Coming back to art, Trace Burroughs curates
Art X 8: Visions & Revelations, which will open at the Carriage Barn in New Canaan with a reception on Feb. 11 from 4 to 6 pm., had its genesis with Trace Burroughs of Redding. He was interested in an opportunity to show more of his work, as he works in three distinct styles.
“In a usual exhibit,” he said, “an artist can usually show only two or three pieces. At an opening for another show at the Carriage Barn, I overheard someone say ‘We rent out our place…’ I thought I would check into it as a lark, but realized with a group of people splitting the cost, it was quite reasonable — and each of the eight artists will get 33 feet of wall space; that’s a lot of space.”
The eight participating artists — Nina Bentley, Michael Brennecke, Miggs Burroughs, Arpád Krizsán and Dan Long of Westport, and Trace Burroughs of Redding, Nancy Moore of Ridgefield and Sue Benton of Stratford — will present a broad spectrum of work in varied genres. Classical guitarist Glenn Roth will perform background music for the event opening.
The exhibition will continue Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., and Wednesday through Friday, Feb. 15–17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Trace Burroughs said he found the experience of curating a show “challenging and exhilarating.”
When it came to inviting others to join him, he said, “I wanted the types of works and styles to be varied, but I knew I had to have my brother Miggs, a well-known artist who will be showing his lenticular work. Three years ago, when I wanted to get back into doing artwork, he was very supportive; he guided me, made introductions and I started to get into shows. Several of the other artists are part of the Collective at the Westport Arts Center, a place with so many talented and supportive artists.
“Nina Bentley is an assemblage artist who does sculptural and whimsical things; Michael Brennecke is an abstract painter whose work with texture and shapes I find very appealing. Arpád Krizsán photographs a variety of subjects and Dan Long creates detailed pen and ink drawings of nature that might include faces in tree trunks and the like.
“Nancy Moore,” he continued, “is a multimedia artist, and following the theme of transformation will be works showing chameleons and women. And as a person who likes vivid colors, I was drawn to the work of Sue Benton who photographs primarily outdoor structures, often with worn surfaces, and gives them bright, saturated colors.”
The Burroughs brothers grew up in Westport surrounded by arts and artists; their father Bernie was a men’s fashion illustrator and commercial artist and their mother Esta assisted at the Remarkable Book Shop for many years.
At the age of 10, one evening while their parents were out, Trace started playing with his brother’s model airplane paints in an abstract way. When their parents returned, “my dad got excited by what I did, framed the works and encouraged me to do more. He showed his friends and started putting my work in shows, and people bought them. Between the ages of 10 and 15 I sold more than 300 paintings.”
It was a heady time for the youth. “We went to Europe and Mexico, I was on game shows, including Video Village hosted by Monte Hall, Make a Face and Yours For a Song. I even had a girlfriend.”
But like many teens in the sixties, he was also drawn to music and after taking up the drums at 13, “I was more interested in being in a band.” He lost interest in creating art a couple of years later, and let it sit until early his 20s when his brother thought it would be a great idea to do a family show, featuring the work of the two brothers and their father.
“I was at a loss for what to do, so I decided to go big and create a few things that were really quite pretentious,” he said, “and at the show, one of my friends called me out on it. I realized at that moment that I could never again show art that I wasn’t proud to stand next to, and it wasn’t until three years ago that I figured out what kinds of art I wanted to do.”
He has also stayed with music, but now more as a singer; for the last two years he has had a weekly gig at the Horseshoe Café in Southport where he performs primarily classic rock numbers with a group.
After a varied career as a graphic artist and writer, which included a stint on the Nickelodeon show Total Panic where he also did voiceover work, Burroughs reflected on his early success and thought “maybe I was meant to be an artist … but I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
Focusing on art again and using the skills he had developed for his work, he began using Photoshop as his medium. Always drawn to color and shape as a digital artist, he developed three styles: surrealist; what he calls glam pop — using closeups of 60s female icons such as actress Brigitte Bardot and supermodel Jean Shrimpton presented in a Pop Art style — and geometric, most of which are printed on metal. Many of the works he will be displaying in Art X 8: Visions & Revelations are 24 by 36 inches.
Last year he adapted one of his Surrealist works of a woman’s head titled Enlightenment by adding a joint and smoke and submitted it to California-based Natural Cannabis Company for its third High Art competition and won, beating out more than 14,000 other entries.
The Carriage Barn Arts Center at Waveny Park is at 681 South Avenue in New Canaan.