First-place winner, "Mashpee Petition," by Alison DuFlon. Click here to access our online gallery with more photos from the exhibition.
Like beauty, art is often perceived in the eye of the beholder. It was for this very reason that the Stamford Art Association (in association with the Photography Club of Lower Fairfield County) recently commissioned a photographic art exhibit, a special juried exhibit entitled “Stamford Today.”
The exhibit featured photographs taken of the city of Stamford as it currently appears. Part of the reasoning for this exhibit, according to Christine Irvin, co-president of the association, was that the city is — quite literally — a constantly changing environment, and that everyone has essentially a different view of the city. “Everyone has a favorite place in the city, and we all see it differently,” Irvin stated.
According to Irvin, the exhibit not only featured some 75 photos but also brought in a wide diversity of photos. “Photography helps us see what we don’t see. So this show is certain to make us see our familiar hometown — from its seaside landscapes to its busy street corners — in wholly new ways,” she said. The show was juried by Myra Kreiman, a Stamford resident as well as a senior photo editor for “Newsweek.”
The idea for the exhibit grew out of a casual conversation Irwin had with Nancy Zager, the show chairman for the Photo Club of Lower Fairfield County, who suggested that the organizations co-sponsor a photo exhibit. Usually, the Art Association’s shows tend to be mixed media, but “Stamford Today” was designed to be exclusively a photography show to highlight the overlap between the two organizations. Several local businesses and organizations were tapped to provide cash and other prizes for the winners of the exhibit. These businesses included Camera Wholesalers, the Stamford Downtown Special Services District, Labriola Frame & Art Gallery, Parrots and Company, People’s United Bank and the Stamford Art Association itself. “Stamford Plus” magazine was the media sponsor of the event. The only requirement for a photograph to be eligible to enter the contest was that it had to show an image from the territory of the city of Stamford.
The “Stamford Today” photography exhibit ran in May of this year, and its winners were Alison DuFlon, first place, for “Mashpee Petition”; Annie Kosh, second place, for “Ruth”; Robert Zager, third place, for “Dirty Windows at Yale and Town”; and Phyllis Synrich, fourth place, for “Reflections: Stamford on the Move”. Honorable mentions were awarded to: Dona Menton, first HM, for “Time Warp”; and Kirsti Holtan, second HM, for “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”. In awarding the prizes, Kreiman stated, “My thanks go out to not only the Stamford Art Association and the Photo Club of Lower Fairfield County for giving me the privilege of jurying their show ‘Stamford Today’ but also to the many entrants who, through the medium of photography, exhibit a wide range of diverse artistic interpretations and techniques.”
Established in 1971, the Stamford Art Association is a nonprofit organization whose members include painters, sculptors, printmakers and photographers. The association’s gallery is located at 39 Franklin Street in Stamford, and is open not only to members but also the public. The stated mission of the association is to provide a local forum where locally-based artists can exhibit their work to the community and compete in juried shows. Over the years, these annual competitions have attracted prominent jurors from various art institutions in New York and surrounding areas, including the Whitney Museum, the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science, the Museum of Modern Art, as well as other prominent museums in the area.
According to Peter Howard (co-president of the association), the association is good for people who want to keep the arts alive in Stamford, and he feels that the association is doing quite a bit to foster the artistic community within the city. Howard, a photographer, originally came to the association when he exhibited his photographs in a show. He became so enamored by what the association did that he volunteered to help, eventually becoming a board member and then co-president. “Stamford is open to supporting arts although not always financially, although the city does do a good deal to keep the arts alive,” Howard said.
The photo exhibit show, “Stamford Today” is just one of eight or nine shows a year that the association sponsors around Stamford every year. Irving said that they plan eight of the nine shows (six of which are juried), and they like to leave one slot open for a show that can be suggested to mix it up a bit. Some of the other shows include the ninth annual “Reed Marine Show” (May 10 – June 12), the “Stamford’s Art Treasures — Past, Present, and Future” (June 19 – July 17), “Far Away Places” (July 24 – Aug. 21) and the “28th Annual Faber Birren National Color Award Show” (Sept. 28 — Nov. 6), as well as a student show and a “Holiday Art & Crafts” show. The association also hosts an annual fundraiser event that, this year, took place in April. All of the shows are juried, with some of the past jurors coming from Greenwich’s Bruce Museum Silvermine Guild Art Center and the Housatonic Museum.
Each of these shows has differing themes and spotlights different aspects of the city of Stamford or its artistic residents. “The Faber Birren National Color Award Show” is an open juried exhibit that focuses on the distinguished and creative expressive use of color. Birren (1900–1988), a color consultant and an expert on the use of color, wrote 25 books on the subject. “The Faber Birren Color Award Show” has grown from a regional exhibit to one of national scope, encouraging artists in all media. This competition is the only artistic event devoted exclusively to the use of color. This year, the Stamford Art Association celebrates its 28th year of the “Faber Birren Show.” The show is being juried by Nora Rockwell Lawrence, a curatorial assistant for the Museum of Modern Art, in New York.
As the name suggests, the “Far Away Places” art show highlights exotic locales and places while the “Student Show” accepts submissions from students attending Stamford schools, and “Faces and Figures” celebrates the human form. In this show, the contributing artists are encouraged to interpret the human form as they see it best. That is to say, how they would choose to present the human form as seen by the artist. When judging this show, the juror is encouraged to equally consider the measure of creativity, energy and technical skills brought to the piece by the contributing artist.
“The Reed Marine Show” draws attention to the aquatic nature of Stamford’s shoreline by displaying various nautical works celebrating the glories of the sea. This very popular juried show — as are most of the association’s shows — is a multimedia show and includes paintings, sculpture, photography and mixed media representing myriad views of the sea.
Perhaps one of the most ambitious of the association’s show themes is “Stamford’s Art Treasures — Past, Present, and Future.” The show — which takes place over a three-year time span — focuses on the work of Stamford artists spanning the three time periods. Last year, the show featured the work of Stamford artists who had passed away. This year, the exhibit spotlighted the work of Stamford artists who are currently working, while next year’s show will spotlight the work of up-and-coming artists, who are just breaking into the field. “It doesn’t matter if they are young students or are 60 years old,” Howard said. “If they are just breaking in as artists into the community, they are eligible.”
The Stamford Art Association is located at 39 Franklin Street (off Broad Street). The gallery is open Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 3 p.m. Admission is free. For more info, call 203-325-1139 or visit www.stamfordartassociation.org.