
In the ongoing celebration of the arts center's 90th year, the historical exhibition, "The Knockers Club: A Silvermine Beginning," will highlight selections of works from the founding members, such as Daniel Putnam Brinley, Solon Borglum, Berhard Gutmann, Howard L. Hildebrandt, Murray McKay, Addison Miller and Charles Rieffel.
The Silvermine Arts Center is located at 1037 Silvermine Road. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1to 5 p.m. For information, call 203-966-9700,Ext. 22, or visit www.silvermineaert.org.