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A playful installation brings spectators together at the New Britain Museum of American Art

Aug 10, 2014
NEW BRITAIN, CONN.- The New Britain Museum of American Art welcomes the latest NEW/NOW artist, Bob Gregson, and his participatory exhibition Space to Maneuver with an opening reception on Sunday, July 27, 2-3:30 p.m. Gregson harnesses humor to gently draw people into his sculptures and installations and provides opportunities for interactions: rolling on your back, turning panels, or rearranging objects, alone or with others who may be total strangers. Responding to the lack of intimate social interactions in today's technology-saturated culture, he strives to use art to create situations that bring people together in a shared experience.
The artist demonstrates how Spin Cycle makes different color combinations that look different to our eye with simple movement.

Each viewer of Space to Maneuver is an active contributor to the exhibition. In Bicker Booth, for example, two people are prompted to become actors by theatrically interpreting phrases from a Rolodex of common gripes, aphorism or sarcasms. This stage for a "mock argument" embodies the artist's fascination with social dynamics - "the fact that people are never listening to each other when they talk or that we say the same things all the time." In At Every Turn, participants navigate a set of turnstiles, disrupting each other's path or working together to form different phrases from the words at the end of each turnstile.

Bob's philosophy is as direct as his work. As he explains, "I believe an artwork is absorbed and filtered through one's life experiences. We respond to the colors, shapes and images that awaken unconscious connections. I like to play in the hazy territory between an artwork and the public. His approach follows the legacy of art movements that have challenged the definition of art, including Dada, Fluxus, Happenings, Conceptual art, as well as Minimalism. As Gregson explains, "The basic message is that art can be serious but not sacred . . . I also enjoy the idea that the work is never actually completed but continually reinterpreted and refreshed through those who encounter it."

Robert (Bob) Gregson received a B.F.A. from the Hartford Art School and an M.F.A. from The Art Institute of Chicago. His early education started academically with artist Carroll N. Jones, Jr. and Pulitzer Fellowship recipient Rudolph Zallinger. Early in his career he worked at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York installing exhibits by Josef Albers, Claes Oldenburg, Ellsworth Kelly, Marisol and others. Today, Gregson integrates conceptual art, installation, games, architecture and graphic imagery in his sculptures and installations. His work has been exhibited at the Capitol Children's Museum in Washington D.C., the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, and many other prestigious art museums and galleries. He studied game theory and applied his experience, creativity, and knowledge to large-scale public projects such as the Hartford Art Organization, Sidewalk, the grand 350th birthday celebration of New Haven, and the festive First Night bash, also in New Haven.

Gregson has also been the artistic director for hundreds of public events that he calls "situations"-mixing community participation with large-scale inflatable sculptures, scaffolding, mazes and theatrical lighting. In recent years he has focused on intimate works that challenge the boundaries between artist and viewer. As a teacher he directed the art classes at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, taught at the Young Artists Studio in Chicago, the University of New Haven, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of Hartford. He has lectured at Yale University as well as served as keynote speaker at many conferences including First Night International. Bob is the author and illustrator of several books and has presented numerous workshops dealing with art and participation. He is a Silvermine Guild Artist in New Canaan, Connecticut.

[From Art Daily]
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