Creative expressions: Daybreak's best art exhibits

"...isms: Unlocking Art's Mysteries" at the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme

It's happened to a lot of people: you hear someone discussing art as an example of a certain "ism" - luminism, perhaps, or social realism - and you're not quite sure exactly what that terms means. This Flo Gris exhibition explored all sorts of those categories, explaining them well and showing fabulous examples. So educational and so cool.

- Kristina Dorsey

'Comic Art Indigene' at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

Comic art isn't likely what first comes to mind when one thinks about Native-American visual art and storytelling, and yet many contemporary native artists use the medium to articulate their views on politics, identity and culture.

This past summer, bold and colorful works by 20 artists were represented in "Comic Art Indigene," an exhibition organized by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Sante Fe, New Mexico. The show was on view for the first time in New England at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center. The fascinating exhibit spanned past and present by including photographs of rock art, ledger art and ceramics with present-day comic and illustrative art. The museum localized the exhibit with work by artists from southeastern Connecticut.

-Amy J. Barry

"DINOTOPIA: Art, Science, and Imagination" at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London

This Lyman Allyn show, which is on view through Feb. 2, examines the artwork of James Gurney, who is the author and illustrator of the famous series of "Dinotopia" books about an island where dinosaurs live in peace with humans. While the intricate paintings were fascinating to see, it was interesting, too, to learn about Gurney's process. He is all about using reality as the basis for his fantasy. He travelled to the Grand Canyon, for instance, before he created Dinotopia's Canyon City. He builds models of buildings and creatures, too (some of which are included in this exhibition), so he can illustrate them all with a strong, accurate sense of three-dimensionality.

- Kristina Dorsey

Poetry of the Wild collaborative art project in downtown New London

As flowers bloomed in early spring in and around New London, so did poetry and visual art, as a result of Poetry of the Wild, a project conceived by Ana Flores, an ecological designer and sculptor. Placed throughout the city-from the public library to public parks-poems were displayed inside boxes made by local artists, fabricated of recycled materials. Included were journals for the public to write their responses to the work and the site.

Flores successfully accomplished her mission, which she said was "to find a way to use the arts to connect people to their landscape."

Suzanne Bartels, director of library and information services at Mitchell College, which participated in the project, may have summed it up best: "It's like blogging in nature; natural social networking."

Poetry of the Wild will culminate in two final showings in 2013 in Groton and Mystic. Information to come at www.mysticarts.org

-Amy J. Barry

Renovations at the Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich

If you haven't seen the new Slater, go. The museum underwent a huge transformation during a year-and-a-half renovation project, and the results are dazzling.

- Kristina Dorsey

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