Local artist gives NAHS inductees an assignment
Jim Felice, an award-winning Connecticut based sculptor, addresses NAHS inductees.
Shannon Ahearn, Staff Writer
February 4, 2016
Jim Felice, an award-winning Connecticut sculptor, assigned the 2015-2016 NAHS students at Danbury High School a project that he could feature in his trailer box exhibit.
“It will all happen by experimentation, by having fun, and an act of ‘let’s just see what happens,” Felice told around 80 inductees and their parents in the audience. “I have these objects I’m going to give them and I’d like to see you create something that inspires you by living with this object.”
The objects Felice handed out varied from abstract, aluminum circles to blocks of wood filled with holes.
Michael Obre, NAHS adviser and head of the Arts Department, had actually invited another artist to be guest speaker at the chapter’s induction ceremony held on Jan. 20. When the original speaker fell through, the NAHS officers reached out to Felice, and Obre couldn’t have been more pleased.
“Every year, I ask the guest presenter to talk about how art does not have to be the Van Gogh story,” Obre said. “He gave the National Art Honor Society a homework assignment, which I thought was great.”
Throughout his speech, Felice expressed how he was inspired by ordinary pieces. Street graffiti gave him the idea of the trailer box project, which is located here in Danbury. It is a free place where local artists can come to display their work.
Felice’s words and assignment inspired many of the inductees at the ceremony.
Samantha Galbraith, a freshman, says, “Every piece he showed had an interesting story to it and I loved it. Also, I found the objects he gave us to be very unique. I plan on working on the assignment and start thinking more about my work.”
The art Felice has created can be seen throughout Manchester and Fairfield County. He has also won awards including: “Award of Excellence in Sculpture,” “Best in Sculpture,” “2nd Prize in Sculpture” and “2nd Prize in Painting.”
Additionally, Felice talked about his art exhibits being on display worldwide. His work has been part of a set of sculptures that has traveled as far as Italy.
Felice organized a kiosk in which one trades art for the art displayed on the kiosk. It is no surprise that Felice has inspired so many, including Gabriella Cardosa, junior.
“Although his sculptures, one of which was inspired by a urinal, are both magnificent and motivating,” Cardosa said, “his ability to undermine the status quo that artistry is a side job in which no steady income could be made proved even more awe-inspiring.”
She continued that “both students and parents alike were inspired to let go of these societal ideals and follow their hearts.”
Ted’s - TIP SHEET-
an occasional listing of story ideas, photo ops, people of note, comings & goings, and what I like about Greater Danbury
Thru July 19th - Danbury artist Jim Felice’s Alien Circus Project, currently on view at the spacious West Cove Studio/A-Space Gallery in West Haven, is very Ogden Nash. Felice references the whimsical American poet’s commentary,The Big Tent Under The Roof:
... who am I to interfere?
I’d rather shake hands with Mr. Ringling
And tell him his circus is a beautiful thingling.
That’s the title of the artist’s Alien Circus Project. It charms me with the same wide-eyed wonder when I first experienced, as a kid, the final spec under a Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey 3-ring circus tent, which arrived in Woodbury NJ at midnight by train and was pitched by elephants and roustabouts just in time for a matinee performance. The Gallery maintains hours by chance and is hard to find, not unlike Felice’s Danbury studio on Great Pasture Road. When you get to 30 Elm Street, look for a huge warehouse and find your way. But isn’t that what running away to the Circus is all about? jimfelice.com Gallery: (203) 500 0268
Silvermine Art Center Sculpture Walk
The Ridgefield Press Sept.13, 2010
Kohler ad cover page Sept. 2010 issues of:
Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine, Coastal Living,
Departures, Sunset: Living in the West
Ad for Time Inc./Kohler Commission as it appears in Sept. 2010
issues of; Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine,
Coastal Living, Departures, and Sunset: Living in the West.
Auto Body Worker Finds Success as Sculptor
By Dirk Perrefort
Ridgefield - Jim Felice loves restoring vintage automobiles and working on custom hot rods, but his creative impulses yearned for something more.
It was about 20 years ago that Felice, the owner of Felice Auto Body in South Salem, NY, combined his auto body skills and his desire for artistic expression to begin creating his own unique sculptures.
"I was just looking for a creative avenue and started making things," said Felice, whose dream was to become a musician before his need to support his family and a passion for cars drove him into the auto body business.
"I met some artists in the area who served as my mentors, and I just got the bug. I've been working on my own pieces ever since."
About five years ago Felice was restoring other sculptures in the rgion when his restoration work began to pay off. Felice also worked on his own pieces in his spare time.
"It just started to grow and grow," he said. "Now that's pretty much all I do."
"I still work on some cars here and there if it's a project I'm really interested in. I have a 1959 Triumph TR3 that I might work o nthis winter. I still like working on cars. I don't want to let that go."
Although the skills Felice learned through the auto body trade - including metal cutting, welding and painting - serve him well as a sculptor, the two are not interchangeable.
"You can have the skills, but you really need to have the creative impulse to turn those skills into a work of art," he said. "Nobody can teach you how to be creative."
Carter Boyajian, gallery director at the Sculpture Barn in New Fairfield, said Felice's work could be described as a contemporary version of the assemblage art form, because he creates sculptures out of objects that he finds and he also creates his own objects.
Assemblage is defined as taking everyday objects and assembling them to make a statement.
"Felice is an assemblage artist, but I don't think he ever intended to be," Boyajian said. "He fabricates some of his objects and sometimes uses auto body paint on his work, which makes his pieces look really slick."
Felice is one of three artists whose work is on display at the Sculpture Barn this month as part of the "Assemblage: Fragments of Urban Culture" exhibition.
Some of Felice's pieces in the show include "shields," which are automobile hoods and trunk lids colored with poured paint.
"I use different materials to manipulate the paint as it flows," he said. "Sometimes I call it the great chace. You really have to wrestle with it sometimes."
Felice will also be showing for the first time several pieces that will eventually be part of a larger outdoor display he calls "Clown Wedding." The concept began to germinate in his head after a local junk dealer dropped off a metal archway at his shop.
"It sat outside for a while," he said. "Then one day I had this kind of funny but also serious notion of creating a clown wedding under the arch."
The installation at the gallery will include the "Ringmaster" under the arch as well as the bride, groom, maid of honor and best man.
Eventually, Felice would like to create 40 members of the audience and a clown choir. The installation wouldn't be complete without a clown car in the background.
"I though the show would be a great way to introduce the concept to the public," Felice said.
Other artists featured in the show are Baltimore resident Robert Alholm, whose assemblages are often described as humorous, and Ridgefield resident David Gelfman.
Gelman said he draws his inspiration from his fascination with machinery and how things work. "Most of my work has a mechanical element to it," he said.
Boyajian said most of Gelfman's work can be described as a constructivism form of assemblage, because he manufactures most of the objects he uses.
"He takes all these parts and assembles them to create some kind of mechanism that usually has a kinetic element to it," she said.
Despite his success with sculpture, Felice said he still has a desire to return to his creative roots in music.
"Sometimes I look at myself and wonder why am I doing this," he said. "I'm really a musician at heart."
Works by Felice, Gelfman and Alholm will be on display at the Sculpture Barn, on Milltown Road on the Danbury/New Fairfield town line, through October 7.
Auto Body Worker Finds Success as Sculptor. by Dirk Perrefort. News Times. September 16, 2007.