THE VELVET MILL ARTIST SHOW: NEW WORKS
THE VELVET MILL
22 BAYVIEW AVENUE
THROUGH FEBRUARY 10, 2018
By Tom Soboleski
The quintessential fishing village of Stonington, tucked in the southeast- most corner of Connecticut, has a stalwart history, including repelling a bombardment by the British Navy during the War of 1812. Its 21st century incarnation embraces the arts in an emphatic way. More than 25 studios hosting an array of artists have a home in The Velvet Mill, a defunct factory that for more than a century manufactured world-class quality velvet fabrics.
On a balmy mid-October Friday evening, an enthusiastic crowd perused the opening of a show of new artwork by the Velvet Mill artists. From tried and true landscapes to provocative political art, all styles and tastes were on display.
Artists throughout history have reacted to events swirling around them, and 2017 provides fertile fodder to express the anxiety that many people are feeling. The current climate has driven Tim Love, a man with a long perspective on history, to produce provocative political works. The passion and warning attributed to red seems perfectly suited to his “Election Debate” painting, which depicts four faces with vivid orange-red complexions surrounded by more red.
What’s fascinating is that Love began the painting in August 2015, before the eventual candidates were even known. “This was a painting that did not happen consciously,” Love says. “It wasn’t sup- posed to be anyone in particular.” But it evolved through Love’s subconscious over its two-year creation.
After spontaneously throwing down some “fast, aggressive brush strokes of vivid color and cartoon-like facial expressions,” he put the painting aside for the winter. He didn’t return to it until September 2016, after the Democratic and Republican conventions. He was startled to recognize the figures as “sort of Trump-like” and “sort of like Pence. And, low and behold, the lower left character, a woman, had a resemblance to Hillary Clinton.”