Monday, April 27, 2015

Va Va Vroom! The Art of the Vehicle @ the Carriage Barn Arts Center

The Carriage Barn Arts Center celebrates artists’ captivation with the romance, power and styling of motoring vehicles in its Va Va Vroom! The Art of the Vehicle exhibition at its Waveny Park gallery, 681 South Avenue, New Canaan, CT.  The show, on view from Sunday, April 19 through Sunday, June 14, 2015, features contemporary paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures by 35 artists from Connecticut and New York as well as vintage advertising posters, motorcycles and car models.  Curated by Marianne Brunson Frisch, an art and automobile curatorial and public relations professional, the display highlights the reciprocal influence of both realms of creative expression.

The theme of the show was conceived as a way to educate visitors about the rich heritage of Waveny and the original function of the Carriage Barn. 
Waveny is long familiar with vehicles, being embraced by the Lewis Lapham family, who built their home on the 480-acre countryside property in 1912.  The 1895 Carriage Barn, which was restored by the Laphams in 1913, originally housed horses, carriages, and cars.  These included their stylish and expensive French 1903-04 Charron, Girardot et Voight touring car.  Son Jack Lapham, his wife and their four children were pilots, landing their planes on the Waveny fields.  Jack Lapham flew his two-seater Spartan biplane to Waveny from their Texas home in 1928, quite an impressive accomplishment at the time.  The exhibit includes early photographs documenting their feats.  
Automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles and planes are evocative muses for fine artists.  Symbols of freedom and fantasy, emblems of power and beauty, these “rolling sculptures” have sparked our collective imaginations.  Works in all media focus on the various modes of transportation, from the past to the present.  Max Itin’s Fins photographic study of a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado iconizes this symbol of 1950s American automobile design.  Miggs Burrough’s Indian lenticular photograph merges two images that alternate as the viewer passes by, conveying adventures from the motorcycle’s storied past. The masterfully rendered Radial Engine pencil drawing by Andre Junget details the elegant craftsmanship of a vintage airplane.  Alan Sosnowicz and Ken Scaglia draw and paint reverent portraits of cars, spotlighting their signature features.  David Barnett’s fanciful flying contraptions are intricately composed of extraordinary found materials.
The drama of motorcar and motorcycle racing is captured in the graphically charged prints and advertising posters by mid-20th-century French illustrator Geo Ham on loan from Doug Zumbach.  Ham’s dynamic compositions heightened the excitement for motoring and aviation competitions, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Monaco Grand Prix.  The photographer Louis Klemantaski, whose works are archived in the Klemantaski Collection, chronicled the European motor racing circuits from 1936-74.  He strategically positioned himself to capture the height of action, creating photographs that embody the spirit of the sport. 
Vintage motorcycles take the stage with three bikes from the collection of New Canaan-resident Buzz Kanter.  These two-wheeled sculptures include a British 1930s JAP racer, an American 1947 Indian Chief and a 1970s custom “street tracker” Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster.  Together with a 1915 Harley-Davidson motor and early racing posters, these works demonstrate the inventive ingenuity of engineering and design.
Information about the exhibition, symposium and related programs is available at or phone 203-972-1895.

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