Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury has four new shows on the walls: abstract works by James Biederman, realistic paintings of industrial components by Robert Cottingham, old-fashioned winter scenes by Linda Nelson and ceramic creations by Ann Mallory and Mindy Horn.
The showstopper piece of the four exhibits is "Chorus," a wall-mounted sculpture by Horn, who also is the museum's paper conservator. In cream-colored clay, Horn has created what could be seen as an abstract riff on a Mayan calendar. Thirty-six plates form a thick ring around a central, round plate, each concentric ring garnished with a variety of enhancements: uneven surfaces, tiny spheres, toothpick-shaped filaments. The circular sculpture, three-and-a-half-feet wide and tall, is an elegant study in textures, seemingly both fragile and indestructible.
Horn shares the gallery with the "memory stones" and bulb forms by Mallory.
Downstairs, Cottingham, who lives in Newtown, found inspiration from brackets and hinges found inside machines. He isolated the pieces and re-created them in large-scale, vibrantly colored oils on canvas, setting each piece against a contrasting color background.
Across the lobby in The Lab gallery, Biederman's layered, brightly hued abstractions have dynamic gesturing and dynamic titles such as "Zing!" and "Amazonian."
In the lobby are paintings with a retro feel, by Linda Nelson. The self-taught Woodbury artist, who died in 2011, created sentimental, folksy scenes from a small-town winter, in the style of Grandma Moses.
Next to the tree, until mid-January, is an intriguing holiday display. In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of President Truman signing the proclamation to end the hostilities in World War II, the museum has decorated a tree with World War II-era ornament and presents. The round Christmas balls use paper hangers, because during the war all metal was assigned to the war effort. Around the tree are a fun array of items such as a ration booklet, a war map, a milk bottle, books with titles such as "A Yankee Flier in North Africa," a bazooka game.
EXHIBITS OF WORK BY ROBERT COTTINGHAM, LINDA NELSON, MINDY HORN, ANN MALLORY and JAMES BIEDERMAN will be at Mattatuck Museum, 144 West Main St. in Waterbury, until March 12. The Christmas tree will come own in mid-January. mattatuckmuseum.org.