Sunday, September 10, 2017

#IBelieveInWaterbury and The Valley Girls

#IBelieveInWaterbury is the title of a new exhibit at the Mattatuck Museum, on view until December 3. The art is installed throughout the building, rather than being condensed into a single space. The result is that visitors find themselves on a sort of treasure hunt, looking for artwork inspired by Waterbury throughout all three floors (plus two mezzanine stairwell levels, a rooftop, and the front lobby).

The museum spent several months recruiting artists from near and far to participate, arranging special tours of Holyland, Rose Hill, and several churches to help inspire the artists. The final submissions were sifted through by a trio of jurors, who wound up selecting the work of 40 artists for the show. Below are some of my favorites.

The exhibit's introductory panel includes an essay by artist Jay Kaplan, who had never considered Waterbury before hearing about the call for artists. Kaplan at first, as an outsider, was dismissive of Waterbury, thinking of it as one of "the country's worst cities." Then, as he spent time here, just as so many others have done, he realized that this is a remarkable place. In his words:
"Civic commitment in Waterbury is not a lofty or abstract concept. Waterbury's strengths are rooted in the webs of local ties that bind together its spiritual institutions, its neighborhoods, and its ethnic enclaves. Within these webs, the citizens of Waterbury do what they can to express their faith, embellish their homes, and defend their communities. The Waterbury they believe in is the people and places they know, the traditions and values they cherish. These strengths are not, in themselves, sufficient to remedy all the city's ills, but they can serve as a foundation for healing and a reason for believing in the city's future."

Elisa Pianka
(photo from Mattatuck Museum social media)

Michael Centrella

Merrill French

From the exhibit label: "The Farrington Building caught my attention -- an old building still maintaining its dignity in a changing world. There it sits, a bit worn, next to a newer one, larger by far with nice clean lines. The new one, however, lies vacant while the Farrington Building still shows signs of life within it. Perhaps a symbol of Waterbury -- still full of life."

Betsy Zenick

From the exhibit label: "For Zenick, being a true Waterburian is being able to dive into diversity."

Thelma Appel

Janet Galasso

Raechel Guest
(because I can't leave myself out of my list of favorites)

The Valley Girls is the title of another exhibit at the museum, on view until November 12. It features three women artists of the Naugatuck Valley. The work of Mally DeSomma fits in well with the #IBelieveInWaterbury exhibit, as she has several Waterbury-inspired paintings. Two in particular, based on historic photos, caught my eye: The Radium Girls and The Nardelli Girls.

Mally DeSomma

Mally DeSomma

Up on the third floor of the museum, I was delighted to discover a series of framed portraits and poems featuring Wise Women of Waterbury, most of whom I'm familiar with, representing the beautiful diversity of this city.

This is a great time to visit the Mattatuck Museum and renew your love for this city. Admission is free for all Waterbury residents (must have valid ID). You can also download and print out a free admission for four museum pass from the Silas Bronson Library website (SBL library card required). If you live in Waterbury, #IBelieveInWaterbury is a must-see exhibit.

1 comment:

MC said...

Hi Raechel -

Nice article. I hope my pastel work from your photo looked well "in the flesh". Thanks for including me in your online review. We are finally back in Connecticut and glad to be. I hope to get over to the Mattatuck as soon as I can and see this exhibit of my "hometown" again.