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KK Kozik’s evocative paintings in the Summer Nights collection include “Overlook,” above. The works all seem to glow with heat and memories.

The Warmth of Summer Nights in Old New England

Art

When you first move to rural Connecticut, it has a magical mystique that makes you feel like you’ve been transported to one of the scenic old New England books of Robert McCloskey (remember “Blueberries for Sal,” with the plinking of the freshly picked berries in a metal bucket?). 

Certainly, that’s how I felt when I first moved up here, about 25 years ago. And I’m pretty sure that others share the sentiment, that desire to be in a place where people are decent and kind and wear worn-out khaki pants and ancient cashmere sweaters and slightly soiled bucket hats.

Of course, that wistful nostalgia for a life we’ve read about collides to some degree with our need for modern amenities such as mixed baby greens sold at tidy grocery stores and high-speed internet and mobile phone service. 

Inevitably, life changes and goes on and all that quaint rural adorableness becomes more of a dream and less of a daily reality. 

When KK Kozik and her husband and young children moved from New York City to Sharon, Conn., they bought my old funky house on the Sharon town Green. They fixed it up beautifully, making it clean and modern and finally banishing the old wallpaper from the 1950s that had outlived its days of being charming. 

She and her husband, Scott, fixed up our perforated old garage and turned it into a bright and shiny art studio, and they fixed up the dilapidated, weed encrusted icehouse out back and turned it into a mini art gallery, called the ICEHOUSE Project Space. 

Since then, Kozik has featured area artists, doing small shows in the tiny space. For now, of course, the gallery is on a COVID-induced hiatus. 

But Kozik has continued to paint. She recently sent out images by email of some of her new work, in a collection called Summer Nights.

The paintings themselves practically glow with summer warmth and memories, of swimming in cold ponds on hot summer nights, of getting out of cars at scenic overlooks and looking down onto the lights of buildings far below, of a neighbor’s house when the sun is down and the lights are out and the crickets are making a racket. 

The paintings are like the Jungian collective unconscious. They are iconically summer night-ish. No matter who you are, they will spark an internal memory — a nice one. 

The memories they sparked were especially moving for me, as these paintings were for the most part created in a place that I still secretly consider to be “my house,” even though I was in it for only a relatively short period.  

The essay that Kozik sent out with the paintings makes me realize, though, that it’s not a sense of territorial possessiveness that makes me think it’s “my house.” There’s something mystical that comes with living in an old house on a New England town Green that sinks into you and travels with you when you leave.  

When I read Kozik’s essay, I felt that she had transcribed my own life experience in that house. She even referenced that mythic Robert McCloskey world.

If you want to see the images and read the essay, and be transported, email her at kk2kozik@gmail.com and ask her to share her Summer Nights email with you (and the price list, because the paintings are of course available for purchase). Or go to her website at www.k2kozik.com/icehouse-project-space. Kozik’s work is also in a group show at Bernay Fine Art in Great Barrington, Mass., called “Contemporary Landscapes.”

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