Passion for Art

The rich history of Connecticut

9 OCTOBER 2016,
Childe Hassam - Bowl of goldfish
Childe Hassam - Bowl of goldfish

Connecticut has a long history in the Visual Arts that may have begun when artists from New York would come to escape the heat of the summer. Its proximity to New York gave Connecticut an edge over other destinations. The American Impressionists J. Alden Weir and Childe Hassam made Connecticut their part-time home. J. Alden Weir benefited from his wife’s family wealth and this permitted him to create a summer oasis and a place to paint. Childe Hassam spent his time at art colonies in Cos Cob and Old Lyme, Connecticut. Contemporary artists such as Alexander Calder had his home in Roxbury, Sol de Witt was from Hartford, and living legend Jasper Johns now resides in Litchfield County.

I would like to bring to your attention here four more Artists who are either from Connecticut or who have adopted it as their home:

Cameron Schmitz - an abstract artist powered by her passionate hardworking work ethos

Justin Kim, whose colorful landscape paintings are an evocative composite snapshot view of contemporary life.

Lori Glavin who takes an intuitive approach in her Art making.

David Dunlop, whose Art benefits from his limitless knowledge of Art History and neuroscience.

“Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us show up and get to work.” Chuck Close

Cameron Schmitz is originally from Greenwich and Stamford. She earned her Masters at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and her undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire. After completing her studies, she was an artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center. She juggles multiple careers: painting, curating and art instruction. She is the poster child of a good work ethic and yet isn’t hard-nosed. Growing up surrounded by her mother’s Art work had a profound impact on her interest in Art. Later, her own children would become her muses. Specially, after the birth of her first child Winslow, she moved from landscape and figurative painting to the non-objective. She is influenced by the rustic natural beauty of Vermont. She is now residing in a charming 1829 farm house in Massachusetts near the Vermont border.

Cameron is curator and exhibition coordinator at the Drawing Room Gallery, Greenwich, Connecticut. Prior to this she worked in a color lab at a textile design company that produced wallpaper. Initially, it seemed like an ideal position yet its literally toxic environment with the materials they were working with made her realize that it wasn’t the best solution. Fortunately, around the same time, the opportunity to work at the gallery came up. She works as liaison between artist and gallery and vice versa. She sees herself as an artist’s advocate. Her own paintings are colorful. Her mark making reminded me of the sky in a different dimension where clouds are made up of pillowing colorful graffiti. I had mentioned this in my visit to her studio and she found it interesting as she had an entire series devoted to text. So here too, text followed the transition from objective to abstract. Her paintings feel at once ethereal and grounding. She has shown her Art throughout the States - most notably in the New England region – and as far away as Japan.

Justin Kim is originally from Hartford, Connecticut. He earned his Masters of Fine Art at the American University, Washington, DC and his undergraduate degree at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut. He paints in large scale on paper in a mixed media. His colorful contemporary landscape paintings are reminiscent of David Hockney - whom he had a chance to work with early in his career, yet his work is distinctively his own. I heard Justin speak at Artist’s Talk that was held at the Drawing Room Gallery that was coordinated by Cameron Schmitz. Some of his paintings are diptychs, and one can see the work of his hand which is almost imperceptible viewing online. His paintings have an edgy illustrative feel to them. He knows how to do just enough without overworking his hand. Artist Talks are a not only a great opportunity to get to know the artist - they also offer the social connection - a quality I enjoy since I spend so much time behind the computer screen. At the talk he shared his some of his experiences while in an artist in residence program in the dunes of Provincetown, Massachusetts. The conditions there are very basic: there was no running water inside, but a water pump on the outside. He shared humorous stories with the group attending the talk that evening. - One that is fresh in mind is where a fellow artist at the residency scrimped for two weeks without using the water pump until she asked Justin how to work it. No one was quite sure how she managed without water for a couple of weeks. He splits his time out West and on the East Coast depending where he is teaching or where his work as Artist in residence takes him. He has taught at Smith College, Northampton, MA, Deep Springs College, Deep Springs California, Yale, New Haven, Connecticut, and Dartmouth College, Hannover, New Hampshire.

Studio visits are a thrilling experience: the Art, the artists, the studio, their organization, the tools they use, the scraps of oil paint stacked in such a way it sometimes resembles an art work in itself, paint brushes standing up out jars like flowers in a vase, the smell of oil paints, and the drips and splashes of paint on the floor. I’m fascinated by artists, their lives, and how they go about making Art a livelihood.

“The paintings are spontaneous and intuitive; I work without a plan and embrace the happy accident.” Lori Glavin

Lori Glavin works from her studio in Norwalk, Connecticut. She is a graduate of Syracuse. She studied privately with artists such as Constance Kiermaier. Lori specializes in Abstract painting, collage, and printmaking. Prior to working as an artist, she had a successful career in publishing. Her paintings are colorful abstracts - paintings as an abstract aerial view of a beautiful garden. I appreciate the experimental quality of viewing her Art. She draws from the visual clatter of the familiar in her life - from its domestic environments or the landscape of her weekend home. Her paintings are akin to a refreshing pause from the harrowing speed of the world. Her collages are truly unique as she incorporates sewing into her mark-making. Lori advises aspiring artists to ignore their inner critic and to try to work without inner judgments.

“It isn’t the information it is the delivery” David Dunlop

Perhaps you heard of David Dunlop from his series with PBS “Landscapes Through Time.” David is an award winning landscape painter who has exhibited internationally. He is a graduate of the College of Wooster, in Wooster Ohio. His paintings are collected by savvy individuals and in collections of major companies alike. David’s Wilton studio looks out onto the luscious greenery. He aptly puts his knowledge of art history and neuroscience to use in creating dynamic paintings that utilize techniques from Da Vinci, Turner and Cezanne in a relevant way for the Twenty-First century. Listening to David speak about Art History and neuroscience made me feel as if I was at a TED Talk. He has a fresh take on the familiar cityscapes such as New York’s Grand Central Station. His paintings work in multiple lighting conditions which is an asset to any art collector. They stay alive and don’t die as the light shifts from day to evening.

Connecticut is now more than ever an easier commute from New York by train or car and it is still filled with pastoral charm. You can visit and learn more about American Impressionism at the Bush-Holley House in Cos Cob, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, and at Weir Farm - J. Alden Weir’s summer residence in Wilton. I think you will enjoy exploring the rich history of Connecticut Art past and present as much as I have residing here for many years.

Florence Griswold Museum https://florencegriswoldmuseum.org

Greenwich Historical Society http://www.hstg.org

Weir Farm National Historic Site https://www.nps.gov/wefa/index.htm

The Drawing Room Gallery http://www.thedrawingroomhome.com/art-gallery-photos/