By Elizabeth Rubin
A coffee maker, a radio, a pair of scissors. Ordinary, ubiquitous objects to most, but to artist Estelle Nussbaum they represent keen observations of daily life.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and a graduate of Yale University School of Art, Nussbaum has been a Guilford resident for 30 years. Last November, she opened her home studio as part of the Shoreline Arts Trail and Open Studios Weekend. Celebrating its 15th year, the event presents more than 40 artists from the towns of Branford, Guilford and Madison. The Arts Trail allows art enthusiasts an opportunity to spend time with artists in their work space and experience first-hand their creative process. One of a kind works of jewelry, sculpture, glass and of course paintings are just some of the original treasures available for purchase.
Earlier in her career while her son was a student at Ezra Academy, Nussbaum discovered a unique studio space in a converted factory close to the school. “I was always more comfortable in an urban environment, and I was in my element there. These were tall buildings, and I liked to look through a window. I like to have a dialogue with whatever it is I am looking. I’m a careful observer.” Nussbaum shared.
In addition to the Shoreline Arts Trail, Nussbaum has exhibited her work at the Greene Art Gallery and Guilford Art Center and expressed how much she enjoyed opening her studio to the public. “ It’s been a lot of fun. It’s good to talk about the work, and I enjoy talking about it. I like when people ask me questions and that they’re interested.”
Nussbaum primarily works in oil, and has a particular preference for using paper as her canvas. “I like paper. It can be crumpled and tossed and lacks the preciousness of a canvas. I like to figure things out as I’m painting almost like you would solve a mathematical problem.”
Looking at her subject matter from multiple points of view is a distinctive characteristic of Nussbaum’s work. “I don’t only want to see one side of something so I tend to work smaller using twelve inch squares and moving my easel. I might paint twelve of the same item, but each painting will look very different based on my perspective.” Painting in this particular manner better acquaints Nussbaum with her subjects and allows for a complete picture. “They each look different, but they compliment one another.”
Another feature of Nussbaum’s work is her tendency to paint in single sittings. “I cannot go back to a painting the next day because the light is different, the time of day or even my mood. It’s hard to pick that thread up.”
For Nussbaum, joining the Shoreline Arts Trail provides a great opportunity to connect with local art admirers and gallery owners. “Art wouldn’t exist without an audience. It’s a dialogue between the artist and the people who have come to see something. While it’s satisfying for me to paint, it’s more important to have people see what you’ve done. My paintings allow you to go into them and see whatever you want to see.”