September review of art in New Haven, Connecticut by Stephen Garrett Dewyer

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3 October 2009

Written by a former resident of Baltimore from 2005-’08, during which the writer attended MICA, the purpose of this text about art happening in New Haven, CT may interest both readers in Baltimore and New Haven. This text should trace a trajectory in which both Baltimore and New Haven have played different, yet metonymic parts in developing contemporary notions of aesthetics.

I am writing as (not exclusively) a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) student at the Yale School of Art’s sculpture program. To avoid writing as an “insider” about the “inside” from the “inside,” I plan on writing only about events that are already available to others beyond Yale. Such events should include and not exclusively: exhibitions, openings, performances, talks and interviews intended for dissemination. Disseminating writing about such events should result in an awareness of changes happening in art, and, in particular, art events relevant to New Haven and Baltimore.

New Haven

Puritan colonialists founded New Haven in 1638, although the Quinnipiac community inhabited the territory prior to such a founding. The colony of New Haven started what was then called the Collegiate School in 1701, which later became known as Yale University in 1728. The Yale School of Art began graduate studies in 1936.

According to the Population Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, New Haven County has an estimated population of 846,101 for the year 2008. The City of New Haven projects a population within the city limits as 128,970 for the year 2010.

There are a number of galleries in New Haven which include and not exclusively ArtSpace, the Yale University Art Gallery, the 32 Edgewood Avenue Gallery, the 36 Edgewood Avenue galleries and the 1156 Chapel Street galleries. Yale University and the Yale School of Art either run or affiliate with most of these galleries. Throughout the building of 36 Edgewood Avenue are a number of galleries in which sculpture M.F.A. students exhibit regularly. A gallery shared by all students of the Yale School of Art is located on the second floor of 36 Edgewood Avenue. This entry focuses on exhibitions and events happening at the Yale University Art Gallery, 1156 Chapel Street galleries, 36 Edgewood Avenue galleries and the 32 Edgewood Gallery.

The Yale University Art Gallery

The Yale University Art Gallery featured Stacks, 1990; re-sited 2006, (fig. 1) by Richard Serra besides the exhibition Time will Tell: Ethics and Choices in Conversation and some works from its permanent collection, including several by Louis Bourgeois.

Figure 1
Richard Serra
Stacks, 1990
Rolled steel, 93 x 96 x 10 in. (236.2 x 243.8 x 25.4 cm)

In Stacks, each of the rectangular slabs of rolled steel differ by 2.3 degrees from an imagined vertical axis, but run parallel, sixty feet apart from each other. According to the Yale University Art Gallery website,1 Richard Serra re-sited Stacks following the completion of renovations at the Startwout building in the Yale University Art Gallery in 2006. He relocated Stacks to the courtyard of the Kahn building. Upon visiting Stacks in the courtyard of the Yale University Art Gallery, it became apparent that a sea of concrete and bricks surrounds the two rectangular slabs of rolled steel. The two slabs of steel sink below the surface of the base of the courtyard.

1156 Chapel Street

About a block away from the Yale University Art Gallery and across the street, the 1156 Chapel Street galleries hosted the 2010 M.F.A. exhibition, featuring some returning M.F.A. students from the Yale School of Art.

In a project called Exile/Homeland/Return: 100 Postcards, 2009, (figs. 2 & 3) Naomi Safran-Hon posted a number of postcards on the gallery-front window. A postcard on a wall near the edge of the window read:

Between June 27, 1938 and September 1, 1939 my grandma wrote her family in Frankfurt am Berlin 100 letters. She fled Germany in 1938 to Palestine to escape Nazi Germany. A year later her parents and her two brothers were reunited in Tel-Aviv. My Grandma has nothing left from that time except the memory of sending 100 letters. While traveling back to Germany this summer, in homage to her, I sent my family in Haifa 100 postcards.

The postcards in the window had drawings and diagrams, presumably, by Naomi.

Figures 2 & 3
Naomi Safran-Hon
Exile/Homeland/Return: 100 Postcards, 2009

A house-plant placed on the top-right or left (depending on the vantage) of a shelf locates in the near-center of the gallery facing the street in 1156 Chapel Street (fig. 4). The artist, Miles Huston works with refuge and other found materials.

Figure 4
Miles Huston

In the same gallery as Miles’s project lies a project by Alex Da Corte in which a cartoon-pirate turned homeless man sprawls on the floor, with many phallus-like appendages (fig. 5). Alex used soft-drinks for the spills, which harden over time. The event is made to appear still. It has a mix of imagery that is not necessarily always associated with homelessness.

Figure 5
Alex Da Corte

Noel Anderson colored reproductions of a page from a coloring book with crayons and gave captions (fig. 6). Below the coloring book pages, Noel gives photos of a performance in which he dresses in drag to mimic the character in the coloring book page.

Figure 6
Noel Anderson

In TITLE REDACTED/skinny dip, 2009, (fig. 7) Peter Harkawik placed a yellow foam ball on the end of a stick stuck in a gallery wall. The shadow seems as interesting as the projectile.

Figure 7
Peter Harkawik
TITLE REDACTED/skinny dip, 2009

On a pedestal in a ground-level gallery at 1156 Chapel Street, Sam Anderson’s project (fig. 8) appears on what looks like a light-box or an ice tray. The project appears reminiscent of toys that may be found in some pediatric doctors’ offices.

Figure 8
Sam Anderson

The exhibition featured works without titles given. Instead, name-tags read the artists’ names and respective departments. This made it difficult to tell whose work belonged to whom (titles often correlate with their respective title-holder). A few emails were required to learn some titles.

36 Edgewood Avenue

Figure 9

Image of 36 Edgewood Avenue

Sculpture studios locate throughout the 3rd and 4th floors of 36 Edgewood Avenue (fig. 9). Galleries can be found throughout the building in rooms and hallways. Nate Heiges painted gold two cracks in the concrete flooring of one of the 4th floor stairwells (fig. 10).

Figure 10
Nate Heiges

The writer completed two projects within 36 Edgewood Avenue: (1) Crack-opening: attempting to connect two points using 145, 2009, (fig. 11) and (2) Filter blinding filter, 2009 (fig. 12).

Figure 11
Stephen Dewyer
Crack-opening: attempting to connect two points using 145 cracks, 2009

Crack-opening: attempting to connect two points using 145 cracks is a site-responsive event/installation that connects the ends in images of various cracks within the concrete flooring of 36 Edgewood Avenue to two arbitrary points at opposing ends of each frame. The result is a number of tracings of different cracks meeting at opposing ends. The photograph(s) align(s) the opposing ends of the cracks along an imagined axis that divides each frame in two.

Figure 12
Stephen Dewyer
Filter blinding filter, 2009

Filter blinding filter, 2009, is a site-responsive installation/event in which one filter blinds another filter and blinds also filter. Filter blinding filter focuses on the relation of labor to a location, in this case, studio 407 at 36 Edgewood Avenue.

In Filter blinding filter, projectors stream images of the artist washing the windows behind the blinds onto the blinds. Each recording of a window washing projects in what would be the frame of the said window, projecting onto, instead, the drawn blinds. Recordings of the sound from each window washing come from different computer speakers while a cluster of wiring pools onto the floor.

32 Edgewood Avenue Gallery

32 Edgewood Avenue Gallery hosted the exhibition Infinitesimal Eternity: Images Made in the Face of Spectacle. A catalog of the exhibition can be found online at Several Yale M.F.A. students, faculty and alumni participated in the making of the exhibition. Figure 13.

Image of 32 Edgewood Avenue Gallery
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