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Report by Paula Antolini
September 2, 2016 12:42PM EDT
Photo above: Jim Felice with his sculpture located on the grounds of the Bethel Public Library.
Bethel CT Brings Public Art to the Community
As the summer winds down and the autumn air brings cooler nights to our quaint New England town, there’s no better time to take a walk through downtown Bethel and afford you the luxury of catching a glimpse of Bethel Arts’ Public Sculpture Exhibit. Adorning the Bethel Municipal Center lawn and the gardens of the Bethel Public Library, ten large scale sculptures lead your curiosity on a journey of imagination.
The idea for such a grandiose endeavor started in the spring of 2014 when representatives of Bethel Arts met renowned sculpture, David Boyajian, whose sculpture barn in New Fairfield, CT is home to a plethora of creative works ranging from metal sculptures to works on paper and hosts an array of exhibits throughout the year representing a wide variety of artists. Mr. Boyajian, along with Bethel’s economic development director and Bethel Arts co-founder, Janice Chrzescijanek, worked on a strategy to bring this idea to life.
Once a plan was in place, Bethel Arts applied for and received a grant in the amount of $5,000 from the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, to supplement a community art project lasting one year.
That left $10,000 to be raised by volunteer efforts through community support from residents and businesses alike through a crowdrise campaign. In the following months, a small group of Bethel Arts’ volunteers reached out to surrounding businesses explaining how public art can affect Bethel’s culture and economy in a positive manner and how their support can make it happen.
Bethel Arts’ also met with local officials and presented their idea to the Bethel Public Library’s Board of Directors in order to secure space for the sculptures. Ultimately, the funding was secured and the final phase was under way.
As the process took shape, Mr. Boyajian explained his unique relationship with the artists and how the sites were chosen.
“My main objective was the proximity of the sculptures to a central location of major public access. The sites were the library and the town hall, both civic institutions with great outreach potential to all the citizens of the community of Bethel CT. Proximity creates a greater sense of inclusion and access to the public and the artist. It creates a sense of balance and community purpose. Each artist that was selected for this exhibition is a close and personal friend of mine with a long working history in the field of sculpture. Two of the sculptors in the exhibition, Glenn Zweygardt and John Ferguson were teachers and mentors of mine. These artists were strongly influential in my development as an artist and a sculptor.
Glenn was my sculpture instructor at Alfred University and John gave me an apprenticeship in his studio in Baltimore MD.
David Gerlach and I studied together at Rhinehart in the early 80’s. He has been creating dynamic and inspiring art for the past 40 years keeping his sculpture at the forefront of his creative career. Dave keeps his studio in Baltimore MD.
The other artists in the exhibition are colleagues and friends; some have even worked with me in my studio.
Matt Rink and Sarah Bader are graduates of Alfred University and studied with Glenn Zweygardt .They run their design studio, New Antiquities; in Bethel CT. Matt and Sarah are the next generation of dynamic artist and designers.
Jim Felice has his studio and Trailer Box Gallery in Bethel CT and is an exceptionally gifted artist and sculptor who promotes and exhibits other artist while running his studio and fabrication facility.
Richard Pitts is a painter who turned to sculpture as the next stage in the development of his art and creative process. Richard taught painting and printmaking at FIT for 35 years and keeps a studio in NYC and PA. Richard is a power house when it comes to the creative process of making art. He has influenced many generations of young artist and continues to help promote their careers.
B.A. D’Alessandro studied with me at the Silvermine School of Art. B.A. is a dedicated hard working sculptor, and a creative and gifted artist with a very strong and powerful liner poetic narrative.
Steven Brooks is an architect and artist that ran his own commercial architectural firm in NYC. Steven has worked out of my studio designing models and large scale sculptures for public view. His sculptural narratives are poetic and iconic where the organic becomes the architectural.
Murray Bodin is an engineer who has been studying sculpture with me for the past 8 years and has been greatly influenced by structure and design concepts of industry and nature.
Kate Winn is an artist from South Portland ME and a colleague of mine. We studied together at Alfred University. Kate is a painter and is revisiting the concepts of her painted imagery through metal sculpture with her sculpture titled Maine Stories.
When artists have worked closely together there is a strong shared influence about the content of ideas and ways of working. Permanent materials become influential and give longevity to supporting the content and ideas of the creative process. They foster historic dialogue and create a living history of the artist and their time. The concept of teacher and mentor, colleague and student, creates the presence of like minded individuals each advancing and learning at the same time. It creates access through proximity where teaching and learning are a symbiotic relationship.”
On May 7th, a grand opening ceremony was well attended by over 100 residents and artists at the Bethel Public Library. Ten smaller sculptures were put on display in the library’s lobby and Bethel Arts put together a walking tour that can be picked up in the library, town hall or viewed on their website at http://sculptures.bethelartsct.org/
Since the opening, the smaller sculptures have been moved to David’s studio in New Fairfield. An exhibit of those pieces is planned for October 2016.
So far three sculptures have been sold totaling almost $20,000. The sold sculptures were replaced by new sculptures from Kate Winn and B.A. D’Alessandro. Through a survey available on Bethel Arts’ website, the organization is also seeing increased patronization of local businesses and an increased interest in the arts as a result of the exhibit.
In the future, Bethel Arts plans to develop artist talks and programs as well continuing the tradition in 2017 with 10 new sculptures. A percentage of the profit from the sold pieces will contribute to the new exhibit.
Bethel Arts is a community-based nonprofit organization that seeks to promote, build and support all facets of the arts and creative culture in the town of Bethel, CT. Membership includes area artists of all sorts, educators, businesses and audiences that know the importance of building and sustaining a vibrant creative community. From music to theatre to visual arts to new media, Bethel Arts aims to generate an atmosphere of collaboration, growth, and vitality in Bethel.
Bethel Arts’ Artspace is a gallery and event space at 91 Greenwood Avenue that is open to the public.
For more information, visit www.BethelArtsCT.org
Numbers on tour map (click to view larger), correspond to details below.
Artist: David Boyajian
Photo above: David Boyajian with his sculpture.
An iconic form is created in the moments when nature deconstructs itself. A seed caught in the wind. The green shoots of a wildflower pushing through the soil. The thrashing of a river after heavy rains. A surge of energy spurs a separation – a great unfolding. It is these naturally sculptural moments that inspire my work.
The physical act of creating sculpture requires a great deal of energy. I create and alter structures until they find balance and become entities unto themselves. This process often begins in drawing, a much more cerebral and immediate medium connecting the hand to the mind. Both sculpture and drawing can find completion in a natural, unadorned state, or a piece may ask for added dynamism and emotion in a layer of bright orange powder-coat or rich scarlet pastels.
The elements of nature are present in all of my work, from personal to private and public commissions. In creating public art, I am one of many authors writing the history of man’s existence, and that of his attempt to rationally construct and give relevance to his emotional, physical, and spiritual connection to the world. This endeavor continually brings me back to the cycle of nature and its poignant synchronicity to human evolution.
This piece is for sale: $12,000
Artist: David Gerlach
Photo above: David Gerlach sculpture located on the green of the CJH Municipal Center in Bethel, CT.
David Gerlach was born in Washington, DC in 1950. His father and mother were both actively involved in the Capitol area art scene as painters, exposing David to the creative world at an early age. An associate of his father, who was welding abstract sculptures, taught him the basics and he began combining found metal objects in to free standing pieces when he was 16yrs old.
The public school system at the time was beginning a pilot program for an arts magnet school, and David was among a small group chosen for a new curriculum which devoted a full half day of intense studio time. He quickly expanded his knowledge of different welding techniques and learned to fabricate his own shapes in metal. The curriculum emphasized the importance of classical art forms but allowed the students the freedom to develop their own voice. He was inspired by artists like David Smith and he began to interpret the world he saw in abstract forms.
Subsequently he pursued his love of working with metal through college, beginning locally at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington and then being accepted at the prestigious Cooper Union School of Art in New York where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in the 70’s. He was accepted in to the graduate program for sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art and earned his Master’s degree in 1982. While in Baltimore he married and started working in the studio he named Wolfe Street Ironworks, which he maintains to this day.
He has worked in a variety of fields over the years which all have involvement with the arts and metal. He was an Associate Professor at Montgomery College in Rockville, MD where he taught both 3-D design and sculpture. He has done metal work for over 30 major film and television productions. He has fabricated custom metal architectural components for buildings in the mid-Atlantic, including the corporate logo for TRowe Price. He also was awarded a public commission for the City of Baltimore honoring John Eager Howard, which is documented in the book “Outdoor Sculptures of Baltimore” by Cindy Kelly. He has shown his work in galleries throughout the mid-Atlantic and his sculptures and drawings are in private collections internationally.
Fabricated Corten Steel Ht. 106″ x w. 65.5″ x 24″
This piece is for sale: $11000
Artist: B.A. D’Alessandro
Photo above: Sculpture by B.A. D’Alessandro, located on the grounds of the Bethel Public Library.
B.A. D’Alessandro has created sculptures in a variety of materials, but has been concentrating on steel for the last twenty years. Steel lends itself well to straight lines, angles and curves; the influence of geometric shapes is apparent in her sculptures. Taking “pre-formed” stock pieces of steel, the artist arranges and organizes them to create strong, balanced structures. Painting them black gives each its own elegance. Adding color in the past few years to selected pieces has given them a new boldness. B.A. studied welding techniques at Silvermine Art Center, New Canaan with David Boyajian and followed him to his studio at The Sculpture Barn in New Fairfield, Connecticut. She has studied with Bob Perucci at Silvermine Art Center, New Canaan, CT. Born in the Bronx and raised in Hartsdale, B.A. resides in White Plains, New York. She attended two Westchester County colleges, receiving an Associate of Arts degree at Briarcliff College and a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Studio Art with an emphasis in sculpture at Marymount College.
An award-winning sculptor exhibiting throughout Westchester and Fairfield counties, (The Katonah Museum of Art, The Carriage Barn, The Flinn Gallery and The Sculpture Barn), she is a member of Mamaroneck Artists Guild, the National Association of Woman Artist and is currently the President of the New Rochelle Art Association.
This piece is for sale: $13,500
Artist: Richard Pitts
Photo above: Richard Pitts with his sculpture located on the green of the CJH Municipal Center in Bethel, CT.
Originally from New Jersey, Richard Pitts is a Pratt Institute graduate with a military background who began with a studio on 18th Street, NYC, is a founding member of the First Street Gallery now located in Chelsea, NY (an artist run gallery), full professor of Fine Art at the Fashion Institute of Technology, founding member of Urban Studio Unbound, President of M55 Art.
“Since the 1970s, landscape has served as either framework or subject while the acquisition of meaning has shifted toward the viewer. Richard Pitts continues to explore the various metaphors inherent to the natural environment, suggesting that art is not only bridged with life but is also a product of it. In creating this new series of free-standing, abstract sculptures, the artist lends form to the notion of placeless-ness, rendering a series of aesthetic intersections where personal narratives commune with the visual. Intended for both interior and exterior sites, Richard Pitts’ new selection of colorful, metallic objects free up the art experience even further by utilizing the tenets of formalism to touch upon a deeper sense of “being” in the world.
“Pitts has expanded into the third-dimension by forging the drawn line into a single, hand-held object. Extending this idea onto a series of surfaces that echo the thick, black line seen in his earlier work, the artist compiles a series of randomly tailored surfaces that connect with one another to represent either frosty, wall-hung starburst shapes or tall, wing-like forms. Pitts utilizes the drawn line as a springboard for sculptures that attempt to draw on their own, within the scope of physical space.
Richard Pitts’ new sculptures are complex in that they symbolize time or, more simply, the thought or feeling of a particular moment. In 2001 Pitts began breaking down the painted figure into a series of panels that fit together in a puzzle-like fashion. This gradual separation of colors appeared five years later in a series of tall totem structures that reflected a variety of juxtaposing colors, patterns and textures, which were separated by a thick, undulating black line, echoing the construct of stained glass windows. However in giving shape to a series of metaphysical characteristics that are rarely captured within figurative painting, Pitts has moved the idea of sculpture away from its multi-layered, object-based history and toward one’s personal mythology.
Portions in quotes above written by Jill Conner.
Artist Website: Richardpittssculpture.com
Hand fabricated by the artist. Powder Coated Aluminum.
This piece is for sale: $11,000
ARTIST: Murray Bodin
Photo above: Murray Bodin with his sculpture located on the green of the CJH Municipal Center in Bethel, CT.
About 15 years ago we were in Israel at the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden and I saw David Smith’s Cubi VI sculpture that spoke to me; I took some pictures of it and when I got home, I copied it in wood.
Serendipitously, on a Sunday about 8 years ago, as we were exploring the back roads of lower Connecticut we came upon David Boyajian’s Sculpture Barn. We toured the garden, spoke to David and I joined his weekly class. Since then I have been creating welded steel sculptures, starting with a small copy of Smith’s Cubi VI in stainless steel. I recently added color which I think adds something important and timely to the pieces. I have also moved from angles to circles, more rounded, softer, more human scale.
I have always been someone interested in the physical environment around me. I have noticed bridges and how they were constructed, roads and why they were curved or straight as well as landscapes, as we drive the back roads of the world … I hope my sculptures reflect our changing world.
I learned welding at a Yonkers NY night trade school 50 years ago. It was fun then, more fun now. I’ve had shows in various libraries. There are outdoor sculptures of mine besides here in Bethel; at the Greenburgh NY Town Hall, Hartsdale NY Metro North Station, and Monterey MA Library. There are a number of pieces in private collections. Color and simple forms are very important to me and are reflected in my work.
This piece is for sale: $6,500
Artist: Kate Winn
Photo above: Kate Winn sculpture located on the grounds of the Bethel Public Library.
I’ve noticed that I return over and over to certain themes, abstract forms, and compositions. I’m not sure why. There is something about the line between atmosphere and earth, about the interaction between the tops of trees and air that attracts my eye. I am drawn to sky reflected in water on the ground, cold and dusk, the patterns of melting snow on a hillside, and the incredible loneliness I feel when night overtakes wild winter land.
Then there are the patterns made by our presence, the trails and shapes we leave as part of some relationship to a place, and that pattern’s intersection with other shapes and sky. When these interactions coincide, there is truly nothing else I can do but try to bring the elements together on a canvas or in a sculpture and tell the story of that moment as best I can.
For more information and other works, visit katewinnstudios.com
This piece is available for sale: $10,000
ODE TO GROWTH
Artist: Glenn Zweygardt
Photo above: Glenn Zwegardt sculpture located on the grounds of the Bethel Public Library.
The theme of my sculpture is the placement of myself in relation to nature. While working in materials such as metal, stone and glass, I am telling three-dimensional stories that capture my life experiences immersed in my perception of a collective consciousness. It is my intention that these stories, spoken through an expression of form, texture and color, will enter into human consciousness and the fourth dimension.
Born and raised in Northwest Kansas, Glenn Zweygardt received his BFA from Wichita State University in sculpture and painting. He then earned his MFA from the Rinehart School of Sculpture at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.
For over 40 years, Glenn has been an active sculptor and educator. With more than 50 solo exhibitions and multiple purchase awards to his name, he shows works both nationally and internationally. His sculptures are included in many university, museum, outdoor and private collections.
Now an emeritus professor of Sculpture at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Glen continues to make signature sculptures in his Alfred Station studio. His creations of steel, ductile iron, stainless steel, cast glass, cast bronze and aluminum are often combined with stone from around the world. These sculptures range from monumental outdoor works to small, intimate pieces.
This piece is for sale: $12,000.
Artist: John Dunn Ferguson
Photo above: John Dunn Ferguson sculpture located on the grounds of the Bethel Public Library.
My work is an expression, possibly a composite, of all the forms, both organic and manufactured, that are pleasing to me. The work has evolved in the direction of dancing, naturalistic forms such as blown leaves. Heavier cylindrical forms that could be associated with industry and my earlier work are still part of my lexicon.
The tripartite composition is a given. Somewhere in the far corners of my art education, the idea was presented that “three” was the perfect number because it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Obviously, this idea took hold.
The fabrication process is important. My ideas are realized first in small Styrofoam models. The models have to be accurately enlarged and reproduced in unyielding steel. This hands-on process stimulates my imagination and increases my vocabulary of forms.
Fabricated steel, painted
This piece is for sale: $7,500
MENSA & SEDES
Artists: Matt Rink & Sarah Bader
Photo above: Matt Rink and Sarah Bader with their sculpture located on the grounds of the Bethel Public Library.
The communal table is an underappreciated archaic symbol. The table is a hub conducive to gathering; it serves as a platform for conversation and nourishment. It sustains us physically and socially. A minimalist form, beautiful in and of itself, the table comes to life as an interactive social sculpture when interacted with. Social sculpture is defined as art which has the ability to transform the surrounding social environment.
Mensa & Sedes is at once an object and a social space. It is a form and an actuator, a hierarchical leveling platform where people regardless of background or social constraints can see eye to eye, exchanging food, stories, and ideas.
As members of the bethel community, we feel that amplifying social interaction centered on art and growth is invaluable. In a world of electronic socialization, an analog social connection is a grounding experience.
Matt and Sarah own and operate New Antiquity, a bethel based creative design build company, working on projects locally and nationally.
Matt Rink and Sarah Bader are husband and wife, artists and builders living in Redding, CT. They both attended Alfred University in Upstate New York, each receiving a BFA in sculpture, metal working, woodworking, and photography combined. Matt obtained his MFA in sculpture from Clemson University in South Carolina.
What began as an exciting collaboration, building furniture for their apartment and wedding, swiftly grew into a full time business as they discovered the possibilities in the confluence between functional and fine art. Matt and Sarah draw inspiration from the landscape and history around them, creating designs that are purposeful and transformative. The couple offers one-of-a-kind pieces made with locally salvaged reclaimed wood and sustainably harvested lumber. All their creations are built and designed with clever details and fine craftsmanship that is both practical and whimsical. They specialize in furniture and decor as well as custom built-ins and renovation work. Their shop boasts a full array of woodworking and metal fabrication equipment allowing an unlimited range of aesthetic possibility. When they aren’t in the shop they can be found hiking in the woods or gathering with family and friends to relax and cook sumptuous meals.
This piece is for sale: $12,998.
THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN
Artist: Jim Felice
Photo above: Jim Felice with his sculpture located on the grounds of the Bethel Public Library.
As a musician, I’ve learned that a performer responds to the unique energy of a particular time and place. By interacting with new materials and configurations each day, I incorporate spontaneity and improvisation into my creative process. Playing with material, form, color and shape allows me to combine unexpected variables. I approach sculpting like a jazz musician at an impromptu jam session — after years of rehearsal, I jump in and let the work develop.
I would like my work to create a child like sense of wonder.
This piece is for sale: $17,000.
Blades of Grass
Artist: Steven Brooks
Artist: B.A. D’Alessandro
Artist: B.A. D’Alessandro