Saturday, October 3, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Crazy Acres at Julian Scott Memorial Gallery, Johnson VT

EXHIBITION at JOHNSON STATE COLLEGE: Crazy Acres: An Homage to an Artist and Teacher, James Gahagan at Julian Scott Memorial Gallery, Johnson VT
Contact: Leila Bandar (802) 635-1469 or email:

Featured artists: Laurie Alpert, Patricia deGogorza, Diane Fitch, Amy Furman, James Gahagan, Sharon Kaitz, Jean Sousa Kelso, Andrea Pearlman, George Pearlman, Leslie Price, Lorna Ritz, Anci Slovak, Carl Stallman, Ranelle Wolf. James Gahagan and James Gahagan School of Fine Arts.

Exhibit dates: October 12 - November 21, 2009
Reception: October 17, from 4 - 6 pm;
Presentation: November 5 at 3pm: Lineage of Painting in America, here in Vermont: Where have we come from? Where are we going? James Gahagan School of Fine Art. Woodbury, VT.

SOME HISTORY: In the summer of 1971 a small group of young artists arrived in the Vermont countryside (Woodbury) to begin their studies in painting and drawing with James Gahagan. Some came from New York City (many were students from Pratt Art Institute) to live in tents in the wilderness. They set up their easels in a geodesic dome, and shared their meals in a screen tent. In the woods they were to draw from nature, swim in the pond, and attend life drawing sessions in the Dome each week night.

Over two summers in the wilderness, students witnessed color-in-nature and experienced life in the woods. Sensations were fresh and able to touch them deeply. For James Gahagan "color" - was not merely a concept but an epiphany. His passion, like a poem, revealed that the best way to touch The Fleeting was not to "capture" but to "embody". A bird song, a sunset, a cloud, a feeling - these moments confess inner-truths about conflict, joy, loss, and duality. "…Painting is something that takes place among the colors…. Their intercourse is the whole of painting…" (Rainer Maria Rilke Letters on Cezanne, p. 75).

Hoffmann, too, believed that color by itself can create the illusion of volume on the canvas. This lineage of painting - moving and shifting color, conflicted, dualistic and poignant, carries on. Now in middle careers, this group of thirteen artists, former students of Gahagan, display their paintings in the Julian Scott Gallery of Johnson State college. Alongside their teacher, they offer a unique glimpse of painting's lineage from Gahagan and points to all modern colorists emergent from Hoffmann*.

Gahagan, who learned from Hoffmann in New York, moved from New York City to live in Woodbury in 1971. Jim had painted in Vermont since his years at Goddard College in Plainfield (1949 - 1951.) Hans Hofmann had given him a small stipend to survive on for ensuing summers; he painted in an old barn in Plainfield (now the athletic field). James and his wife, Patricia deGogorza, created the Dome school. Their lineage still continues. This show is bright, alive, and thriving with bold gesture and color. Please visit:

* Hoffmann made a point that color by itself could create the illusion of volume on the canvas. This became Jim's pursuit - a high level of experience and color sensitivity was required. Through an education of his sensitivity to color he created his paintings. Receptivity is a great part of this training, as one cannot instruct a color what to do - a color is what it is, but is conditioned dramatically both by its setting (juxtaposition), size, intensity, and luminosity. While the First World War cut short the support of Hoffmann's patrons and being disqualified for the German army by earlier tuberculosis, he opened an art school in Munich in 1915. Artists were drawn to this school throughout the 1920's. In 1931 he began teaching in California bringing his experience of European painting and history to America. Hofmann illustrated the dynamics of drawing and painting both through visual demonstrations and verbally. He provided a sense of structure to those uncertain about modern painting, with precepts artists could make use of, both in their paintings and in their teaching.