Dedicated to both the visual and performing arts to inspire visitors to their lovely water front gallery, the Westport Arts Center is hosting a very special exhibition, Scents and Soles through September 7. Scents & Soles features 230 watercolor paintings by renowned photorealist painter, Robert Cottingham and 23 witty shoe sculptures by Nina Bentley.
Robert Cottingham has been an icon in the world of photorealism. He received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1974-75 and had a retrospective at the Smithsonian Museum in 1986.
Four years ago Cottingham turned his attention to the new subject matter of perfume bottles. "In my search for gifts over the years, perfume departments became standard destinations. At some point I began to envision these containers as subjects for a small exhibition that I would title, "TWENTY-FIVE SCENTS." Because of its fluidity and clarity, watercolor became the obvious choice of medium. I eliminated the product labels from the artworks in order to focus completely on the bottles' incredible range of designs... what began as a series of 25 watercolors has grown to 350 watercolors...and counting."
Much has been said of Cottingham's photorealist paintings, however it is easy to apply these thoughts to his perfume watercolors. Cottingham once remarked, "The more I drill down into these shapes, the distinctions between the image and the abstracted forms tend to merge into a cohesive 'thingness.' I can't really say more beyond realizing that each object possesses its "essence.
Nina Bentley is an assemblage artist who has lived in Westport for 21 years. She has exhibited in Europe and America, and has been featured in several juried shows including Art of the Northeast, the Mattatuck Museum, the Katonah Museum, the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, and the Westport Arts Center on several occasions. In 2005 she had a solo exhibition at Silvermine Art Guild and was also chosen by Barney's New York in 2004 to be their featured artist in the annual show "Madison Avenue: Where Fashion Meets Art" in 2004. In 2001 she was a New/Now artist at the New Britain Museum of American Art, which has one of her large assemblage sculptures in their permanent collection.
Nina describes her work as being "conceptual in nature and concerned with social issues." She continues, "From early childhood I have been moved both by aesthetics and the human condition, not only matters affecting me personally but those evident on a broader social scale. I create art in order to gain some perspective on the world around me while trying to retain a sense of humor. In short, my work can be seen as multi-dimensional social commentary."
The Gallery is open Mon.- Thurs. 10 - 5, Fri. 10-2 and Sat. & Sun. 12 - 4. The Westport Arts Center is located on 51 Riverside Ave. in Westport. For more information http://westportartscenter.org/