Torrington Stories

January 24: Through an Artistic Mirror

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J TImothy Quirk as envisioned by Karen Rossi

In the second week of January we said goodbye to the family Christmas tree without the pomp and circumstance that brought the lavish decoration into the household. We could have found it appropriate to have some ceremony, a statement of remembrance of favored memories cherished under its lush green branches but instead that Sunday night everyone seemed to be busy and pick up day was Monday so I placed the ornaments, lights and angel tree topper on the table, moved the tree skirt to the side, loosened the bolts that held the trunk steady and carried the grand fir from its place of honor in the living room to the sidewalk in about five and a half minutes. Green and gray needles lay upon the rug especially near the front door where I had squeezed the formerly prized possession through the threshold as if they still laid claim to our home, assuring me that no matter how much I sweep and vacuum I’ll be finding them tracked in the house throughout the year.

With care I packaged the Christmas decorations into their boxes and put them away for the season but one special ornament in particular was placed neatly in the curio cabinet until I could find this moment to write about it…

Last year my sister Maureen contacted my friend, local artist Karen Rossi, and requested a very special personalized “Fanciful Flights” ornament.

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Karen Rossi as depicted by J. Timothy Quirk 2015

Karen Rossi is an exceptional artist whose public works are celebrated in communities across the United States and whose creations are collected and displayed nationally and internationally. Working with metal, Rossi paints in her own fanciful style to create wondrous and imaginative pieces.  Her studio is located in the heart of downtown Torrington where she teaches classes and I was honored when she showcased my Crayon Diary portraits during the Marketplace weeks this past summer. In one such portrait I depicted Karen Rossi herself, taking care to add special details and call outs on my conception just as Rossi does for her work.

Karen Rossi is a committed voice for enhancing the downtown Torrington experience. Rossi helped local galleries band together to form the Torrington Arts Walk initiative last year. Later she assisted in the creation of the Artful Thursdays project helmed at Remember When. She promotes other artists at her venue and tangibly supports other downtown stores and locations. I describe northwest Connecticut as the nutmeg state’s “Moveable Feast” of artists and creatives, and Karen Rossi is notable in that talented community.

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Karen Rossi and J. Timothy Quirk 2015

And so it was during our December Christmas gathering of my extended family in Massachusetts that I opened a present from my sister and found a special ornament Karen Rossi created. It was a depiction of me, in flight as consistent with her fanciful flight work, dressed in a tuxedo with a black tie as the call out to my Black Tie Lunchbox show I create with comedienne KJ Johansen. The figure is shown with white hair that is receding with dignity and a waistline held in by a magical cummerbund that forgives at least twenty extra pounds. Along the arms are four areas for charms of personal significance.

On the first hoop hangs a microphone and theater masks. The microphone has significance as it calls to mind the Black Tie Lunchbox talk show as well as my previous video interview work “60 seconds with J. Timothy Quirk” while the theater masks further call to mind my reviews of local theatrical productions and the fact that I acted in a few of them last year.

On the second hoop hangs a newspaper and a musical note. I love newspapers. My comic strip prints in three daily newspapers and one weekly every week. I love to draw but my work takes on more significance for me in knowing that it is published in newspapers every day (except Sunday). On occasion my arts/entertainment writing can be found in the papers as well. The musical note I’m sure signifies the many musicians I’ve interviewed over the course of Nutmeg Chatter (the arts/entertainment website) but I can see this item as a forward looking artifact as well because I intend to make some music in the next year.

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Each item on the hook represents a facet of J. Timothy Quirk’s interests

The third hoop holds crayons which is perfect as my comic strip is called The Crayon Diary and I created personalized portraits using crayon as one of the mediums.

On the final hoop hangs ballet slippers and a book, signifying my work writing about the Nutmeg Ballet last year and the book symbolizes the creative writing found on my sites.

It is humbling and fascinating to see and to hold an artistic expression that depicts me and is created by an artist I greatly admire. It is a rare gift of talent and of perspective. The images in our personal mirror may differ greatly not just from reality but from the views of others. When we perceive ourselves through the artistic mirror of another, we become enlightened on another level entirely.

A few weeks ago a friend posted on social media a commercial for Canon disguised as viral video content which provided an entertaining and intriguing idea of one person being photographed by 4 different photographers.  Each photographer was presented with a different “story” and ultimately that was reflected in their work so that in a way, it was as if there were four photographs of four different people. One could expect different artists in different mediums to capture an aspect of an individual differently but it’s compelling to see photographers who are using the same equipment with the same subject who is wearing the exact same clothes in the same background create vastly different works of art. It proves there is more to photography than point and click, photography can create exceptional and transcendent artwork.

In my Crayon Diary experiment I created portraits of individual people in my own way. It was my way of honoring those who signed up. I was able to do 30 and I promise to conclude them next year. Art shouldn’t be rushed and shouldn’t be placed on an artificial time table which I created for myself.

And as a creator myself, I am curious to see how I might be perceived by other artists of all kinds. What is the image others may create with me as the subject matter? I’ve now received a glimpse of one artist, Karen Rossi. In this year, minimally, I may select one artist per season to create a work and document the result.  If the spirit moves you, you may wish to do the same, at least once. It supports the arts and specific artists and the result may leave you with an amazing perspective on yourself.  Or you may wish, as my sister did, to give a gift for someone else and present to them something magical and wonderful, as was presented to me this past Christmas.

The tree may be gone but what it represented will remain, as will the image of me reflected through an artistic mirror of a friend.

Categories: Torrington Stories

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4 replies »

  1. How special to have a beautiful piece of art made just for you! I am a hygienist and worked at an office in Simsbury for over 11 years. There were these whimsical hanging murals from the dental chair light arms, that were hanging prior to my employment. I wonder if it was your artist friend? Happy New Year to you.

    • Thank you Sarah! I wouldn’t be surprised if the work you saw in Simsbury was her work-Karen Rossi’s creations are quite distinct and she has a big following in CT (her home state!) Thank you for checking out the story!

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