Photo of storm damaged Milford home featured in Westport Arts Center exhibit

house-at-beachIt’s said you can’t go home again. But artists are trying to draw out the many feelings associated with being there in the current exhibit at the Westport Arts Center.

While photographer Timothy Pyle kayaked along the Milford coast a few weeks ago, he came upon a house that seemed to be tentatively balancing on one of its corners. He was not certain if the damage had been left last October by Hurricane Sandy, or had been more recently inflicted.

“I was struck by the fact that it was still left in such disrepair,” Pyle said.

And, because it was something Pyle “found interesting,” he took a photo of it.

Pyle’s image, “Storm,” is on display in Home Sweet Home, an exhibit at the Westport Arts Center through Sunday, Nov. 10.

Pyle said he often will randomly shoot images that capture his attention while he is engaged in other activities. He didn’t set out to look for a photo to submit to WAC’s juried exhibit, but Pyle quickly realized Storm would be a good fit for the theme.

“It was really a pure coincidence,” he said.

A professional photographer, Pyle and his wife, Amy, are co-owners of Light Blue Studio, a graphics and design business. They live in Fairfield with their 10-year-old son.

Pyle’s work has been included in other exhibits at WAC. He has also recently shown his photographs at the Southport Library and the Fairfield Library.

Dr. Jennifer Gross, chief curator and deputy director of curatorial affairs at deCordova Museum, the juror for Home Sweet Home, selected 47 from 200 submissions. There are a variety of mediums, such as printmaking, painting, drawing, assemblage, installations and even film, included in the exhibit, said WAC’s Visual Arts Director Helen Klisser During.

“In looking at the art, Jennifer is very thoughtful and she’s very disciplined,” During said. “All of the work had to be within the required size, and theme was key. She really was looking for work that was authentic to the theme, and she really wanted to feel the presence of the theme.”

In creating the charcoal rendering Memento — Summer Rental, Milford artist Alanna Fagan drew upon her memories of family vacations at “a very special summer house in Nantucket.”

“It was ‘a home away from home’,” Fagan said. “It brought back wonderful memories about being in this special place for a few weeks in the summer.”

In her artist’s statement for Home Sweet Home, Fagan wrote, “Memento — Summer Rental is a study of the living room in a rented house that had everything one could want in a borrowed island house — French doors looking out over fields to distant sea views, an old upright piano to play, old wicker furniture — in short, a place that had housed many families over time, full of untold stories and mysterious events.”

Fagan has previously used “the interior” as the subject of her art. Although she submitted a charcoal drawing for this show, she is known for her exquisite paintings.

“She’s a strong and well-respected painter,” During said.

Fagan often shows her work at Silvermine Guild of Artists and the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk. She has also been in exhibits at the Central Falls Gallery in New York and Galerie du Musée in Paris.

Whereas Fagan’s Memento — Summer Rental evokes a sentimental feel of about happy times spent in a lovely vacation home, Duvian Montoya’s flat, stark painting, Empty Pages, depicts the exact opposite. Instead of a room chock-full of cozy memories, Montoya’s work emits a cold detachment, almost as if the room is contrived, such as one might find in the pages of an interior design catalog. He encourages this effect by placing letters near each piece of furniture.

“It’s almost like we’re living a life with paint by numbers,” During explained. “This is the antithesis of ‘home sweet home.’ It’s got the look of a home, but it’s very flat. It’s not personal.”

Duvian, a native of Norwalk, completed two large public art projects for the cities of Norwalk and New Haven in 2012. The installation of a mural he created for the Norwalk Public Library is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 23.

A graduate of New York City’s School of Visual Arts, Montoya studied in Europe and New Mexico. His work has recently been shown at the Kyung-In Museum of Art in South Korea, Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Gallery 707 in Santa Fe, N.M., H. Pellham Gallery Curtis Gallery at the New Canaan Library, and Gallery Edel in Japan.

The work of artist Tina Munshani, of Easton, is also part of Home Sweet Home.

The Westport Arts Center, at 51 Riverside Avenue, Westport, is open to the public free of charge. Gallery hours are 10 to 5 Monday through Thursday; 10 to 2 Friday; and noon to 4 Saturday and Sunday.

Additional information is available at 203-222-7070 or westportartscenter.org.

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