The coronavirus pandemic is a time when most Americans need their spirits lifted. Open Studio Hartford is here to help. The annual extravaganza of artists opening up their workspaces to meet art lovers and sell their works is going virtual this year.
There aren’t as many artists as in previous years, but at the same time, there are no crowds to walk through to see the art. Artists are going up on the openstudiohartford.com site one by one, and Cynthia Bulaong, who produces the event through Artists in Real Time, said about 80 artists total will sell their items.
Bulaong said turning the live event into a virtual event was necessary but nonetheless disappointing, as artists enjoy the face-to-face interaction with the customers who love their work enough to buy it. She added, though, that the pandemic-friendly format has created an opportunity, because virtual events don’t have to end after the traditional two-weekend run.
“I’ll keep these artists live through January and we’ll learn how to promote online visibility and sales,” Bulaong said.
At openstudiohartford.com, shoppers can browse selections of each artist’s inventory. If they like the style and subject matter, they can click to official websites to see more, chat with the artist and buy.
Here are some of the artists showing their work.
South Windsor photographer Doug Hockman creates natural scenes and long-exposure abstract photos inspired by water, the beach and weather. That weather focus often takes the form of still lifes that show unique perspectives on common sights, such as a photo of a herd of Holstein cows under an ominous-looking sky. The title, “I Heard Thunder,” is humorous, as the lead cow stares at the camera with a neutral look, as if expecting the photographer to respond to his concern about the weather.
Hartford artist Nancy Doherty is a graduate of Hartford Art School and is a teaching artist at Wadsworth Atheneum and Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. She uses mixed media, impressions of her previous travels and intuition to create abstracted musings on traditional ideas of landscapes. “Memory, travel, and lost loved ones are important themes that are intertwined among these abstracted shapes. I try to capture that hidden place between life and whatever’s after,” Doherty said.
Kelly Taylor of Glastonbury is inspired by nature. She doesn’t want to present a naturalistic of landscapes and seascapes, but an abstracted one, using acrylic pastes, gels, paints, painted papers, photographs and photo transfers. “I do not want to provide an entire picture. I believe my work provides an opening for the viewer to create their own interpretation. By using elements such as color, shape, line and texture, my hope is to engage the viewer in completing their own picture,” Taylor said.
Alan Kendzior of Enfield was a wedding photographer for 20 years, then he worked in IT. When he retired three years ago, he combined his passions, creating computer-enhanced photographs. Instead of weddings, he focuses on a different kind of finery and majesty: birds and landscapes, such as waterfalls, sunsets, ocean views. Then Kendzior manipulates the images digitally to create the color and intensity he wants. “The digital world lets me continue to create after I capture the initial image,” he said.
Sue Nooney’s business, “All That Sparkles,” is based at Farmington Valley Arts Center in Avon. Nooney works with sterling silver to create unique jewelry pieces. Since the coronavirus pandemic put her on lockdown at her home in Unionville, Nooney has been working on a new project: bracelets depicting little rows of Brooklyn brownstones. “Each 20-inch x 1/4 u00bd -inch” section of the cityscape hinged bracelet is a building with doors, windows, stairs, a firescape here and there and some gemstones,” Nooney said.
Lori Racicot of West Simsbury is inspired by walking in the woods, on beaches, through farm fields, by rivers and up mountains, in Connecticut and, in past travels, other states. Racicot paints and draws flora, fauna, regionally distinctive structures, such as the Monhegan Light lighthouse in Maine. She also shares her emotions through paintings “based on my personal experiences dealing with anxiety … working with and/or caring for family members with Alzheimer’s … or living during COVID-19,” she said.
Lisa Hesselgraves is participating in Open Studio Hartford for the first time. Her participation illustrates one major advantage to the virtual format: Artists statewide, not just from Hartford, can participate. The Branford artist describes her work: “Mostly wooded and often dark, the places my figures inhabit are generated from memory and imagination. Reflecting on the Germanic fairy tales of my childhood and mixing it with a dose of my current life in a semi-wooded area of Connecticut, I’ve reimagined characters and situations from a grown-up perspective.”
Cathy Chong of Avon sees nature and spirituality as one and the same. “My paintings are meditative visions of the radiant source of energy expressed through color and shape. Whether in landscapes or abstractions, the essential theme is joy and wholeness,” Chong writes in her statement. In intense blue and rose, Chong creates visions of sky, clouds and crescent moons, adding depth by using layers of geometrical shapes. She often urges viewers to look at them with 3D glasses, to enhance the layers.
Neil Lefebvre loves Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist and other pop artists from the ’60s. His work also draws on popular culture with images of Halloween masks, board games, LPs, bubble gum, beauty queens, TV dinners, matchbooks, neon signs and, of course, Marilyn Monroe. “I’m nostalgic for old town Main Streets, too, the motels, the old brick storefronts, the people, the feel, retro Americana that disappears a little more everyday,” said Lefebvre, of West Hartford.
What does Kimberley Scobie love? Just look at her paintings. Cats, dogs, little boats, beautiful food, sun-dapples rows of mugs in a kitchen. “I paint subjects that throughout my life have brought me happiness. That is one reason I paint so many water-ocean scenes,” Scobie said. “Who doesn’t like an adoring pet? My pet portraits always try to capture the pet’s personality.” Scobie has participated in Open Studios for years, from her studio at 30 Arbor St. in Harford. She is now based at her home in West Hartford.
Artists will be added daily, so every day there are new artworks to see at openstudiohartford.com.
Other participating are 10-ton goldfish designs, 3rd Eye Studios LLC, A.D. Bloom, Amanda Surveski, Andres Chaparro, Angela Shenk, B. Rossitto, Barbara Hocker, Bill Katz, Carlene Buchanan, Carol E. Bower, Ceil Rossi, Ceramic Shenanigans, Chet Kempczynski, Chris Figat, Christine Chaise Greenwood, Dana Herbert, David Elliott, Denise Balcanoff, Designs by Jackii, Diane Cadrain, EAMARTWORK, Elle Fagan, Esmeralda, Federico Balducci, Fine Art at Laurel Wreath Farm, Frances R. Drew, Francie Fillatti, Freestone Forge, Gary Jacobs, Gay Schempp, Gig Lavery, Grace Epstein, Gray Matter, Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti, Haiti’s Back Porch, Hartford Art School students, Hartford Artisans Weaving Center, Hartford Prints!, Heather Delaney, Holly Spencer, JaimeLeeArt, Jeff Holcombe, Joan Brault, Joan Pollak, John Tyner, Joseph R. Gorneault Jr., Kayla Farrell, Kimberly Heil, Lafalce-Freshler Fine Art, Lanny Nagler, Lisa Joslyn, LMNT Jewelry, Lori Barker, Lorna Morris Cyr, Mary B Wolff, Mateo Velasquez Lopez, Matt Ryan, MD Robertson, Melrose Denim, Meredith Arcari Luciano, Nancy Delahaye, New England Ballet Theatre, Nigel Wynter, Normand Charlette, Pamela Vitale, Paws That Draw, Rescue Dog Art, Peter Greenwood, Philitha Stemplys-Cowdrey, Renee Hughes, Robert Faucher, Robert Fort, Robert Zott, Sacred Space Malas, Sally Stamos, Sarah Rose, Sehrish Khan, Spirited Touch Designs, Studio Mari, Suzan Scott, Suzanne Levy, Tanger Studio, Terese Maineri de Velasquez, The Beekeeper’s Basket, V. Bruno and Whimsy and Enchantment Art.
Susan Dunne can be reached at email@example.com.
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