Monday, February 2, 2009

REVIEW: NVAA Annual Juried Members Show

Bryan Memorial Gallery, Jeffersonville
February 1 – March 15, 2009
by Janet Van Fleet

The Northern Vermont Artist Association (NVAA) is an artist membership organization with a long history; NVAA had its first exhibit in 1930. For many years NVAA has had an annual members show at the Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville. This year, the gallery has mounted two big NVAA shows – a historical exhibition of NVAA members’ work in the front gallery, and the annual juried members show in the rear gallery (see image at left).

The Bryan Memorial Gallery is an institution that focuses on work by (and like) its founders, Alden and Mary Bryan, and their contemporaries – primarily Vermont landscapes, still lifes, and genre paintings. Such works predominate in the annual members exhibit, with a few notable exceptions, the first and foremost being three Aesthetic Machines by Robert W. Brunelle, Jr., the NVAA’s President.

Brunelle is known for his highly-saturated acrylic paintings, and as I stood in front of Aesthetic Machine 1 (right), I imagined that bits of one of his paintings had flown off the canvas, KAZOWW, appropriated a third dimension, ZOOP, and KACHINK, assembled themselves into these delightful, compact visual operas. You can even change the scene by turning knobs and cranks that are marked with a small pinhead. But of course such things don’t really happen by magic or intergalactic artmaking, and while he was waiting to participate in a Roundtable before the opening reception, Brunelle revealed that he cuts the elements of these amusing machines from foamcore, and that he got the templates for the gears (seen at left, on the backside of Machine1) online.

Another surprise was new work by Dorothy Martinez. In addition to two familiar (and, as always, excellent) abstractions (including Winter Blue, below left), she offered a more figurative landscape called Water’s Edge (below center). Further surprise: the Bryan has a small gallery in between the two main galleries that offers cards, books, and groups of work by artists they have identified as good sellers – including Dorothy Martinez. This little group of her work (below right) refers to the landscape quite clearly. And it is displayed across from a section devoted to (hot pink cityscape) paintings by Wendy James.

But back to the NVAA show. Among many Vermont scenes seen from a distant vantage point, I was drawn to some pieces with a more intimate perspective on the Vermont landscape. Here are a few:

Marilyn James, Walk inthe Woods, oil

Jane Shoup, Morning Light, pastel

Bradley Fox, Waiting for the Weekend Celebration, oil

Carol Norton, Underwater Flower, watercolor (sorry about the reflections)

Marcia Rosberg, The Rush of Spring, oil