Imagination of Illumination
Runs from Dec. 1 to Jan. 5, 2013, Six Summit Gallery, 6 Summit St., Ivoryton, (860) 581-8332, sixsummitgallery.com
Bilbo Baggins is coming to Ivoryton. Well, actually, the artist who created the bestselling graphic novel version of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, David T. Wenzel, is coming. Wenzel lives in the area and teaches at Old Lyme's Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. In the past three years, the academy has cultivated a fruitful relationship with Six Summit Gallery in nearby Ivoryton, which is hosting its third annual holiday art celebration under the banner "Illumination of Imagination," as part of the popular townwide "Ivoryton Illuminations" celebration. The Six Summit show will be juried by Wenzel.
Among his many other feats, Wenzel has worked on The Avengers and Savage Sword of Conan for Marvel Comics and collaborated with Maurice Sendak on the "Little Bear" children's book series. For "Illumination of Imagination," he has selected work by illustrators, sculptors and painters from as far away as Italy and as close at hand as Connecticut. This eclecticism is entirely in keeping with Six Summit Gallery owner Leo Feroleto's philosophy for the homey, storefront space across the street from venerable Ivoryton Playhouse.
"I'm from this area and have gone back and forth between here and New York City over the years," said Feroleto. "This space called for me. It found me; I didn't find it. Our niche is that we don't have a niche. We place photographs next to sculpture next to oils. If that's not how you are supposed to do it, then I know I've done something right."
One of the appeals of Six Summit is their shows are frequent (monthly) and often curated or juried by well-known artists or celebrities. Among its recent successful shows was one whose theme was "Food, Fresco, Farm, and Fotograph" that featured such curiosities as a portrait of chef Jacques Pepin made entirely from rice and beans by Jason Mecier. Another recent show, under the theme "Pink" and benefiting breast cancer research, was curated by TV host Sally Jessy Raphael, who is also an artist and art collector with a home in Old Lyme.
"The food show got a lot of attention because the subject was tactile and simple, a conduit to our animal sides," says Feroleto, who helped get the village's farmers market set up in front of his gallery this year. "We're inclusive and diverse, showing everything from Picasso to Peter Pan. Sometimes certain artists with only one medium are wary of showing in a place like this. Their instincts are naturally inclined against it. Now that we've been open awhile and the quality of work speaks for itself, they are showing with their counterparts."
The main reception for "Illumination of Imagination" will be Dec. 1, from 6 to 10 p.m., coinciding with Ivoryton Illuminations. While the crowd-pleasing occasion will bring countless people into the gallery who'd otherwise not know it existed, Feroleto recommends those who want to just view art and avoid the crowds to come during the show's month-long run.
"The Village gets mobbed during the first Saturday of December, with 5,000 people expected this year," he says. "When they started lighting up the Village for the holidays a few hundred people showed up, but now it's in the thousands and growing, and shuttle buses have to bring people into the center of town because there's just not enough room for cars."
Ivoryton Village businesses are a tight-knit group and Feroleto has cultivated a relationship with neighboring Ivoryton Playhouse, now in its 101st season. A future collaboration between the two venues is in the works.
As it stands, a collaboration of sorts already exists. That is, a bench carved from sugar maple sits smack in the middle of the Six Summit Gallery's main room. This was the bench where Marlon Brando and Katharine Hepburn sat to smoke cigarettes and practice their lines while at the playhouse for a production in 1953.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times