Kevin Thomas — New Work

September 25, 2009 by

I was in Kevin Thomas’ studio today and was so pleased to see his new work.  I took some snaps of the pots he recently finished which are waiting to be fired.

Join Us for ART in the Yard Art Show and Sale

September 20, 2009 by

AITY-Flyer

Renee Kahn article in Fairfield County Weekly

July 9, 2009 by

A Full View of Renee Kahn

The Stamford teacher/activist/artist finally merges all of her personas in a retrospective exhibit

BReneey William Squier

 

“Should I put on some make-up?” asks artist/advocate Renee Kahn during a publicity shoot for her upcoming gallery show at the Loft Artist Association in Stamford. Kahn poses the question, but you get the impression she’d much rather start a fresh canvas than spend time painting her face.
“I had pictures taken a few years ago,” says Kahn. “The photographer Photoshopped them. My teeth suddenly became bright white, all my brown spots and rosacea disappeared and he airbrushed me into not me.” All it takes is bit of mild reassurance from her current photog, John Martin, and any thought of a “touch-up” is abandoned as she returns to chatting about her life and art.
Renee Kahn is perhaps most familiar as the outspoken director of Stamford’s Historic Neighborhood Preservation Program, an organization that has been defending the city’s architecturally significant buildings for the last 31 years. Several generations of college students also know Kahn for her 20-plus years teaching the history of modern art at UConn’s Stamford campus. She is, arguably, least recognized for her efforts as a visual artist — a fact that fellow LAA members Sandy Garnett and Lina Morielli have set out to correct by curating an exhibit of Kahn’s selected works that opens July 10.
To assemble the show, Garnett and Morielli prowled through Kahn’s cluttered North Stamford studio and a low-ceilinged attic storage area, an experience the artist describes as a “near-death experience.” The art they unearthed was created using a variety of media, including charcoal, black ink, thinned paint, watercolor crayon and photo collage, on canvas, corrugated cardboard and brown wrapping paper. But, the subject matter of the pieces is remarkably consistent, revealing Kahn to be a puckish social satirist with an affectionate interest in the idiosyncrasies of the suburban scene.
The surprise for Kahn in reviewing her output as an artist has been to see just how often the rest her life, as an activist, teacher or historian, has crept onto her canvases. “I’ve always assumed they were separate departments,” she marvels, while rifling through a stack of paintings. “But, I’m not as divided as I thought.”
For example, Kahn’s three-decade-long crusade to preserve Stamford’s inner-city neighborhoods spawned a number of specific works. On permanent display at the city’s Tully Health Center is wall-sized shadowbox that populates a photo collage of vanished streetscapes with pen and ink pedestrians, rendered by Kahn in all their rumpled and wrinkled glory. “I like urban characters,” she says. “I sketch from memory. I get into a kind of Zen state, start to draw and people appear. It’s very interesting to see who turns up.”
Kahn’s many trips to Stamford’s Government Center to testify before one group of bureaucrats or another inspired a portfolio of make-believe mayors that spoofs the lineup of official portraits you pass as you enter the building. “I also have their wives and little dossiers on them,” she adds. Attending a zoning board meeting led to an ambitious series of six- and seven-foot-tall, freestanding corrugated cardboard cutouts of Runyan-esque figures — one of them the spitting image of Bernard Madoff, with his double-breasted suit, styled white coif and Mona Lisa smile all in place.
“I was at the hearing and in comes one of the area’s more famous developers with his entourage,” Kahn recalls. “My husband said, ‘Who are these characters? They look like gangsters.’ I suddenly saw that they have alter egos. They go to Princeton and collect Piranesi prints. But, cross them and they become monsters.” Out of that experience, Kahn was moved to not only paint her Madoff look-alike, but his wife, sons, accountants, bankers, bodyguards and mother-in-law. “And he’s got twin lawyers,” she adds. “One’s from Harvard and one’s from Yale.”
Kahn traces her interest in art back to studying at the High School of Music and Art in New York City. For the lonely teenager, painting was as much a means of connecting with other people as it was of expressing herself. “My husband, who was a clinical psychologist, would say to me, ‘Only an only child would turn out all these paintings,'” she recalls. “And I’d say, ‘Well, I wanted company!'”
Rather than pursue a career as an artist, however, she turned at first to teaching. After graduating from City College and doing post-graduate work at Columbia University, Kahn spent seven long years toiling in the South Bronx. She jokes that she was traumatized by the New York Public School system. “I swore that I’d go on welfare before I’d go back,” she admits. What it taught her, however, was the value of a sense of humor. “I had to be good on my feet to keep their attention,” she says. “I was basically doing stand-up comedy.”
Kahn married and gladly abandoned the kids in the classroom to raise children of her own, painting whenever she had the chance. She also put her degree from Columbia’s School of Architecture and Planning to use by offering her services to the Stamford Community Development Office and other local non-profits like the Land Use Boards and the Downtown Special Services District as a consultant on historic preservation.
While she was busy advocating for the city’s neighborhoods to be kept intact, Kahn discovered that the two sides of her nature were not mutually exclusive. “When you’re a preservationist, you suffer so many losses,” she explains. “If I didn’t have an outlet like my artwork, I would have quit years ago. I can control what’s on the canvas, whereas I have no control over the outcome of most of my preservation work.”
When Kahn returned to the academic world, she focused on teaching art history at the college level and she found that it also fed her creative side. “You spend every day with the best work ever done,” she says. “So, your eye gets sharper.”
Posed for a photograph in front of a sprawling depiction of Curley’s Diner in Stamford, that’s pinned to her studio’s wall, Kahn’s eyes travel across the faces that crowd the painting. “I love them flawed,” she insists. “Ten percent of people look pretty. Ninety percent look real. And real life looks more like Curley’s.” Even so, between shots she glances at the digital image on the camera and sighs, “I knew I should have put on some make-up.” Seconds later, she shrugs and it’s forgotten.

Working Studios Spring 09

June 29, 2009 by
Susan McCaslin with guests at WS 09

Susan McCaslin with guests at WS 09Working Studios 09 was tons of fun. Here's Susan McCaslin in her studio with guests working on her Leatherman project.Cate getting ready for WS

Dana Scinto at Warehouse 161

June 6, 2009 by

Warehouse 161 on Springs Fireplace Road will exhibit “Art Work in Resin by Dana Scinto” from Saturday, May 23 through July 1.

When you are in East Hampton, be sure to stop by. For info call 631-324-0555.

Loft Artists at the Mansion!

June 4, 2009 by

Loft artists at the Mansion artLoft Artists Exhibit at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
June 11 – September 9, 2009

LOCKWOOD-MATHEWS MANSION MUSEUM
295 West Avenue, NORWALK CT
203-838-9799

Join us for the
Opening Reception:
Thursday, June 11, 6-8pm

Go to Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum for details.

The Loft Artists are coming to the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, CT and the contrast between the bare bones industrial building at 845 Canal St that currently houses the Loft Artists and the rooms presently set aside at the for exhibits at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion could not be more dramatic.

With parquet floors, elaborate woodwork and painted ceilings, the mansion represents mid-19th century elegance at its highest, and provides a striking contrast to the twenty-first century art work shown by the Loft Artists on the gallery’s walls.

Included in the exhibit will be paintings and drawings by artists from Stamford, Greenwich, Norwalk, Wilton, Fairfield and Bridgeport. Among the exhibitors are: Pamela Riley Abear, Nikki Bates, Elaine Best, Shirley Binin, Angela Burns, Francine Funke, Alan Judelson, Renee Kahn, Clair Koch, Judith Lambertson, Cate Leach, Mary Louise Long, Susan McCaslin, Lina Morielli, Wendi Ohlson, Jane Petruska, Tina Rohrer, Alissa Siegal, Dana Scinto, Maura Shapiro, Liz Squillace, Kevin Thomas, Margaret Tsirantonakis, & Diane Weeks.

Happy Artists at a Happy Opening

May 7, 2009 by

Happy Artists!!

Happy Artists!!

Claire, John and Wendi having a great evening at the UNconventional Portrait Show. They are standing in front of Claire’s painting on the left and John’s on the right. Amazing likenesses, don’t you think?

Opening Reception for ‘Loud & Clear: Art Provides A Voice’

May 7, 2009 by

Join us for the Opening Reception on Thursday, May 7 from 6 to 9pm.

Kids in Crisis, opening reception May 7th

Kids in Crisis, opening reception May 7th

“Loud & Clear:  Art Provides A Voice,” an exhibit of the artwork of the teen residents of the temporary shelter at Kids in Crisis.  The exhibit, which will be open to the public May 7 – May 17, 2009, will showcase the teens’ work created through the Kids in Crisis therapeutic art program.The art therapy program is conducted in partnership with Open Art Studio, NYC, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to offering participants of all ages and backgrounds a creative outlet to foster individual choices and to provide a safe space for personal transformation.

“Loud & Clear:  Art Provides A Voice” will feature dozens of different pieces by the Fairfield County children impacted by abuse, neglect and severe family conflict who seek refuge at the comprehensive Kids in Crisis campus in Cos Cob.  While children are temporarily in residence at Kids in Crisis, they receive a full spectrum of support – medical, educational, and therapeutic care, including the innovative program directed by Open Art Studio and generously supported by an anonymous private donor.

Open Art Studio, NYC recognizes the uniqueness of each individual’s psychological, spiritual and emotional needs.  Participants are exposed to an artistic process that can serve as an emotional outlet and as a means of self expression.  “Creating art offers the comfort of touch, the freedom of expression, the reduction of stress and the opportunity to exercise control,” said Mandy Weil, founder and director of Open Art Studio.  “The introduction of art materials and activities fosters individualchoices that help build self-esteem, a vital element of the care and support provided to the residents of Kids in Crisis.”

The mission of each of the two art organizations is closely aligned.  “The Loft Artists Association (LAA) is comprised of a group of men and women who, almost more than anything else, passionately believe in the power of art,” said Alissa Siegal, President of the LAA.  “Art as a declaration of one’s self, as a way to connect with those you have never and may never meet, art as able to express what words cannot.  This life giving and life sustaining act of expression becomes more deeply meaningful when shared with others.  The LAA is honored to display the work of the youth of KIC, and completely excited to partner with these children to make art.  This act of joint creation and self expression brings empowerment to all involved.”

The new relationship between Kids in Crisis and the LAA is a powerful one.  In addition to hosting “Loud & Clear:  Art Provides A Voice,“ members of the LAA will begin working individually this month with Kids in Crisis residents to provide an additional opportunity to experience different artistic techniques and styles and offer the chance to create new pieces amidst the LAA environment.  The LAA studios and gallery have been located in a warehouse in the South End of Stamford for the past 25 years.

“Giving our children the ability to see their work prominently displayed, to acknowledge the hard work they put forth in healing themselves and their lives is a meaningful gift,” said Shari Shapiro, Executive Director of Kids in Crisis.  “We are most appreciative of the support provided by the Loft Artists Association and the attention and care they are providing to families and children in crisis.”

Francine Funke at Contemporary Printmaking

May 7, 2009 by

Francine Funke has been chosen to exhibit two works from her “Mechanical Botanical” Series in the 7th Biennial International Miniature Print Competition.

The distinguished jurors were Lisa Hodermarsky, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photography, Yale University and Craig Zammiello, Master Intaglio Printer.

The exhibition will be held at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Mathews Park,
299 West Avenue in Norwalk Connecticut from May 28th – August 15, 2009.
The Opening Reception is Thursday, May 28th from 4-7 PM.

Judith Lambertson “Best in Show”

May 7, 2009 by

Judith Lambertson’s “After the Rain” receives “Best in Show
Judith Lambertson‘s “After the Rain” oil on linen received Best in Show in Spectrum 2009  juried art exhibition ( May 3-June 7,  Carriage Barn Arts Center, Waveny Park, New Canaan, CT)
Juror Barbara Grossman “The painting is structurally beautiful with it’s hot and cool temperatures and the very subtle difference in values. You have a sense of place and the deep and shallow space creates an exciting tension.”

“View from Ledge Road” in permanent collection
“View from Ledge Road” oil on paper has entered the permanent collection of the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Mass and will be exhibited in “Woman Artists” in the collection of the Cape Ann Museum, October 24, 2009- January 31, 2010 .”


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