By SUSAN DUNNE, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
11:45 AM EDT, June 17, 2014
The sculpture gallery of the Slater Memorial Museum, on the grounds of Norwich Free Academy, is all about men and women of ancient eras. But go through the doors into the Converse gallery and you have entered the land of the beasts.
"The Animal Heart" features 140 works from 30 artists, most from Connecticut. A whole menagerie is here: dogs, cats, fish, birds, wolves, cows (lots of cows), horses, sheep, llamas, zebras, lambs, octopi, lions, tigers, snakes, giraffes, elephants, bison. There are imaginary animals — Felix the cat, Chumley — and ancient animals, including a carved wooden dinosaur and a sculpted white marble trilobite.
"Some of the work is more picturesque and sentimental," said curator Vivian Zoe. "Others are more political, almost grotesque and in-your-face, commenting on the way humans interact with animals violently. We eat them; we hit them with our cars."
Among the latter are "It Didn't Belong Here Anyway," a moose made of sticks and burlap and painted with a target by Randall Nelson of Willington, and the pencil drawing "Trapped Coyote Snarling" by Jackie Skrzynski.
Other standouts are the funny Frog Wire Sculpture by Timothy Kussow of Mansfield; contemplative photos by Ardie Harrison of Waterford; a charming alabaster pig, "Porkbellyboarding," by Josie Dellenbaugh of Glastonbury; and work by husband-and-wife artists Barbara and James McKie of Old Lyme. She creates wildlife quilts — her "Iguana Headache" is especially striking — and he sculpts with marble, limestone and bronze, including an adorable pileup of two prairie dogs.
But the artist stealing the show is Dina Brodsky, who contributes six small but astonishingly detailed photorealistic oils of a crumbling house ominously filled with birds.
"ANIMAL HEART" will be at Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich Free Academy, 305 Broadway in Norwich, until Aug. 10. Details: www.slatermuseum.org.
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