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Artist Cary Smith curates an exhibition featuring 40 leading contemporary artists
Curator and artist Cary Smith speaks to a crowd of people at the opening reception. Photo by Nick Artymiak.
NEW BRITAIN, CONN.- This One’s Optimistic: Pincushion features the paintings, drawings, and wall constructions of 40 of America’s leading contemporary artists (from emerging to well established), whose work leans heavily toward abstraction. Many of the artists have several pieces in the show and the selections are hung salon style, in one room. The experience, says curator Cary Smith, “will be a rich, dense, complex visual array of many different sorts of abstraction, all mashed up, but ultimately living well together.” The goal of each artwork is to challenge, push limits, and not be immediately easy to understand, while still being smart, warm, human, and optimistic.

This One’s Optimistic: Pincushion includes varied forms of hard edge geometric abstraction, non-objective abstraction, painterly abstraction, and metaphorical abstraction. From loose gestural mark making to obsessive detail-oriented work, from minimalist to maximal, from quiet to raucous and intense, the idea of range and variation is a central theme.

Cary Smith has long been interested in mashing seemingly differing entities together to try to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Similar to the cassette mixed tapes he often made for friends in the 70s and 80s, which often combined wildly disparate sorts of music, abruptly shifting from track to track. As a painter himself, he continues the practice to this day, by painting numerous sorts of seemingly unrelated works simultaneously. Like in many works by Van Gogh or Picasso, Smith believes that “red becomes even redder when placed next to the right green.”

Smith also believes there is a heightened collective awareness that we share due to the immediate exchange of digital information among us. As one sits in front of their computer, he or she can view art from all over the world in short bits of time. This exhibition is a snippet of that world for all to view in real time and in real space. The show will be up through September 14, 2014 at the New Britain Museum of American Art.






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