Loft artists bring variety to library show

With 19 participating artists, Wilton Library’s newest display of art — Loft Artists Association Exhibition — will range from paintings to mixed media to photography covering a wide range of topics.
The show, with close to 65 pieces, opens Friday, Feb. 1, from 6 to7:30, with a reception that is free and open to the community. It will be on display through Friday, Feb. 22.
The association is in its 41st year and is probably the oldest art cooperative in Fairfield County, former executive director Ellen Gordon told The Bulletin, which is the media sponsor for the show. Established in the 1970s, “it was quite the scene” then, she said. The group has moved from building to building over the years as gentrification moved in and rents escalated to its present home at 575 Pacific Street, where there are 14 studios and two exhibition galleries that are used for workshops and open studio events.
Most of the 41 members work elsewhere, either at home or in other locations, Gordon said, but since it’s a co-op, they work together to run the galleries and art shows. Members must apply to belong.
“We want [members] with a track record of exhibiting work and who consider themselves professional artists, although most people have day jobs unless they are retired,” she said.
Although the exhibition at the library will be mostly paintings, what’s different, she said, “is the subject matter. Everyone works in a different style.”
That is actually by design. When new members apply, she said, they look for “people who work in different genres. It makes it more lively and exciting to see people who see the world differently.”
Some of the styles represented include impressionism, cubism, landscapes, cityscapes, encaustic, and political commentary. There is also one member who works in underwater photography.
Gordon described her own work as figurative and figurative abstraction.
“The artwork itself is the result of a searching process — finding the shapes and lines in both the figure and transcribing those lines into contemporary portrait compositions,” she said.
Nature’s influence
One of the artists exhibiting is Maria Friscia of Riverside, who keeps her studio at the Pacific Street building. “It’s my sanctuary,” she said.
Born in Italy, Friscia said she has always been interested in nature and drawing. She came to this country with her parents when she was 12. Although she has an M.F.A., her first career was in finance. After taking time off to be at home with her children, Friscia went into real estate, but her mind “was always going to art,” she said.
When her children were grown and out of the house, “I realized it’s a good time to get that passion going again,” she said. Her first painting submitted to the Stamford Art Association’s Faraway Places show won first prize.
“I felt validated and it gave me encouragement,” she said.
Friscia works primarily in acrylics but also oil. While her earlier work is impressionistic, she has been adding more texture as of late. She also enjoys photography.
Friscia, whose website is, likes to enter shows with different organizations because it “pulls me into something different, out of my comfort zone. It’s pushes me. It is a great feeling.”
Being from Sicily and having also lived in the Caribbean, she enjoys looking at water. One of her entries into the library show, Summer Breeze, is the result of a “particular moment in summer when the winds are blowing and I see the ocean. I painted by memory and the feeling I experienced.”
Frisica said her work “is an expression of my concept of nature, although not realistically. I have sacrificed detail to improve composition. It’s not the description that’s important, but the feeling of a painting,” she said. “It allows me to experiment with color and design. It gives me the freedom to do that.”
Other artists in the show include Claudio Altesor, Anna Badini, Margot Bittenbender, Rita Ghandour, Rosa Colón, Lisa Hillman, Catherine Horan, Yuko Ike, Joanie Landau, Paul Larson, Barbara Mathis, Lina Morielli, Jeffery Nelson, Maura Smotrich, Rebecca Stern, Julliette Tehrani, and Pierrette Wagner.
The Loft Artists Association gallery is open every weekend, except holiday weekends, from 1 to 4:30. Exhibitions change every five weeks. It mounts one open juried show a year to which non-members may apply. The organization also offers low-cost summer art programs on Saturday mornings for children, and in March there are free drawing events for adults on two weekends.