GAIL GELBURD – THE ARTIST’S KOAN

Is the artist the work, is the work the artist, or is each element autonomous under its own power?

Previewing the environmentally focused Far Eastern oeuvre of artist, writer, critic, and educator Gail Gelburd an overriding riddle – in this case, koan – reveals itself with the impact of your first glimpse. You want to sit down with her and delve deeper. A studio visit is quickly arranged at her enclave in the Berkshires. First – a long look at the work.

The Ph.D. and Professor in the Art Department at Eastern Connecticut State University, is currently exhibiting both her installation series, Encased Memories and Public Art Piece, Unbound Presence at MS17 Art Project in New London – the highly innovative and progressively dynamic contemporary gallery focusing on social and environmental commentary and a myriad of global concerns.

There is a prelude to the exhibition gallery housed in the adjacent public space. The artist’s five semi-transparent 20 foot scrolls curtain the soaring atrium at MS17, boldly illustrating the dynamism and unpredictability of water with the raw power and varying ferocity of cascading waterfalls. This is an interactive experience: viewers stand beneath the panels­ – each an archival digital print on fabric embellished with encaustic (wax) medium; and in this place, feel the movement of water against nature. Standing amidst the boldness of the work, the effect is humbling…close your eyes and sense the chilling mist on your skin. Nature becomes bigger than you are, and there is a profound sense where Gelburd is going with this conversation……

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The Botanical Tyranny Parlor – Gallery Exhibition

The Bell Gallery at Ethel Walker School, 230 Bushy Hill Road, is exhibiting The Botanical Tyranny Parlor by installation artist Jane Rainwater. Nov. 14-Dec. 28th.

Gallery hours:  Dec.5-14 3:30-5:30pm; Dec 2 and Dec. 16 10:00am

The Botanical Tyranny Parlor engages the viewer with its seemingly innocent decorative delight; yet upon closer examination the work challenges and questions our attraction by revealing darker truths. Rainwater explores the hidden cost inherent in most of what we find seductively attractive The fabric design references classical nature illustration, Victorian silhouettes, wallpaper and prints as a critique of cultural history. A dark undercurrent of “cultural reckoning” informs this installation. In the tradition of botanical illustration, the silhouettes of seeming real plants and animals are in fact, carefully constructed from silhouettes of axes, scimitars, guns and grenades. Our measured gardens and cultivated civility are rooted in a history of violent conquest. While grenades may have replaced scimitars in our arsenals, the underlying theme remains. The beauty of our culture, like that all of those which preceded it, is but a mask for the ugliness of our own nature.

Botanical Tyranny Parlor at Bell

Windham Art Project Moves Outdoors

hc-rosary-solimanto-0413-20170406By Susan Dunne

Two years ago, the creative-placemaking project called My Windham had its inaugural event. Work by more than a dozen artists was installed outdoors and inside shops on Willimantic’s Main Street for five weeks in the spring. The second bi-annual event, renamed The Windham Project, will take place from April 15 to May 25 with a new focus: Nobody will have to go inside any shops to enjoy art.

“We surveyed our visitors and they liked it best when it’s all outdoors,” said Eastern Connecticut State University art Professor Gail Gelburd, organizer of the project. “It’ll all be outdoors or in storefront windows. It’ll be open all the time, 24-7.” The project — funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the town, the university and private donations —also has burst out of the borders of the state.

“We want to promote Windham all over as a place for art,” said Gelburd. So this year, along with 18 artists (or art-making teams) from Connecticut, there are two participants from New Jersey and one from Albany, N.Y.

And possibly one from India. Majunaath Naik’s work “Heart in a Jar” was juried into the exhibit, to be shown in the window of Jamaican Me Crazy restaurant. Naik planned to attend the opening reception, but he was denied a visa to travel to the United States from his home in Goa, India. His artwork may make it here in time, but there’s a chance it won’t.

Gelburd learned another thing from the first event: When everyone is inside at a reception, no one is outside looking at art. This year’s opening reception on April 20 is a “walking, progressive” event. Visitors can get a map, stroll the mile from Town Hall to Jillson Square, see the artwork, watch performance artists and get free snacks at Main Street businesses.

Melica Bloom of Willimantic — who helped create many of the murals in this mural-obsessed town — will create a new mural. Kenneth Saintonge of Windham will install a video “portal” from Willimantic to Denton, Texas, where he goes to school. People who stand in front of the portal can see the main drag in Denton, and people in Denton can see them.

Carolyn Naegeli Slead of Coventry will repurpose waste plastic into an artwork at the Hooker Hotel, which coincidentally is owned by Willimantic Waste. Tatiana Sougakova of New Jersey will repurpose old CDs to create “jewelry” for the trees to wear. ECSU’s Visual Arts Club will repurpose used shoes to create a found-object sculpture that comments on the wealth gap. It will be placed across the street from the homeless shelter. Anyone who needs a pair of shoes can grab a pair from the installation and keep it.

Other artists who will participate, working in projection, kinetic, sound, performance, murals and sculptures, include John Byrne of Hamden, Karen Davis of Vernon, Lauren Duke of Windham, ECSU professor Belinda Gabryl, Robert Greene of Ledyard, Sean Langlais of Norwich, sisters Amelia and Gretta Ingraham of Coventry, Steven Kroeger of Albany, N.Y.; Mark McKee of Ledyard, Jerry Montoya of Meriden, Chris Plaisted of Milford, Afarin Rahmanifar of Manchester, Rosary Solimanto of New Jersey, Jim Turner of Windham and Brennan Yau of Willington. The jurors were Migdalia Salas, Emily Handlin and Gelburd, who also will show her art.

THE WINDHAM PROJECT will take place along Main Street in Willimantic from the Windham Town Hall to Jillson Square, from April 15 to May 25. The opening reception is April 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. windhamproject.org.

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