Tag Archive: painting

  1. “Many Voices, One Song:” A fascinating, disturbing look at nature

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    It’s an unassuming exhibit.

    Lining just one hallway of the Environmental Science Center on 21 Sachem Street, Ava Orphanoudakis’s “Many Voices, One Song,” is a quiet ode to the earth. As not only an artist but an environmental activist, Orphanoudakis focuses on the connection between man and nature in her paintings. In particular, she asks in the exhibit’s introduction for passersby to consider two main questions while viewing her works: Can we listen to the music of the earth? Can we hear our many voices as one song?

    Orphanoudakis opens her exhibit by inviting viewers to contemplate themselves — and discard the “I” entirely. In a piece aptly named “Death of the Ego,” Orphanoudakis sets the stage for an experience that is more about just feeling rather than thinking — the music of the earth, after all, not the theory. It is the only work featuring human figures, but it is far from out-of-place. “Death of the ego” isn’t necessarily “pretty” to look at —flustered, frenzied, it’s a surreal dream in grayscale—but that’s exactly the point.  It disturbs, it discomforts, it discredits what is traditionally beautiful — because nature as rendered by Orphanoudakis is not the serene landscapes, the woods, the fields we’ve grown accustomed to. Instead, through “Death of the ego,” she creates a striking world where there are no definable things, only the colors and textures of the land and the sea and the sky.

    Orphanoudakis’s weakest works in the exhibit are often too literal for their own good. In the trio “Up From The Earth We Rise #1, #2, #3” and “Melting Ice, Rising Black Water,” Orphanoudakis struggles to match the title of the piece to the actual content of the piece. For example, “Up From The Earth We Rise #1, #2, #3” feature columns rising up from layers of soil while “Melting Ice, Rising Black Water” looks like an actual ice floe torn to pieces by the sea. The result is jarring.

    Orphanoudakis really shines when she just lets her paintings settle on the paper, when she just lets the art speak for itself. “From The Earth: Blue-Green Ode,” is perhaps the most intriguing painting in the exhibit. It’s an interpretation of the ocean that, for the most part, looks nothing like the ocean — sheets of solid color disturbed by squares of rough- and-tumble whorls and warps — but it’s that little similarity, that tiny connection hinted at by the title that lends it its power. The title and quotes give the context, and the painting gives the meaning: the peaceful lull of the waves, the crash and break of the storms.

    Orphanoudakis succeeds whenever she gives her art and the viewer room to breathe. Her “Standing Tall” series (highlights include “Lit By Moonlight, Standing Tall,” “Falling Night Rain, Standing Tall,” “Chased by the Wind, Standing Tall”) are the strongest in her exhibit. They are nothing more than lines and shades, but they invite the viewer to get lost in their curves and angles, to put away titles and quotations for a moment and just feel nature, the stillness of the moon, the melancholy of the rain dripping on metal, the whip of the wind blowing away at clothes. They’re evocative, they’re entrancing, they’re alluring, and it’s here that Orphanoudakis really does display the titular “music” and “voices,” that persuading song of nature, mysterious and inexplicable, calling out for company.

    “Many Voices, One Song” ends with the eponymous collection of paintings “Many Voices, One Song #1-28,” a series of 28 miniature panels, each with a different image. Some are more concrete, a yellow-tipped mountain watching over an unbroken sea, while others are more abstract, intersections of ridges and grooves and melting colors. It’s a collection of scenes, snapshots of nature, universal in their location and time, the sunset, the sunrise, the calm, the wreck, the order, the mess, everything that Orphanoudakis has expressed in her previous paintings condensed into a mosaic of tiny squares that captures the unity in diversity, the connection of disparate things, that threads through her entire exhibit. “Many Voices, One Song #1-28” is not only visually striking, spanning an entire wall, it’s also the most satisfying piece. While the other works were simply short meditations on nature, some of them off-the-mark, “Many Voices, One Song #1-28” is the culmination of Orphanoudakis’s efforts, at once both neatly simple and fascinatingly intricate, a fitting end to an impressive showcase.

  2. Watching the Audiences

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    I was fifteen when I first thought about the way people look at art. In mid-September of 2011, my dad took me to a retrospective of the German photographer Thomas Struth in a small gallery in East London. We walked through hushed, white rooms where large, glossy prints seemed draw us into their scenes. Struth had photographed intimidating, intricate machinery and seductive, green jungles, and we found ourselves tangled in outstretched mechanical limbs and elegant fronds. But we were most caught up in the photographs that seemed to pose as mirrors in the gallery. We were captivated, watching snippets of lives that seemed to resemble our own. Struth’s photographs from the early 2000s, a series titled “Audiences,” were life-size photographs of gallery-goers caught in the act of looking.

    * * *

    I’m now sitting in the Yale University Art Gallery. I’m in the room with the Romans and the Greeks, surrounded by ancient stones and the dull eyes of past powers. Light falls through the tall windows and stripes the floor with shadows. This is the first room when you enter the gallery, and for that reason it seems that people don’t really stick here. They merely glance around, unsure of what to look at, before moving on to the big stuff: the Titians, the Manets, Van Gogh’s “Night Café” — everything that people know and can marvel at with ease.

    The room is pretty empty right now. Everyone seems to have his or her attention directed elsewhere, but maybe that’s because it’s a Friday evening and there are 15 minutes until closing time. There are one or two who wander in and pay a bit more attention to the surrounding relics, like the man who clasped his hands together, smiled and bowed his hairless head to me as I held the door open for a group of accented tourists — “Thank you very much darling.” He idles between busts and portraits with those hands now clasped behind his back, his posture straight and chin lifted while his eyes study Marcus Aurelius through his glasses. His slow, soft steps are deliberate along with his poise, giving him an air of assurance. Then, there are those who come through the Ancient Art room just searching for an exit. Those are the more elderly visitors: white tufts of hair and spotted faces that smile at me. Their cheeks crease, eyes crinkling as they meet mine.

    Upstairs in the corridors of European Art, I look for the names that I know, the brushstrokes I can try to decode and identify with. Sometimes, if the surface of a painting particularly intrigues me, I walk up to it and, standing quite close to the canvas, search for evidence of the artist’s human touch. Sometimes a work of art becomes so well known and revered that it almost seems to have come into this world fully formed, as if no man or woman’s hand could possibly create such an icon.

    I can’t remember the first time I picked up a pencil, crayon or magic marker. My fingers have always known the grip of a pen, and my back has always been familiar with the sensation of hunching, shoulders forward, as if poised to dive into the picture-plane of my creation. I’m comfortable making art, but looking is an entirely different matter. My knowledge of art history consists only of the few facts I remember from a high school class on the subject, none of which are relevant in small, hushed galleries like that one in East London. There, all that is needed is a single glance from one of the gallery’s employees, someone who knows that he knows more than I do, and I am left exposed.

    If galleries and museums leave artists and art-enthusiasts alike feeling lost and uneducated, why do we keep going back? Why did my dad and I, on a dreary Saturday in mid-September, take the Tube from central London and ride the rattling tracks all the way to a small, out-of-the-way exhibition in East London?

    * * *

    Crossing the hall, I leave behind the late 19th century for the likes of Hals, Rubens and Uccello. This side of the gallery is empty; I drift farther back in history and away from familiar faces, names, color palettes and anatomically correct figures. A member of the staff dressed in black and blue interrupts my reverie to inform me that “The gallery is closing soon.” I nod and head for the elevator with the guard following slightly behind, padding across the wooden floors with his black, patent leather loafers.

    Looking around the elevator, I see many of the same people from Struth’s photographs. There are men and women clutching brochures at their sides, their eyes scanning the interior of the elevator with varying levels of engagement, their clothes not too far from the average styles of 2004 and 2005: blocks of color, garish floral prints and baggy trousers. There are children holding their parents’s hands, and adolescents casting their eyes to the ground. Nobody moves to interact with the other gallery-goers. They are all wrapped in their own observations.

    I step out of the elevator and into another gallery. Soft chatter hums in one corner while the sharp report of boot heels against a hardwood floor punctures the still atmosphere. As I glance around me, I see people focusing on what they see before themselves. They are searching, with eyes that dart to and fro and meander through landscapes of paint; they are searching with bodies that crouch over and lean in and step back to take in the whole scene. And then, at some point or another, a change occurs. The searching eyes widen, a smile shimmers across the cheeks and the back straightens. It has been found, that familiar thing they were searching for, that which they can’t tuck away in a tote bag but which they will hold on to. With such a souvenir acquired, they will leave feeling like the afternoon at the gallery was worth their time. I’m also looking for something to take home, something I can use myself. I’m looking for those hints of human, a mistake, a structural line, an exposed layer of old paint, an exposed layer of old ideas, ancient people, a different time.

  3. Painting and Power Tools with Nicole Eisenman

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    Nicole Eisenman is a modern Renaissance woman. A RISD-grad and bona-fide art history buff with a teaching gig at Bard, she boasts a body of work spanning at least three mediums and residing in more than six prestigious museum collections (MoMA among them). Though she maintains the self-assurance of an artist who’s really “made it,” the painter, sculptor and part-time curator remains as down-to-earth and self-deprecating as they come. Eisenman is thoughtful without ever seeming to take herself too seriously and more than willing to chat with WEEKEND about Dracula, the time she accidentally took a bite out of a work of art, and why all budding MFAs should learn how to use power tools, ASAP.

    Q: How did you get your start as an artist? When did you realize that your passion for art was something you wanted to make into a career?

    A: That, for me, happened pretty young. I decided at some point in high school that I was going to apply to art school, and so I really had an idea pretty early on of what I wanted to do. It wasn’t so much a “career choice” as a pursuit of this passion I had for art-making, and I was — I have been — very fortunate to make a career out of it, and to make a living doing it. I don’t know that I ever pursued it as a career; it was more that I was always interested in art and wanted to do it, and the “career” kind of fell into place — luckily for me — as I went along.

    Q: If you had to describe your work to someone unfamiliar with it in a few sentences, what would you say?

    A: I am primarily a painter, although I draw, sculpt, print-make, curate and collaborate as well. My work is largely narrative, more often than not figurative, and it’s hard to pin down. Broad strokes, but I think that would be a pretty apt description of it.

    Q: What does your studio practice look like?

    A: [It’s] pretty straightforward. I come in here usually around 11 in the morning, and I work until 8 or 9 at night. I punch the clock everyday … Basically, I come in at 11, I have lunch looking at the work I did the day before; I play records while I work. And usually I’m distracted, texting friends as I work. I basically spend the day floating between my iPhone and my paintings and my record player.

    Q: What’s your craziest art world story? (Because everybody in the art world is crazy…)

    A: It’s true … there’s a lot of kook in the art world. Everybody is kooks in the art world; that’s why I try to avoid it as much as I can. [Laughs] My craziest art world stories are totally slanderous! Couldn’t possibly repeat them here. One silly thing comes to mind, though … I did take a bite out of a Robert Gober donut when they were on display at Paula Cooper back in the day. Even after I spit it out, it still didn’t occur to me that I had bitten into an artwork.

    Q: Although it sounds like you might try to keep your distance from the art world, are there any events happening — in New York City or elsewhere — that we should know about?

    A: I’m not sure I have a lot of super great advice, but the shows that are currently on my docket are Chris Ofili [at the New Museum] and Matisse [at the Museum of Modern Art]. And then there’s a Neo Rauch show opening soon at [David] Zwirner. Those are shows I want to see.

    Q: Several biographies, such as one written for the Carnegie Prize, which you received in 2013, mention the influence of art history on your work. What do you consider the role of the history of art in a technical art education?

    A: I think it’s an essential part of an artist’s education. I think it’s important to be aware of what’s come before us, probably for a lot of different reasons. But what I like to think is that all of us — all artists, as a subgroup of humankind — are in this big project together. We’re all moving the humanities and art forward together, and we’re part of a family. I feel like I’m part of a family tree of artists, and I want to know who I’m related to; I’m curious about art history because I feel like I have relations to these artists, and I think it’s a place to go to find inspiration.

    History can be both inspiring and something to push back against; something to draw inspiration from and to resist. Not to resist in terms of not learning about it — obviously I’m interested in learning about art history and seeing everything — in the sense that young artists need to know about it so they can make an educated resistance against it.

    Q: In light of your belief in the importance of art history, do you have any favorite artists, art movements or even particular works that inspire you?

    A: It changes all the time. I look at the German Expressionists and the French Impressionists; Munch … I’m interested in everything. I’m looking at my bookshelf right now, and I see Blake, Brueghel, Picasso, Bonnard; I see a book about the pictorial history of monsters in Hollywood movies; I have a book of album cover art; of Hogarth … I mean, I really try to take in everything. It all feeds the beast.

    Q: It’s kitschy but … if you could spend an afternoon with anyone — alive or dead — who would it be? (“Yourself” is also a potentially acceptable answer.)

    A: I could do better than myself. I actually don’t think I’d want to have dinner with myself … I do that all the time, and it’s not that interesting. [Laughs] Anyways, it’s like Halloween-time, so maybe Dracula? Maybe we could make some kind of deal, and I wouldn’t feel like I would have to make all this art on a deadline … I feel like I could relax and slow down if I had another 500 years.

    Q: In reading your bio on Koenig & Clinton’s website, I noticed you live and work in Brooklyn. Do you have any favorite neighborhood spots where you think everyone should go (or not go)?

    A: Everybody should avoid the vape bar [Beyond Vape] on Grand Street downstairs from my apartment — it smells like people are smoking strawberry shortcake. That would really be a place to avoid. And a place to go … I like to drink beers at Achilles Heel; it’s a nice old-timey bar. I did a painting last summer called Achilles Heel, actually.

    Q: You teach at Bard College. If your students learn one thing from you, what do you hope it to be?

    A: Learn how to build walls. I think it’s really important that when you’re graduated from art school, you have some concrete skills: to know how to build things, how to handle a power tool, how to make stretchers and build stuff.

    Q: And, more broadly, any advice for young artists?

    A: I think my advice would be to keep your eye on what’s important and not to get sidetracked by the art world and having an art career. What’s essential, if you really believe in yourself as an artist, is to put the work — and not the career stuff — forward and to give it primacy in your thinking, so you’re not going to get obsessed with the art world, but obsessed with your process. The idea is just to keep your focus on what’s important and not to lose track of what’s essential, which is the making of your art. And then to be willing to do whatever the hell it takes; to be willing to work whatever crap-ass job you have to work to keep yourself flush in paint.

  4. Sparrow 780F-4

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    Most sentient beings seek some sense of stability, searching for homes, carving out spaces for themselves. The Taínos settled in the island of Hispaniola. Your pet dog has a favorite ottoman, just like you have a favorite cubicle in the library. The alpha wolf marks his territory of choice with urine. I paint my bedroom “Sparrow” — a light-medium gray, eggshell finish, mauve in some lights, periwinkle in others.

    A year ago, I nested. I bought two cans of Sparrow at Home Depot and returned to my room off campus. The colors were like twigs, the roller, my beak. I spread the paint across the wall in swaths of silver. My parents liked it. My friends liked it. That made me like it more.

    Elbows bent, arms extended, I attacked the surfaces back and forth, up and down. My materials were all within reach. Blue tape, drip cloth, paint tray, brush set, this was me doing something of importance. Barefoot, I stood on the chair, or on the bed, to cover these walls with every ounce of paint in the can. “Sparrow just screamed of Jordi — I hope people agree!”

    Plop, plop. With each new coat, tiny pellets fell toward the floorboards. I tried to collect all these paint dots off the floor with my fingertips, but the room was a field of microscopic debris, of unattended dust and fallen hair. All that dirt, I felt it as it rolled and mixed with the drops of gray. Everything smeared. Useless. The paint ended up on my soles, but I kept on going. I kept stepping on the tray. Then I waited for the wet walls to dry a little. My painted toes crackled when I wiggled them. It was part of the process, the weekend farce. A clumsy guy meeting paint for the first time.

    Hours and hours went by before I took a break. “Can’t stop till I’m done with this section!” I examined my work in intervals. If a hint of the old green snuck through a layer of gray, splat! I covered it up and moved on. The details, the edges, the corners, they called for a smaller tool and some off-white paint. I dipped the bristles in color and stroked my brush the same way I’d gently poke my testy father when I wanted to wake him up. I worried that I would ruin everything.

    The reward for my efforts eluded me. Gray was a safe choice. The space still looked bland, in need of a tchotchke or two, something cute and idiosyncratic. I had to spruce up the room’s barren walls — stencil in a clever design, daub a few chalkboard paint figures, buy the usual posters, build a habitat. I had to concoct a new coat of personality from and for myself.

    My housemates and I went to buy the knick-knacks, the new art. We drove to the nearest Savers, where the half-priced home décor felt most familiar. We grabbed a cart and made our way around the maze, our attention divided inside the trinket jungle. Nothing here was monochromatic. Decisions needed to be made, and as the options multiplied, I lost control. I was walking in circles. Creating a home began to feel like a burden. Completion, self-realization, it seemed far-fetched. I pushed the cart and considered every purchase with feigned conviction.

    Back at the house we flaunted our best buys and discussed our new plans, because as we agreed, homes are all about identity. They are nothing without a collective vision. Afterwards I retreated into my room to finish the paint job. My back ached, my head hurt, the fumes were getting me high. Back in Hispaniola we talk about Vicente, que va donde va la gente. Vincent, who goes where the people go. Maybe I was a Vincent, maybe my opinions belonged to others. But not in this bedroom.

    Sarah is not too sure about the pink canvas hanging on the wall. I think it’s droll. Too messy, says Sally, too empty, says George. Thanks for stopping by, Sally and George. Gloria gives the room a once-over. She doesn’t find the extra lamp practical. C’mon Gloria. The lamp stays.

  5. The Vibrancy of Gray

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    Leaning perilously over the display at the Yale University Art Gallery, the boy wasn’t quite sure what to make of artist Mona Hatoum’s quaint crystal orbs.

    “They’re grenades, honey,” his father said perplexedly, reading the description of Hatoum’s piece, titled “Nature morte aux grenades.” Upon closer inspection, what I had imaginatively taken for pomegranates protruding wartlike across a hospital gurney proved, indeed, to be grenades. The three of us clustered awkwardly on one side of the gurney, staring expectantly at the little bulbs as though waiting for them to either explode or explain themselves. Silence ensued as before.

    A guard nearby, coming suddenly to life from totemic stillness, shifted towards our company. I glanced at the child’s fingers, which had probably strayed too close for comfort and were now to be chastised. Instinctively, I stepped back, recalling with unfortunate clarity being criticized for touching museum pieces I ought not to be touching. We fixed ourselves like the grenades on the gurney, willing our bodies safely away from the art. It was the guard, though, of ursine proportions and with hands the size of Frisbees, who seemed more likely to crush the collection.

    But when he spoke, it was not, as I had thought, to usher us aside. “This is one of my favorite pieces,” the guard said. We looked at him, taken aback, as he proceeded to explain the work and the artist’s history. He was, clearly, no tour guide. Still, he continued as though he were, animatedly evincing a knowledge of the art more encyclopedic than I would ever have imagined from one whose task it was to stand by and secure art, not study it. First fruit had become firearm, and now security guard had become scholar. The guard’s name, he said, was Jerry Gray.


    After 14 years of renovations, the Yale University Art Gallery reopened in December 2012 to fanfare from visitors and journalists alike. Heralded as “magnificent” by The New Yorker, the YUAG was praised for its balanced collections that feature not only marquee pieces like Van Gogh’s “Night Café,” but also smaller, unexpected works by artists both famous and forgotten.

    The YUAG’s attention to the small and unexpected filters down to its security agents. Although Gray is a notable example, he isn’t the only guard who has taken more than a passing interest in the gallery’s offerings.

    Visitors to the gallery have noticed the guards’ excitement. One wrote in a letter, “Typically, the security in museums big and small [is] more like the statuary they protect. The enthusiasm I felt when I left your museum was due in no small part to their enthusiasm for the museum, too.”

    Gray insists he doesn’t know as much as I thought he did about the gallery. He says he’s studied a bit (“I did a little reading”), favors contemporary art (“Sol LeWitt and Pollock”) but also goes for the classical ­— in other words, his is an interest no more remarkable than that of your average amateur, he seemed to assert. Still, it’s hard to imagine LeWitt or Pollock preferring a viewer told by textbooks and lecturers to venerate their works over one like Gray, who has come to art of his own accord.

    “People are floored that I know things about the art,” he said, with a touch of pride. “But if I’m interested in it, I’m going to learn about it.” I pointed out that not everybody takes such initiative, and he shrugged. “That’s just how I am.”

    Despite his familiarity with many of the works in the gallery, Gray claims that he doesn’t have a favorite piece. Shaking his head, chuckling and shrugging his massive shoulders, he said that he loves “all the art.”

    “I love working in the Trumbull gallery,” he conceded. When I asked why, he widened his eyes, surprised that I didn’t know. Gray explained that Trumbull, a Harvard graduate, agreed to display his collection in the Yale galleries only under the condition that he and his wife be buried beneath his portrait of George Washington. It’s one story among many Gray likes to share with the people passing through his watch.

    Gray might be oversized, but there is no doubt that he is exactly where he belongs at the YUAG. Towering sturdily over his painted wards, he could be art himself, an ambitious artist’s exploration of the majesty in bulk and brawn. A sculptor might labor to make his face as full and self-assured as in life, to painstakingly chisel the manifold pleats and tucks in his cheeks that deepen when his lips let loose a smile.

    Gray is the kind of person around whom you feel either very safe or very scared, depending on your side of the law. As important as art has become to him, apparent in his largeness is that something else has held his heart far more tightly, and for far longer: football.


    Gray has spent the past 17 of his 45 years coaching football. Next year, he is poised to be the defensive coordinator of a new minor league pro team in Connecticut, the New Haven Venom. The day after he interviewed for the job, he was hired.

    “I am very, very good at coaching,” Gray said. It wasn’t bragging, just affirmation of what he knew to be fact. His tone left no room for doubt. “I’m going to coach till the day I die.”

    It’s a passion that has been fermenting since he started playing at the age of 5. Football became his “saving grace,” a place of comfort from a host of anger management problems. Gray’s father, a former football player himself, encouraged his burgeoning interest in the sport.

    That he was right for athletics became immediately apparent. As a child, he once “tackled a high school guy who weighed 270 pounds.” Unable to stop myself, I asked him how much he weighed at the time, as by his own admission, Gray was “always big.”

    “I wasn’t 270, I know that,” he responded grimly. “But I went at him hard. … I had no fear.”

    In Gray’s adolescence, a number of coaches noticed his talent. The first, Ron Carbone, a high school coach from Hamden, recruited him when he was only 12. Big and fast, Gray made an impression on each who saw him play.

    He seemed disarmingly nonchalant about the injuries he received on the field. “My mother was fine with football. It was actually my father that freaked out” about Gray’s bruises and bumps, he said. In high school, he rolled his ankle. Then, playing defensive lineman for Western Connecticut State College, he broke his neck, a fact he revealed only after I pressed him further. He broke his neck — then continued to play.

    “I lay on the ground, screaming,” recalled Gray. “I knew my career was over. Then I got up, said nothing to the coach, and kept playing.”

    The accident left the entire right side of his body partially paralyzed, and Gray, unwilling to acknowledge the end, became a left-handed player. “Luckily, I’m [naturally] left-handed,” he said, although his resulting condition would take its toll on him by the end of the season. Gray explained that he had gone to college solely to play football as the only freshman starter in New England’s Independent Division 3. In the permanent, jarring absence of the sport that had first saved him, then ruined him, he lost all motivation to finish his education. Gray came home and went to work at a dry cleaner’s.


    In May 2011, after Gray crossed the stage at Albertus Magnus College to receive his diploma, the first thing he did was hold it skyward. Absent from the audience was his father, who had died of cancer four years ago.

    “That moment changed everything,” he said. “It destroyed me.”

    After his stint at the dry cleaner’s, Gray had been flitting between jobs, eventually entering the security business when a friend pointed out his size would be an asset in that industry. Still, he recalled a promise to his father to complete his education. Eleven months after his father’s death, Gray enrolled at Albertus Magnus. He received his associate’s degree in business management from its New Dimensions program, which allows students to simultaneously pursue their careers and attend school.

    He chose to continue his studies at Arizona State University last year, but had to return home after developing soft-tissue sarcoma, losing the entire left side of his chest in surgery. Back in New Haven, he sought work in security once more, learning about an opening at the YUAG. Gray impressed with his friendliness and excitement for the job, said Joshua Ramirez, his current supervisor, and he was hired.

    In the six months Gray has been at the YUAG, his excitement has only bloomed. “People tell me, ‘You should be a tour guide!’”, he said, though he has no plans to apply.

    Gray doesn’t think his position at the New Haven Venom will require him leaving the gallery, “but if it does, it does,” he said. Then he paused, seeming to reconsider. “I don’t know. … I like it here. I like everything about this place.”


    Ramirez said his staff dissuades the guards from overstepping their responsibilities as security agents. “We don’t want to infringe on our [visitors’] experience,” he added.

    But visiting an art gallery is in itself an infringement — on expectations. The experience of viewing art is necessarily a displacement of assumptions about color, perspective, form, composition. Verisimilitude, even in the exact sketch of a subject’s plump form or a gnarled tree branch, is only ever a coincidence. If in art audiences sought only the quotidian, the seen and foreseen, creators might set down their tools; real life would suffice. Art succeeds most when it challenges us.

    At the YUAG, the gauntlet has been thrown. There, art is a crystal pomegranate that becomes a grenade. From 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., art is a security guard named Jerry Gray who becomes a storyteller.