Reverse Centaur, Mango Stein, and Wail of the Banshee have three things in common: First, they are all names of locally brewed beers. Second, each beer has a label designed by a Connecticut artist. And third, each of them are now pieces of art hanging on the walls of Three Sheets in New Haven as part of the December edition of their monthly Art in the Back, Music in the Front series. This installment, which opened on Saturday, features label artists who have also been guests on the 16 Oz. Canvas podcast created and hosted by AJ Keirans.
Just over a year ago Keirans curated his first art show in Connecticut, featuring a host of artists from his podcast at Kehler Liddell Gallery in Westville, where those artists showed not only their label art, but also their fine art pieces. For this Three Sheets show Keirans chose a theme: the artists of CT Beer. Ten artists in all participated, including Lisa Sotero of Stony Creek Brewery and Craig Gilbert of New England Brewing Company, who both participated in last year’s show.
“This show includes both label art and fine art again,” said Keirans. “I’m trying to bring it from a podcast to a community project, taking it from audio to visual. This is a way to celebrate it.”
Keirans spoke kindly of the support and assistance he received from everyone at Three Sheets while curating this show, especially Sara Scranton, who has been curating the monthly Three Sheets series since its inception three years ago. “They are so supportive here,” he said. “They gave me so much freedom with the art and artists.” A tap list for the evening was also set up to include beer from the breweries that the artists have worked for.
One of those artists also happens to work at Three Sheets. Chris Edwards, who was behind the bar for the evening’s festivities on Saturday, is also head of sales, creative director, and part owner of Hoax Brewing in East Haven, as well as the label artist for most of Hoax’s beers.
“It will be our two-year anniversary in March,” said Edwards, who joined the brewery after being approached to do labels. “Our whole thing is trying to incorporate the tattoo vibe into the beer world.” Before working in the beer industry, Edwards had been a tattoo apprentice. His flash sheets, as well as labels he has done for Hoax — including one for a beer specifically made for the bar called Three Sheets Lager — are part of this month’s show.
Craig Gilbert mentioned with a smile that he had been a bartender at Sheets back when it was Rudy’s as he sipped a beer and talked about his latest fine art pieces in this show — along with the original line drawing for New England Brewing’s Zapata Bot beer and the label for that beer and others. His FLOW work for this installation appears not just on canvas, but on different types of food, including a slice of pizza, a lemon and a lime.
“Because it’s funny,” he said when asked why he chose that medium. “And also, there’s that interconnection between everyone and everything that goes through all of my FLOW pieces. Everybody sees something different, and everybody eats, so it’s all connected.”
Magge Gagliardi displayed three pieces from her interconnected series called The Squatch Squad, which she said was “based on Bigfoot folklore from around the world.” Each piece took three months to complete. She also has on display two of the three labels she has done for Front Porch Brewing, as well as a special edition piece for Purgatory Roasters in Middletown for their one-year anniversary. Gagliardi has also done five labels for Collective Arts Brewing and is their Connecticut artist in residence, participating in their live events, which have included two murals at Elm City Social.
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