David Ottenstein ’82 likes to take black-and-white photographs of old, dilapidated buildings. Ottenstein, a member of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, now has an opportunity to showcase his work at the Council’s first annual Members Show exhibit.
The Arts Council is running this multi-media artistic exhibition from Nov. 6 to Dec. 31 in two buildings on Audubon Street. The exhibit is designed to help current members show their work and to entice other artists to become members. For the first time, artists can display and sell their work merely by joining the Arts Council.
Ottenstein submitted a photograph entitled “Barn #2,” which depicts a broken-down greenhouse in Hamden that had always attracted his attention.
“[I liked] the wood tones, the light sneaking in through the missing pieces of wall,” he said. “I just found it to be beautiful, especially for black and white.”
Director of the Arts Council Betty Monz said the Members Show will “strengthen the arts — [by] increasing participation in the arts by artists and audiences.”
The exhibit features 158 pieces by 88 Arts Council members, each of whom was allowed to submit up to two pieces. There were so many submissions that the exhibit had to be expanded from the Small Space Gallery at 70 Audubon Street to another location at 63 Audubon, Griffith said.
Monz said she received paintings, sculptures, photography and prints from professional artists who teach classes as well as amateurs who dabble in art. She said she convinced a security guard who “liked to do [art] from time to time” to join the Arts Council and display his work at the Members Show.
“We coaxed him out into believing his work was art and sharing it with others,” Monz said.
Two paintings by Tony “Baloney” Juliano stand out as unique parodies of famous artwork. One depicts a bottle of Elmer’s glue with a Picasso-esque bull — resembling the one in Guernica — on the label. The caption, “Picasso’s Glue Period,” refers playfully to Picasso’s Blue Period, a 14-month period in which the Spanish artist painted some of his most famous works. Juliano’s second painting, “Portrait of Fritos Kahlo,” portrays Frieda Kahlo with a monkey holding a large bag of Fritos.
“All of this guy’s stuff is a play on words,” Lisa Rovello, director of marketing and communications at Arts Council, said. “It’s sort of refreshing to [see] a different angle.”
Anna Jaffee, another Arts Council member, submitted a collage called “Seacoast Village,” made of brown paper towels. She said she hopes onlookers will enjoy “the interplay of shapes and design, and the depth created by color.”
Griffith said members were “absolutely ecstatic” at this opportunity to display their work, especially since “some of them have never had an opening.”
The exhibition not only creates publicity for artists, but it also helps them sell pieces. Most of the artwork is for sale, with prices ranging from $35 for a color photograph to $1,800 for an oil painting. Artists keep 90 percent of sales and the Arts Council keeps 10 percent.
“Any work sold has huge benefit to the artist and some benefit to the Arts Council,” Monz said. “It’s a question of people being comfortable enough with what they like to buy.”
Griffith said the space at 63 Audubon, which Yale owns, is usually vacant. She said she thinks Yale should establish a permanent gallery there as an addition to the Audubon Arts District.