Art Never Rests
Justin Perlman spends a lot of time in his truck. On any given day, the ponytailed sculptor steers his Ford F-Series along I-84 or down Route 7, his hands calloused and numb from working the machinery in his Sherman studio, a mammoth sculpture carved from wood or stone secured to his flatbed. For those thinking the artist’s life is one of quiet isolation, they haven’t met Perlman.
In April alone Perlman, 39, is exhibiting four works in a local art gallery, installing an outdoor sculpture on the grounds of the Connecticut Governor’s mansion in Hartford, and finishing large figurative pieces in painted steel for the Spring concert (and collaboration) between the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra (RSO), Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, and the Ridgefield Guild of Artists on Saturday, April 6th.
“When you collaborate with an artist, you hope to find someone who will go on a ride with you,” says Gina Wilson, Executive Director of the RSO. “This is our second major collaboration with Justin. At the beginning, we talk about the parameters of a project, but then we have to give him license to go wherever his creative mind takes him. His natural curiosity leads to total immersion in the story we share onstage, and results in an expansion of our original vision.”
Perlman’s natural curiosity has guided his career as an artist. A Long Island native, he studied sculpture at the Art Students League of NY, moved to Pietrasanta, Italy to hone is marble-carving skills alongside master artisans, and apprenticed at the Coopermill Bronze Works, a fine art bronze foundry in Ohio, to gain expertise in the bronze casting process, before settling in Sherman with his partner and fellow RSO collaborator, Adelka Polak. Perlman and Polak, a dancer and fellow artist, have served as the Artists in Residence at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists since 2011, where they have been tasked with shaping the future of the residency program.
“Adelka and I believe the basic function of any art residency is an outreach program,” says Perlman. “We look at our role as a flexible arm of the Guild, one that can take advantage of opportunities that arise – like the RSO collaboration – that wouldn’t otherwise fit into the regular scheduling.”
For the upcoming RSO event, Perlman spent several weeks sketching Conservatory dancers as they prepared a short but vibrant piece for the concert. He created large figurative pieces in painted steel to reflect the energy of the dancers as they filled the studio with bright fabric and excited movement. The piece will be revealed to the public – and the RSO’s own Executive Director – for the first time during the April 6 concert.
“It’s risky,” laughs Wilson, “but art is risky.”
Perlman’s other notable public works are on display at the Madison Sculpture Mile in Madison, CT, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, and at the Jon Ielpi Memorial Firefighter Park in Great Neck, Long Island, where he was commissioned by the town to create a memorial dedicated to a beloved public servant, the artist’s own father.
His work has been awarded the Audubon Artists Incorporated Gold Medal of Honor for his sculpture “Sisyphus,” and the Marquis Who’s Who In American Art for his sculpture “Recollections of Grace.” The latter, along with three of Perlman’s other small works, are on exhibit at Watershed Gallery, 23 Governor Street in Ridgefield, until May 3rd. Perlman plans to install his newest sculpture – an abstract figurative piece carved from a downed cherry tree – on the grounds of the Governor’s mansion in mid-April.