Three exhibits to see right now at the Lyman Allyn Museum

Pati Hill's, 'Alphabet of Common Objects,' c. 1975-79, 45 black and white copier prints (Courtesy Estate of Pati Hill)
Pati Hill's, "Alphabet of Common Objects," c. 1975-79, 45 black and white copier prints (Courtesy Estate of Pati Hill)

"Pati Hill: Photocopier, A Survey of Prints and Books (1974-83)"

Pioneering a photocopy machine as an artistic medium is easier said than done, though artist and writer/poet Pati Hill proved that it was possible in the 1970s. Closeting herself away in IBM’s New York City office for weekends at a time, Hill would work with an IBM Copier II machine, adjusting its settings and spooning in extra toner until the images looked just right.

This exhibition considers the first phase of Hill's cross-disciplinary art, much of which was created in Stonington, where Hill was a resident from 1957 to 1989. Hill also owned an antique shop in Mystic.

A wall of some of her early images captured in a series titled "Alphabet of Common Objects" — 45 photocopies of everyday objects ranging from hair brushes to scissors — welcomes viewers into “Pati Hill: Photocopier, A Survey of Prints and Books (1974-83)." Those items, as Hill has manipulated them, now look otherworldly as she asks how objects, or a once living animal, a building, or a photograph, can communicate and take on new meanings with time.

Take Hill’s exploration into photocopying clothes, for example. Zippers, seams, lace and buttons are suddenly striking after going through Hill’s photocopy process, giving a new perspective of the details we see and often ignore every day.

These are just some of the ideas and themes that Hill experiments with in her art, making the point that art doesn’t have to be only about artistic talent and aesthetics alone, but also about the intentions that go into making it.

The show, a traveling exhibition organized by the Arcadia University Art Gallery, also touches on Hill’s writing and poetry. Visitors can flip through her books laid out on a table and can listen to her book "Impossible Dreams" through headphones.

Before moving to Stonington, Hill also lived in New York City, where she socialized with friends such as photographer Diane Arbus and Nancy Christopherson (the wife of acclaimed New York City art dealer Richard Bellamy), according to Judith Stein, author of "Eye of the Sixties." Hill’s third husband, a French gallerist named Paul Bianchini, was known for bringing attention to postwar artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg. Later, Hill moved to France, inspiring much of her later work.

"On Another Note"

Before walking into "On Another Note: The Intersection of Art and Music," which is located in the McKee, Stamm North & Stamm South galleries of the museum's second floor, you can hear the cacophony of sounds coming from within: Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" plays on repeat; a twinkling music box pierces the air; an ambient, indecipherable white noise hums underneath. The show, which takes on the broad theme of how music can affect art, features dozens of pieces in a multitude of mediums, made by artists from around the world — a large portion from Cuba.

Curated by local independent curator and art collector Alva Greenberg, the show is her third officially curated exhibit. In 2016, Greenberg showed a form of this exhibition at Artspace New Haven for the International Festival of Art and Ideas, creating a platform to eventually expand her show to the Lyman Allyn.

Though "On Another Note" is a more generalized take on how music and art can come together, Greenberg has managed to find artists who have specifically meditated on that subject, creating thought-provoking works as a result. Some pieces on display are visually arresting, such as Ellen Priest's painting that features broad, expressive strokes of vibrant colors painted while listening to Stefon Harris' "Brown Belle Blues." Other works, such as Kurt Steger's geo-science piece "Scribing the Void/Umpire Rock with East Score" (a traced topography of a boulder transcribed into musical notes), will take more time and contemplation to understand.

Undercutting all this seems be another theme — that of music's power to transport us to another time and place, even if that place hasn't been experienced personally.

An installation piece by Whitfield Lovell features dozens of antique transistor radios stacked one on top of the other — their scratchy recordings play out to the room, bringing the viewer back to another era. Another installation by Ana Flores, "Havana Dancers," combines shadow visuals of a couple dancing to Cuban jazz piano music. The piece manages to elicit a feeling of being in a 1950s Cuba. In short: this exhibition is one that can only be experienced.

"The Coral Reef Project"

The exhibition, "The Coral Reef Project," simply combines education with art. Curated and created by Tekla Zweir, chair of the art department at the Williams School in New London, the show seeks to convey the beauty and fragility of coral reefs and its ecosystem with an understanding of its worldwide decline.

Zweir says that, as an educator and artist/sculptor, she was fascinated with not only creating coral-inspired sculpture but also with wanting to use that art to educate her students about the importance of coral itself. Her original interest in replicating the species through sculpture eventually turned into an almost "obsessive fascination" prompting her into a years-long research escapade leading her from Mystic to Australia to observe coral reefs in aquarium and real-life settings.

A wall of Zweir's glazed terracotta pieces, representing roughly 50 different species of coral, stands out. The pieces take on bizarre and delicate forms, highlighting the ephemeral nature of coral. Other works include Zweir's oil paintings, encaustic paintings (which were made to replicate "aerial views" of coral reefs), and plaster relief sculptures.

Also on display is a live tropical coral aquarium on loan from New London's Credabel Coral Lab, informative materials presenting coral facts, and a video of a deep sea coral expedition from the Ocean Exploration Trust.

m.biekert@theday.com

Ana Flores', 'Havana Dancers,' 2004 (Courtesy Ana Flores)
Ana Flores', "Havana Dancers," 2004 (Courtesy Ana Flores)
Tekla Zweir’s “Coral Garden,” 2016 (Courtesy Tekla Zweir)
Tekla Zweir’s “Coral Garden,” 2016 (Courtesy Tekla Zweir)

If you go

 

WHAT: "Pati Hill: Photocopier, A Survey of Prints and Books (1974-83)" runs through March 4.

"On Another Note" runs through March 11.

"The Coral Reef Project" runs through April 15.

WHERE: Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams St., New London

HOURS: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. and 1-5 p.m. Sun.

ADMISSION: Adults, $10; seniors and students (over 18), $7; students under 18, $5; active military personnel, $7; children under 12, free

CONTACT: (860) 443-2545, www.lymanallyn.org

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