Wednesday, November 17, 2010

REVIEW: Ronda Stoll at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin

By Theodore Hoppe

The Central Vermont Medical Center has been making some renovations and improvements to their facilities in 2010, and in the process they have added a gallery space. The CVMC Art Gallery stretches across several connected spaces located in the main lobby adjacent to the Visitor's Information Desk. The expectation is to showcase the work of about 6 different artists a year. The current exhibition, Chinese Brush Painting In Four Seasons by Ronda Stoll, is the fourth in a series of exhibits in the gallery space at Central Vermont Medical Center. The others featured the drawing of Dr. Mark Heitzman, the late Charles A. Woodard, and paintings by Adelaide Murphy Tyrol.

Chinese Brush Painting has a rich tradition, dating back hundreds of years. It is a serious study that requires dedication and self-discpline. It is often described as one of the world’s most demanding art forms. Ronda Stoll has studied landscape painting with Frederica Marshall, Jo Steinhurst, and Henry Wo. Her work has been exhibited in many galleries in Vermont and Massachusetts, including the Wood Gallery in Montpelier and the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe. Her painting Snowy Dusk appeared on the cover of the Winter 2010 edition of Sumi-e, the quarterly of the Sumi-e Society of America, whose purpose is to foster and encourage the appreciation of East Asian Brush Painting. “I began painting bamboo 13 years ago as part of my meditation practice,” explains Stoll. “From painting bamboo I began painting the other Four Gentlemen: Orchid, Chrysanthemum, and Plum Blossom." Different flowers can symbolize a number of things, such as good fortune, good luck, wisdom, summer, old age, renewal, purity and sweetness. "Experimenting with colors and textures of the various rice papers have lent more expressionism to my paintings and reflect the beauty of nature that surrounds me."

Perhaps the single most impressive part of Chinese Brush Painting is that each brush stroke is a defining move that produces a portion of the painting. From first to last stroke, the artist must 'get it right'. There is no correcting or improving upon, to adjust the painting as in other styles. The artist never works from a sketch, painting is done from a mental image of a subject. "With each exhale the bamboo comes to life on the paper and what emerges is accepted with no retouching." Stoll explains. The rendering of the subject is meant to be a representation, a symbolic expression that flows forth from the mind and heart, revealing the inner spirit of the subject or the feelings of the artist. "The simplicity of black ink on white paper and the emergent form is a source of peace and joy for me,” she adds. "Like bamboo, painting the mountains and mist captures the ‘emptiness’ that is at the ground of fullness. In Buddhist understanding, Emptiness is the Absolute ‘field’ on which all manifested things are emergent. Landscape painting expresses this dynamic movement of empty and full.”

“The exhibits provide an opportunity to connect local artists with the hospital and better humanize the hospital atmosphere,” stated CVMC President and CEO Judy Tarr. “The serene and peaceful sense a person experiences when viewing Ronda’s work is particularly appropriate for the medical center lobby."

Ronda Stoll's painting will be on display at the Central Vermont Medical Center Art Gallery until the end of November. For information about purchasing a painting you can contact Ronda Stoll at 802-888-2998 or

Images: Snowy Bamboo, Peony