Celebrating Dance, Photography and Sculpture In a Torrington Gallery

The Winsted Journal, COMPASS
Arts & Entertainment
The Art Scene: Leon Graham

Right: George Balanchine at work; photo; Don Perdue

If you haven’t visited Torrington’s Main Street lately, you’re in for a surprise. Four art galleries, two new restaurants and some delightful new shops, even a bakery, line both sides of the street near the Warner Theater. And more are coming soon.

Nothing better represents Torrington’s artistic renaissance than Five Points Gallery, with its bright, rambling rooms behind sheets of glass that let passersby see the art, inviting them in for a closer look. Financed through donations and run by volunteers, the gallery shows emerging and established area artists.


Now, in honor of Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory’s 45th anniversary, work from Northwest Corner artists Ann Scoville and Don Perdue are being shown in the gallery’s Main Street corner room. Scoville, who died earlier this year at 95, was a longtime supporter of Nutmeg and created many welded steel sculptures of dancers, acrobats and circus performers, all sharing the energy of human body movement. Perdue, early in his career, was a photographer of ballet in New York City.

Perdue’s black-and-white images are intense, often ruminative. A 1976 headshot of Mikhail Baryshnikov, taken during rehearsals for “Other Dances,” the ballet Jerome Robbins made on Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova, catches the dancer serious and pensive. There are two revealing close-ups of Twyla Tharp, and another of her rehearsing her famous “Chapters and Verses” in1979.

A wonderful shot shows George Balanchine, nattily turned out, demonstrating a step during rehearsals for “L’enfant etles Sortileges,” the ballet Balanchine had both made and danced originally in 1925.

Baryshnikov is shown in Robert Joffrey’s 1981 restaging of the original “L’apres Midi d’un Faun,” and he and Natalia Makarova are shot in color for “Other Dances.” (The picture is interesting for Baryshnikov’s youthful radiance and perfect form as he holds the eight years older Makarova aloft.

Perdue has also included a charming image from the “Marigolds” section of “Botanica,” MOMIX’s full-length dance filled with colorful, imaginative, hand-painted costumes. And his black and white photo of leaping Ben Youngstone, the 17 year old who won the Connecticut Dance Alliance gold medal in March and graduated from Nutmeg in May, is pure athleticism caught in midair.

Scoville’s small welded iron sculptures rest on pedestals and hanging wall shelves, while her larger pieces are grouped together in the center of the gallery, like performers in a center circus ring. The small works show how Scoville twisted and torqued her iron into complicated relationships between dancers’ bodies. The figures seem to move as a viewer circles each piece. Her simplest sculptures, mere outlines of ballet positions in iron, are full of energy.

Scoville’s circus performers are wonderful. There’s a lion and his trainer, trapeze artists flying through the air, acrobats. One man balances on top of a pole that rests on another man’s forehead. Another is almost horizontal as he hangs onto his trapeze bar. What fun Scoville must have had making these works.

Perdue’s and Scoville’s works are not alone at Five Points.

In the two other rooms, acrylic paintings by 85 year old Harwinton artist Salvatore Gulino surprise and challenge. Gulino has long been appropriating other artists’ paintings and using them as central to his own new pictures. The Gulino paintings comment humorously and ironically on the older images by placing them in new contexts. Viewers see Holbein’s Henry VIII, his eyes full of excitement, in front of a motel. Domenico Ghirlandaio’s 1488 masterpiece portrait of Giovanna Tournabuoni is copied on a background of iPhone app icons.

Two large Gulino pictures are especially arresting. In “Battle,” one of Paolo Uccello’s three panels depicting the 15th century Battle of San Romano, is painted in front of a Parisian bar cafe. In “Tommy’s Food Store, ”the portion of Johannes Vermeer’s influential “The Art of Painting” showing the artist seated at his easel with his back to us, is repainted against the front of Tommy’s, a long gone Torrington grocery store, with 1980 prices in the window.

The Perdue, Scoville and Gulino show continues at Torrington’s Five Points Gallery, 33 Main St., through Dec. 27. An opening reception will be held Dec. 5 at 5:30 pm. The gallery’s regular hours are Thursday through Sunday,1-5 pm. Call 860-618-7222 or go to http://www.fivepointsgallery.org.