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New Canaan Library

I Been Looking for You

Artwork by Charles Schick and Regina Bartkoff. On display August 13-October 4, 2015.

The work of Charles Schick and Regina Bartkoff grows out of a Lower East Side story, about a search for tenderness and understanding, for love and art, for a life lived fully without fear or apology. Here are two artists who found each other and together committed to a life of unceasing creativity and authenticity. As painters and theater artists, Schick and Bartkoff mine the shadows to bring forward what we hide or miss, eliciting emotions that feel uncomfortably true.

292 Theatre/Gallery, the exhibition and performance space they helped found from a former squat at 292 East Third Street, has served as a laboratory for expression and experimentation, most recently featuring exhibitions of each artist’s paintings and drawings, as well as their brilliant revival of Tennessee Williams’ “Two Character Play.” Visual art and theater are intertwined for Schick and Bartkoff, who cite Williams as a major source of inspiration; the title of this show is taken from opening lines in Williams’ “Summer and Smoke,” where protagonists John and Alma tortuously find and lose themselves in each other throughout the play. In their work, we can also see traces of Francis Bacon and Van Gogh, Bosch and Munch, Carson McCullers and Kerouac, and the streets of the Lower East Side themselves, once teeming with unique characters and raw, beautiful energy.

We need to look carefully at Schick’s paintings, stand quietly and dreamily before them, to contemplate the beauty and longing veiled in their darkness. Bartkoff hits us between the eyes with punches of color and stark imagery, rousing us to consider the juxtaposition of graphic and ghoulish elements in her compositions. Neither artist shies from the monsters under the bed, but as with their theater work, there are warmth and black humor here, too. They’re in for the whole picture, depicting the full range of messy, inconvenient emotions we’re not looking for, but that find us eventually one way or another.

The oil paintings in this show by Charles Schick were done between 1995 and 2015. Bartkoff’s pieces are from a series of pastel chalk drawings done between May 2014 and January 2015.

I Been Looking for You