Thursday, December 10, 2009

REVIEW: Survey: 215 College Gallery Group Exhibition at Living/Learning Gallery

Unfortunately this exhibit closed on December 4, so you can't see it for yourself, but we thought it was good to get it on record and at least allow our readers to see it through Emily and Shawna's eyes. -- Ed.

By Emily Wilson and Shawna Cross

Earlier this month we traveled up the hill to UVM from our headquarters at Borough Gallery and Studio on lower Pine, in support of the 215 College Gallery exhibition installed in the Living and Learning Gallery. Because of Borough Gallery and Studio's interest in connecting with local artists, venues and community art programs we truly support the overall mission of the 215 College Gallery and wanted to respond to their latest exhibit. The exhibition titled Survey: 215 College Gallery Group Exhibition was on display at the L/L Gallery from November 2 until December 4th. The show consisted of eleven artists with either one or two showcased pieces, including works on canvas, paper, photography, sculpture and site specific installations.

The gallery itself is nestled in the Living Learning quarters of the UVM campus, on the second floor near to the Fireplace Lounge, which situates it among young energy, academia and shifting traffic. This juxtaposition enables the gallery to become a space of quiet contemplation, and takes you a step away from the hustle and bustle of undergraduate study. As you enter the room you notice its very box-like quality, clean white walls and very balanced layout. This contrast and shift from spaces surrounding the gallery is an intriguing aspect of the overall gallery experience. This relationship heightens the appeal of actually entering the gallery space and presents it as almost intimate to approach. The show installation was thoughtfully mediated and very carefully planned out in order to give weight to each artist and each piece. There seemed to be a natural path beginning to the left of the door as you entered. As you followed the perimeter of the room from a Sumru Tekin drawing to a pair of prints by Rosie Prevost, there was a sense that most of the pieces were similar in scale and allowed you to move from one two-dimensional piece to the next two-dimensional piece. However, just as you thought you were on to the next, there was an element of surprise with a subtle sculptural addition, which truly added excitement to the overall viewer experience because the room was so linear.

Sumru Tekin's Rough Draft, a pencil and ink drawing on marbled paper, peaked our interest as we first began our venture through this intriguing exhibition. Its swirling colors and winding lines called out for careful attention, drawing us in further to what this story tells.

Rosie Prevost's pair of black and white prints stood proud, simple, and were reflective, in both the image and the presentation, of ones capacity for extreme attention to detail.

Diane Gabriel’s set of three gelatin prints – Halloween, NY State; Children Playing, Huntington VT; Two Children Playing, Huntington, VT – created a vivid landscape of felt moments as their subjects’ emotions leapt through the frame. Movement vibrated through the frame as our eyes wandered through blurred edges to an eventual sharp center, creating the sense that as a viewer you've suddenly stumbled upon secrets, invoking a stunning sensation of absolute silence.

Jennifer Koch's silvery, Eiffel tower-like, shoe-trapping structure casually stood, as if a woman in uncomfortable heels, in the left quadrant of the room. Four sides, four legs, tilted, filled with silvery shoes (perhaps mostly 8 1/2) was curiously enchanting.

Linda Jones' mixed media piece Right On It tugged at our curiosity and brought waves through the mind as its bold oranges and captivating yellows rumbled upwards, eventually highlighted perfectly by vivid, bright violet precisely where the eye asks it to be. Its loud chaos left us dying to know what it is saying.

Sandra Berbeco's acrylic landscape Autumn, with its tender approach to each application of paint, was reminiscent of a memory traveled before.

Kate Donnelly's series Heritage was hung in both presentation and process as if exemplifying the various layers and faces of ones own heritage. In utilizing cut paper, repetition and scale, these pieces linked all that is authentic about building imagery to explain a series of ideas.

Jude Bond's solid presence lingered delicately in the back right hand corner of the space. First, we encountered Hunger is the Best Sauce, where we felt as if the movement of the potato masher realistically implied the action and the overall movement of mashing potatoes, visually as well as physically, and created this very real transformation beyond the domestic realm. Then draping, growing, clinging, limited by constraints, Bond's installation Home is Where the Doilies Are was just as much about the positive space of the actual construction of multiple layers of crocheted doilies as it was about the negative space, visible in the shadows created by how the piece was installed.

Elise Whitmore-Hill's acrylic Crown of Thorns brought on the nostalgia of the fall season. Her painterly application of warm tones ranging from orange to brown to green were perfectly planted on the canvas, combining whimsical brush strokes and strong line quality.

Katherine Hall's installation of 13 encaustic dog heads confronted you snout on near the end of the show. The dogs, molded and styled, hung in rows, as if piled in a dog pyramid. Each expression was as detailed as the next; this installation barked presence and definitely got your attention.

Mary E. Johnson's three silver gelatin prints provided fantastic light quality and crisp, yet still fluid, images of personal moments as we wandered through Aunt Helen, Gram, and Aunt Angie. These stunning photos invited the viewer to stay a while, pour some tea and chat.

Survey: 215 College Gallery Group Exhibition tapped on the viewer's mind and left an imprint on the heart with its images varying from loud and bold sculptures and abstracts to soft and quiet photos and landscapes. The personal and inviting nature of the exhibition as a whole allowed your thoughts to wander to your own family and special memories, as well as take privledged views into the artists'. 215 may as well have invited their viewers to tea and friendly conversation, only to then spike the tea and gently challenge all previously held ideas and notions, urging everyone to look closer, listen more and open their minds wider -- because that is certainly what they did. For that, Burlington's art community is lucky.

Images of visitors at the opening reception courtesy of Jude Bond