Arts Interstices

“Connectivity” Connects

As the installation “Connectivity” by R.W.R collaborative gets dismantled from the front window at 760 Chapel Street, a new installation inspired by its precepts prepares for installation.


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The R.W.R. collaborative  is comprised of three Connecticut based artists who work with light, new media and sculpture. Sarah Rohfling brings her expertise in light art, her ability to use tones, hues and shadows. Terrance Regan provides a background in video and new media to engage and challenge viewers.  Brian Walters adds a sculptural dimensionality by using salvaged materials.


On May 25, Brian joined the Grove at its weekly Wine Down for a relaxed and engaging Q&A session. Those who attended opened up with curiosity and enthusiasm about the concept of connectivity and how it animates their experience of co-working.  Jack Heslin of J3D brought some objects he had spent the day 3D printing in a simple plastic called PLA, and a white portrait bust pictured below made from white copier paper on an MCor Iris 3D Printer. The event wrapped up with a mini field-trip downstairs to view the installation, led by Kris Tonski, owner of Fusion Design (pictured with Walters and artwork from another exhibition, Doors of Perception, in background).


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Outside you could see bunches of coiled, multicolored wires and two monitors set up side by side through the front window. A series of images rotated on a 30-second loop, pairing bold words like “HITCH” with familiar images from television and film (e.g. the Simpsons and Caddy Shack) decontextualized to enable multiple readings and layered associations.


“Artists are often trying to compel you to look at things you’ve seen before in a brand new way,” says Elinor Slomba, who curates the Grove Gallery and manages the installations. “When that works, as it does here, the art leverages a sense of purpose within a community” she said, speaking of the R.W.R. collaborative’s work. “Sarah, Terrance and Brian not only brought a glimpse of what goes on in our space to the street-level public, but got coworkers co-dreaming about how they can contribute their own visual explorations.”


Some of those dreams will become actualized when Tonski and Heslin team up next to install an assemblage of 3D-printed original designs in the front window space. The environment they create will become more subtly complex each week as newly-printed objects in various colors are added.


The pair will begin installing their new artwork after July 1st with guidance and assistance from Christina Kane, the Grove’s Director of Culture.  So “Connectivity” continues even as it passes the torch to the next set of collaborators.  Well done, R.W.R. collaborative, well done!

Elinor Slomba: The Grove’s Curatorial Eye

Now here’s a challenge for you: Find the peephole at The Grove. Yes, for all you Grovers who harbor a secret fascination with peepholes but are too proper to indulge your fantasies, you now have dispensation. Go find the peephole and indulge yourself. Telling you exactly where it is would take away the thrill of discovery- and that’s the whole idea behind peepholes, right? It’s a secret. But I will tell you it’s on the second floor.

And just how did The Grove come to have a peephole? Enter: Elinor Slomba.B&W headshot She’s also the person responsible for having Marilyn watch over you as you work and the vines that add such a fun touch of nature outside the Big Bang office and in the downstairs entryway. While Elinor is not the artist who produced these works, she is the person who curated each piece for The Grove’s permanent collection. She is also the founder of Arts Interstices, which just celebrated its fourth year of business, and is dedicated to bridging the spaces (interstices) between organizations and the arts and more traditional businesses by providing a way for them to communicate and use each other’s models to their own advantage.
When Elinor was finishing her B.A. in fine art and cultural anthropology at William and Mary, a career advisor at the college suggested she consider a career in the Foreign Service, an idea that seems to amuse Elinor. It’s easy to see that she would have been well-suited to such a career. Today, instead of helping foreign countries navigate their cultural differences, she helps disparate domains recognize they each have something to offer the other. She’s expert in navigating the ‘between spaces’ and in making associations that may not be obvious at first, but once identified opens a vast array of possibilities.

It’s this associative thinking, a process Elinor describes as “definitely nonlinear,” that Elinor sees as a key tool in curating and that she helps people develop in her series of classes on curation.

“We live in a visual age. People can be energized by nontraditional gallery spaces,” she explains, when asked about curating art for business locations. In her work with The Grove, she realized that the concept of collaboration is a key element of The Grove’s culture.Marilyn9 In keeping with that value, all of the shows she has curated at The Grove have featured more than one artist. Marilyn, the piece above the elevator doors on the second floor, was part of the show Re:Generate – Art Based on Code (co-curated with another Grove member, Brian Monahan). In this piece, a collaborative effort by Dan Gries, Dannielle Kefford and Dan Bernier, the digital eye resolves the oversized pixels (made from pool noodles) to reveal the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe. The high-tech reference of the work, along with the collaborative nature of its inception, makes it uniquely appropriate for The Grove.

The two other permanent pieces, Peephole by Mark Williams, a New Haven-based artist and Climbing Ivy by Giada Crispiels, an Italian artist who completed a year-long residency at Artspace New Haven in 2012, were part of the show Navigate Complexity. Mark's wall piecePeephole is an example of artwork intended to be viewed “an eyeball at a time.” Climbing Ivy was the first piece acquired for The Grove’s permanent collection. Crispiels installed this work specifically for The Grove, constructing the vines and leaves from local newspapers and magazines.WP_000865

In addition to curating art, Elinor offers a 3-part course Open Your Curatorial Eye  for those interested in learning about how curating art and mounting an art exhibition. She is offering her next one at The Grove on January 22

Along with art curation, Elinor is the organizer of the meetup Artful Agilists which holds virtual meetings the first of every month at Through Artful Interstices she offers a range of services including coaching, a variety of training workshops including The Agile Gym™, writes guest blogs and hosts and produces virtual events. Agile is a project management method that differs from the traditional approach in that it stresses collaboration, individual participation and flexible response to dynamic situations. This method was originally designed for software projects but has gained popularity in wider settings. Elinor has adapted this method for her work with her clients.

Arts Interstices clients cross  many time zones in the U.S. and Europe.   Elinor has done projects for the New Haven Museum, Project Storefronts and Citywide Open Studios. Several Grovers participated in the public programs she produced for the New Haven Museum with the theme Connecticut at Work.
Originally from Tidewater, Virginia, Elinor has been in the New Haven area for 14 years and particularly enjoys the sense of civic space she finds in New England. “It just made me feel like I’d won the lottery to be moving up here,” she said. Elinor discovered the Grove through Meetups. “I like the day-to-day practice of being agile,” she says of working at The Grove. “If a client needs something I can’t provide, there’s usually someone in the [Grove] community who can.”