Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Review: STAART GALLERY, May-June exhibition.

by Marc Awodey

Franklin county had a dearth of exhibition spaces for a long while, but it seems to be quickly making up for lost time. Now in its second year, STAART gallery (acronym for St. Albans Art) is a welcoming venue on Main street in the heart of bustling St. Albans. It’s one of two prominent co-op galleries in that neck of the woods - the other being Artists in Residence Gallery of Enosburg Falls - and both venues seem to be thriving. STAART Director Stina Plant is a photographer whose commercial studio is also on the premises, and the well organized walls display work in all media salon style. Various member artists are featured in revolving shows, and many come from the ranks of the St. Albans Artists Guild, of which Plant is also on the board of directors. In e-mail about the gallery she wrote “My goal is to not only have this space for the artists but also to expose the community to the visual arts.And by expose I mean

show them everything from traditionally executed landscapes to conceptually driven abstractions.”

The current exhibition includes work by five featured artists: Lisamarie Charlesworth, Chad Jenkins, Jen Kristel, Tinka Martel and Syracuse, N.Y. artist John Mannion. ”Fast Lane” by Charlesworth is a mixed media collage in which layers of imagery indicate layers of meaning. It’s one of her seven pieces in the exhibit. All are small scale, full of energy, and tightly composed.

In addition to the featured artists, all members have work on display. The black and white photographs by Clair Dunn are among the

highlights. Dunn was a finalist in the recent “Art of Action, Shaping Vermont’s Future” competition sponsored by the Vermont Arts Council. Many of her works have the mood of Edward Hopper paintings, as she often emphasizes stark contrasts of value in cityscape nocturnes.

STAART is a very egalitarian space that doesn’t jury, and takes no commissions either. Maybe the concept of a non-elitist, non-juried, unpretentions gallery could work in other hardscrabble Vermont towns also?

"5 a.m. in White River" By Clair Dunn

”Fast Lane” by Lisamarie Charlesworth