A challenge of Greater Hartford's established arts community has been to find ways to speak to new audiences, namely young people and a population that is ethnically and culturally diverse.
One institution that has succeeded is Real Art Ways, an alternative art space that has always been ahead of its time. RAW has been able to reach out to a widening circle of visitors and patrons. It has become a social and cultural magnet, not only in its Parkville neighborhood, drawing people of all ages and interests from the region and beyond.
Its latest achievement is the exhibition of art called "Poza," which runs through January. If you're looking for something interesting and thought-provoking to do to avoid post-holiday letdown, "Poza" is just the thing to lift the spirits.
The work of 31 artists with Polish connections are represented in this show put together by Marek Bartelik, a New York curator and art historian of Polish descent. It is a collaboration between Real Art Ways and the Polish studies department at Central Connecticut State College. You don't have to be Polish or know anything about Poland to enjoy and appreciate these works of art. They are diverse enough to give the show wide appeal.
The eclectic selection includes video presentations, installations, assemblages and photographs, some by famous artists and others by a few just starting out. The artists are from different generations, with some born in the 1930s and others in the 1980s.
Two of the most arresting pieces that exemplify the show's range are Icon Station by Ewa Harabasz of the United States and Skaters NY by Domink Lejman of Poland. Icon Station resembles an ancient altar triptych, but contains brutal images taken from newspapers of the war in Bosnia. In the center panel, where you might expect to see a saint depicted or a portrait of Jesus, is the shocking image of a war-ravaged man and child framed in the cross-hairs of a weapon.
Skate NY is on the opposite end of the gravity scale, a whimsical wall-projected film loop of skaters in Rockefeller Center making their way around and around the ice. It carries a fascination YouTube fanatics will understand, especially when one skater provides drama by falling ignominiously while the other skaters ignore him.
This show is accompanied by a film series, lectures, artist talks, discussions and social events. It's an ambitious undertaking that RAW has pulled off with its usual panache.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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