January 12 - February 5, 2022
Opening Reception on Saturday, January 15th from 4-7PM
Art Essex Gallery
166 Main Street, Westport CT
Juried by NYC art critic and writer David Masello
In curating this Art Essex show, I spent a lot of time with people I don’t know and have never met. And yet, I know much about each of them from looking at just two or three of their artworks.
I learned immediately about their passions, their obsessions, fixations, their sense of what they find important in the world. I see what it is they continue to observe and convey to themselves and then to us, the viewers of their art. What a wonderful way to meet people. I like these people already.
Many artists, no matter what their chosen medium (or does the medium find the artist?), continue to explore the same topic repeatedly, sometimes indefinitely or until they have exhausted their inner call do so. They keep visiting their favorite subject because their curiosity is often insatiable, and with each encounter, they find something new. Maybe that’s one definition of being an artist: always discovering something new in the familiar.
In helping to configure this Art Essex landmark show at the George Billis Gallery, I was moved by the passions these artists have for very particular moments in life—the ripple of water in swimming pools, the way telephone wires stretch across the sky, the curl and break of ocean waves, the glow of neon lights in the dark, the profile of buildings in the cityscape. For me, having to choose to not include an artist in the show is akin to the idea of my rubbing paint into a wound, along with some salt, for every artist who submitted work for this show is a real artist, with talent and passion and originality. For a large palette of reasons, these 34 artists were selected for the way their works interact and make for an especially cohesive group show.
And something else I discovered while judging the works is that there were many overt references, both in the artworks and in the artists’ statements, about the life they, and we, have all led during the pandemic. It changed our lives and, thus, art as a whole. If we were able to, hopefully, put aside the attendant anxiety and illness that enveloped us, our time alone allowed for a closer observation and concentration. Many of these works were completed during the pandemic’s most isolating months, yet here is proof, again, that art prevails. In deprivation and enforced solitude, what results is beauty, passion, form. Many of these works are the response to the life lived during the pandemic.
Another revelation that strikes me every time I help assemble a show is that creative expression is, truly, infinite. Every single real artist has his or her own vision. That may seem impossible, but it’s the reality of art. Every act of creation is unique. Just as is every person. Let’s meet each other in this show, on the walls and in person.
Sally Giddings Smith
Lisa Parker Hyatt
Ann Parks McCray
Antonia Tyz Peeples