Telegram and Gazette - Arts Section
Worcester springs forward with ‘Cultivated: A Garden Art Show’
This article appeared in the
Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Friday - January 11th 2008.
ARTSWorcester springs forward with ‘Cultivated: A Garden Art Show’
Susan Lozoraitis’ best summer dress isn’t hanging in her closet. It’s up on the wall at ARTSWorcester.
In a work titled “Spring Apparel,” Lozoraitis created a dress-as-canvas piece by slathering a graceful frock with a stiffening agent, mounting it on a large canvas, then painting flowers on it.
Her inspiration? We could say she didn’t let an art student’s tight budget hem her in.
“As a graduate art student, I didn’t have a lot of money to purchase canvas,” said Lozoraitis, who graduated from Western Connecticut State University in May with a master of fine arts degree. “As an individual, I need to see evidence of the living green world everywhere as a reminder of all that nature provides for our lives. Then, I thought about how gowns are probably worn once and then sit in the closet. The result of putting these ideas together was an ecological vision, “Spring Apparel,” created from recycled clothing.”
The striking piece is among 100 spring-infused works in a new show at ARTSWorcester, which opens today and runs through Feb. 7. Called “Cultivated: A Garden Art Show,” the exhibition aims to revive the flagging spirits of the winter weary among us through a profusion of blooming images. Forty-eight artists contributed pieces, answering a call put out by ARTSWorcester for works representing a botanical break from winter.
“We sent a call out to members and beyond asking for their image of what spring is like in New England,” Jan Seymour, ARTSWorcester executive director, said. “We got a wonderful response —from this incredible whimsy of a 6-foot-high painted dress that evokes a dress blowing in the breeze on a summer’s day to all kinds of media, a lot of collages, a lot of photographs, oil paintings, watercolors, abstract, realism —it’s everyone’s different interpretation and we’ve been thoroughly charmed.”
Flowers are the dominant theme and they enliven the gallery’s white walls with a blaze of summery color. It is a spirit-boosting effect ARTSWorcester had hoped for when the group scheduled the show for the dead of winter.
“January is so sort of nothing, post holidays, everybody’s kind of looking around at each other,” said Brigitta Clementi of Princeton, chairman of ARTSWorcester’s board of directors. “So it’s good to see something bright and just fun with no great message — just nice.”
Of course the image they had in mind back when they planned things was the blowing snow and chill winds of a typical January.
“We wanted to have a moment of warmth and spring in January and who knew we were going to have a January thaw and a heat wave of 60 degrees?” Seymour said, as the show was being hung earlier this week. (Not to worry. Winter weather most likely will return before the show closes Feb. 7.)
In the meantime, ARTSWorcester’s gallery at the Aurora is filled with flora. The blossom motif presented special challenges for freelance installer Tim Johnson, whose job it was to hang the pieces in a cohesive fashion.
“I never installed a show with one theme like this — just flowers,” he said. “I was expecting it to be easier than it was but it was like any other show: Colors have to work off each other. The pieces have to work off each other because they are all very individual even though it’s all flower and garden related.”
Among exhibitors are artist couple Stephen and Tasha Halpert of Grafton. He does collages while she is a photographer.
Stephen Halpert submitted three pieces from what he calls his van Gogh series, which draws from imagery used by the famous post Impressionist painter.
Several iconic images could be picked out from a garden-like scene of one of Halpert’s intricately layered collages.
“It gives it a dimensional sense,” he said of the layering technique. “It takes it into another dimension rather than keeping it flat.”
Tasha Halpert also strives for a sense of dimensionality. “What I try to do is create an abstract from a concrete view,’ she said, standing in front of a photo with a floral burst in the foreground and a misty woods behind.
“You’re just drawn into it. You start out with something right up front and real here but then it becomes misty and mysterious and off you go.”
Another of her photographs is of a lush spray of deep red roses climbing a fence.
The roses are at the absolute peak of their bloom and seem languorously heavy headed with summer’s warmth — exactly the sunny feeling the show is meant to evoke.
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