New Haven’s Kehler Liddell Gallery hosted an opening reception on Sunday for two exhibitions that will run until Valentine’s Day and set the stage for the Elm City’s celebration of love.
One exhibition, entitled “Couples,” features the work of local artist and Kehler Liddell Gallery member Kathleen Zimmerman. “New Year/New Work,” the second exhibition showcases the work of 20 of the 21 artists who are members of this Whalley Avenue gallery. Casey McDougal, a Screen Actor’s Guild actor, performed a mini-play inspired by “Couples,” during the reception.
“Well, since it’s coming up to Valentine’s Day, I decided to think about how I used paired images in my work,” Zimmerman said. “There are a number of [artists in the other exhibition] that played off of my theme, too.”
Zimmerman’s exhibition builds off her earlier work, in particular “EastWest Series” — a collection of prints that brought Eastern and Western ideas together, visually comparing the two cultures. For “Couples,” Zimmerman expanded upon the concept of mirrored, paired and reflected images.
The theme of “Couples” naturally complements Zimmerman’s preferred medium, printmaking, Zimmerman said. The etching or carving from which a print is made is always a mirror image of the print itself.
“[The exhibition’s concept] depended upon the strength of the design … because sometimes, you look at [a design] one way and it looks fine, and you flip it over and you think it’s terrible,” Zimmerman said. “I started realizing that I can draw both ways and the design will work both ways.”
“New Year/New Work,” features a diverse collection of etchings, sculptures, paintings, drawings, prints and photographs from the other gallery members — all of which are from the Greater New Haven region. For group shows, all gallery members are invited to contribute.
Gar Waterman, a co-founder of the gallery, noted that the gallery is currently an “unusual hybrid” of its typical self. Usually, the gallery features two solo shows and one group show with a single piece from each gallery member, Waterman said. But because the only solo show is Zimmerman’s, “New Year/New Work” features multiple works from each contributing member. This amalgam of art pieces captures the rich history of collaboration among the gallery’s artists.
“This gallery came out of a development that my wife, [Thea Buxbaum], was part of founding called ‘ArLoW,’ ArtLoftsWest, which is actually New Haven’s first and only artist-affordable housing program,” Waterman said. “We helped get this place off the ground with a few other artists who we knew at the time, and it has managed to keep its doors open for the last 10 years or so.”
Penrhyn Cook, a photographer and gallery member, described Kehler Liddell as a “cooperative” as all gallery members contribute to running the gallery and organizing openings. Applications for membership to the gallery are reviewed by current gallery members, who then make admissions decisions.
“It’s really a group running an art gallery,” Cook said. “And for me, I can’t think of any place in Connecticut that has a higher functioning group of artists … It’s fun to be around a group of such talented artists.”
The gallery’s next exhibitions, “Matter and Time,” “Looking Southwest” and “Many Voices, One Song,” open Feb. 18.