By JAMES SALOMON July, 2019
When I closed my Chelsea gallery back in 2016, I was really down in the dumps. My friend, artist Richard Pasquarelli, took me out to lunch and invited me to his house in Bantam, CT for a little change of pace. Rudderless and adrift, I said yes. Maybe I could find something worthwhile to do up there. Anything.
Through Richard’s friends I found out about a former auto body shop (Vinnie’s, to be precise), renovated with community efforts to become a sharp looking art exhibition space. I wound up curating three shows there, meeting a cast of characters — and an audience — along the way. I’m grateful to the folks at Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens for those opportunities.
This weekend I am up for the Five Senses Festival, an enlightening program of art, song, dance, and spirituality amongst other things. “All the world’s a stage”, according to Shakespeare. In this case it’s artist Mark Mennin’s custom amphitheater (pictured above) as part of the hillside landscape.
I‘m discovering new characters, which never hurts. When I was a kid my mother would call me a social butterfly, which is a little embarrassing but happens to be true. I inherently like people, and feed off the energy of others.
These images were shot in chronological order from July 25-29 on an iPhone 6. Cropping and light adjustments were used when necessary. WM
On the way up I stopped to see Julie Gannon, an old friend from when I first moved to NYC in 1998. Back then, she was working for Peter MacGill and I for Arne Glimcher. That experience was short lived, but the friendship endured. She now raises her kids in Westport, CT, and is a respected art consultant in her community. She has a knack for spotting talent early on, as I have come to witness through the years.
Sao has a colorful and interesting life. Her career started in fashion, where she launched her eponymous haute couture line in the 80s and ran the Sao Store in Soho until 2015. These days she is painting abstractions out of her humble abode in Fairfield.
The dogs and kids get all the attention, that’s just how it is. Sam Funk took it in stride though, and was proud of his little girl, Wavy.
He’s got enough going on these days as a sculptor whose work is in numerous collections in the area.
Sam can dance, I learned.
Stone sculptor Mark Mennin, a die-hard hand carver, stares down a robot used to hollow out pieces for a new body of work. John Henry or Paul Bunyon comes to mind, not just because Mark has a physical stature not dissimilar, but he’s of the same mindset that if you’re gonna do it right you gotta do it yourself.
Mia Funk has no relation to Sam, we’ll start with that. She’s visiting from Paris, and I met her in Sag Harbor last winter while she was doing a residency at Eric Fischl and April Gornik’s new program. As part of her traveling exhibition called The Creative Process, she is interviewing artists and creative thinkers in the area.
Artist Lauren Booth hosted a plein air breakfast get-together, complete with Gamelatron by Aaron Taylor Kuffner. (A Gamelatron in short is a sound producing kinetic sculpture — I had to look that up).
I put her in front of a Brent Allen Spears (aka Shrine) mural to properly illustrate her explosive energy and ideas.
Chrissy Armstrong crushed it on Saturday night with her bossa nova performance at Five Senses. I was lucky enough to catch her with the band members before heading off to the gig.
Pictured with guitarist and bandleader Paul Armstrong, bass player Ray Martinez, percussionist Nestor Villar, and violinist Alí Bello.
“You talkin’ to me?”
Nobody tells Peter Kirkiles what he cannot do, especially on the night of his opening at Jeffery Tillou in Litchfield. Peter and I have worked together on various projects. He always gets it right.
I ran into photography dealer Kathy Root at the Five Senses silo where a Marilyn Minter video was being projected. She has a warm embrace from the community and puts on solid shows at her gallery space down the road.
Barry Blitt obliged to let me in his home... he made me coffee, I watched him spar with the President for a while, he took me to the cabin on his property where Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman, then kicked me out, good n’ proper!
“Immortality is like carving your initials on a block of ice in the middle of July” - Arthur Miller
Barry showed me something special in a corner of the concrete floor as an intense wave of energy came over me.
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time...”
Pilobolus’ Itamar Kubovy takes a break from it all with some Shakespearean lessons on life and ambition.
I finally got around to seeing Laura Neminski as she was winding down the Peter Wooster show in The Garage at Judy Black Memorial Parks and Gardens. Great space. Next up will be Catherine Erb from Memphis who works with Kathy Root/KMR.
Richard Pasquarelli makes these interesting and eerie “House at Night” paintings, where he’ll initially go to the residence and photograph it at twilight.
Is this about coming home to a beacon of safety and loving warmth inside? Is this an intruder’s perspective? A bear? A voyeuristic frog in the pond? That’s up to you.
Home is where his (he)art is. He’s not around this weekend but this pic is a tip of the hat to him.