Friday, February 13, 2009

OPINION: Is there a Vermont style or styles?

This is a response to a question submitted by Sam Thurston, and posted on February 12, 2009. Further responses will be posted as they are received.

By Marc Awodey

When I first read the question by Sam Thurston I immediately thought of the best of Vermont landscape painting, and I wondered if responses to our environment paralleled the fine art of eastern Canada (as seen in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), especially the historic Group of Seven. But that’s probably because I’m a northern Vermont artist, more oriented in that direction than to Boston or New York City. In my art critic capacity (and in just being visually aware of what’s around) I also see many Vermont exhibitions every week: from Burlington cafe shows, to the Vermont Supreme Court lobby, to Lois Eby’s current show at Johnson State College, to the NVAA at Bryan Gallery. So getting past the theoretical - I guess the answer is simply NO. There is no overarching Vermont style. I would add though, that the premise suggesting style exists regionally at all may be a false notion. Not all Chicago artists in 1980 were self consciously figurative. Not every young New York City artist of today is dripping with irony. True, there are plenty of aqua colored kitsch paintings in Florida, fishing boats in Gloucester, and paintings of kachinas in New Mexico - but tourist oriented art anywhere is typical of the worst of Vermont’s sap bucket paintings. Eclecticism, is probably most indicative of the sum total of critically informed art everywhere in Western civilization.

Lois Eby, Moment of Blues, 10 5/8 x 10 5/8 in., acrylic on linen, 2007