Friday, February 26, 2010

WALKABOUT: S.P.A.C.E. Gallery in Burlington

by John Andrew Cipriano

Having just recently moved to Vermont from New York City, where I spent much of my time working in the art world from museums to Chelsea galleries, I must admit I was uncertain I’d ever be in a crowded art gallery on a Saturday night surrounded by people sipping on white wine intelligently discussing the artwork in front of them. I wasn’t even certain that Burlington had any significant art galleries or people who truly appreciated them.

Well, I was proven wrong after my experience at the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery located at 266 Pine Street, just seconds from downtown Burlington. Once the home of Dorn’s Venetian Ginger Ale, the so-aptly named Soda Plant has had a history reaching back nearly a century. Once simply an empty soda warehouse, converting the space into an artist collective environment was the brainchild of Christy Mitchell, a Vermont native for the past 5 1/2 years. Before the move to Vermont, Christy lived in Savannah, Georgia, where she attended The Savannah College of Art and Design studying Metals & Jewelry. One day back in April 2009, after staring into the recently abandoned warehouse, Christy dreamed up the gallery and studio collective that is now the S.P.A.C.E. and it has grown in popularity and success ever since.

That Saturday’s festivities included the Release Party of est & burly bird, a set of literary and visual art zines, and the closing of the immensely successful Small Works show which originally opened On December 4, 2009. The S.P.A.C.E. Gallery’s next show, Love in 2010, presents a select group of artists’ perspectives on love in honor of St. Valentines Day.

Christy is not simply satisfied with the occasional exhibition or party, however, and has great plans for the Gallery in 2010, so stay tuned for more amazing exhibits and wholly creative performance pieces. Most every studio space has been rented by an amazingly talented group of young artists and the gallery/exhibition spaces are to be expanded in 2010.

By the end of the evening, I forgot I was hundreds of miles from New York and I think I’ve found a new home in the ever-changing S.P.A.C.E. Gallery.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

REVIEW: Sabra Field at Chaffee Art Center in Rutland

By Peter S. Wallis

Since 1969, Sabra Field’s passion for the Vermont landscape has led her to a rich exploration of printmaking in her studio in East Barnard. She is one of the most compelling contemporary printmakers presently working in the medium here in Vermont, and her exhibit, Cosmic Geometry and Other Recent Prints, is at the Chaffee Art Center from February 12-March 21, 2010.

After completing a degree from Middlebury College and earning an M.A.T. from Wesleyan University she was awarded an honorary P.H.D. from Middlebury College, where a permanent collection of her work is housed. Field teaches printmaking workshops in Tuscany and shares the work with the Vermont community. Her subject matter evokes muses of Italian and Greek art history but is steadfastly grounded in a certain sense of place here in Vermont. Field’s strong connection to the Vermont landscape allows her to express the subtle beauty of the state. Her bold graphic elements create an allegory of pastoral moments with an economy of mark and accuracy of gesture Her style is distinctively her own. In an era where digital mediums are taking over many art practices, Sabra’s careful meditation with printmaking materials continues the thoughtful tradition of block printmaking with a deep reverence for the Vermont landscape.

Throughout the ages artists have had a tremendous impact on the political, social, and environmental constructs of the world we live in. Individual artists have dissolved political systems, created social dialogs, and have been a voice for the oppressed. Artists of many different practices have fostered messages of peace and prompted social change. Singular minds and gestures have been a voice for human suffering in a world overwhelmed by environmental degradation, as well as political and social injustices. Artists find themselves often wondering how they can inspire change and social awareness through their work.

In that same vein Sabra Field’s Pandora Suite series exercises the artist’s role as activist and continues a thread of thoughtful protest in her current work. She works in a long tradition of artists dealing with overcoming human suffering and war through visual art.

This current body of work reflects her own contemporary take on the Greek Myth of Pandora’s Jar. The piece entitled Suffering, included in this series, invokes the mother and dead child of Picasso’s famed Guernica mural. The work also alludes to Goya’s Horrors of War series, with echoes of Mary Cassatt’s tenderness, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s monumental flowers and landscapes.

This work reminds us how deeply suffering and war are ingrained in the human experience that we all share. Pandora Suite digs deep into our collective consciousness to engage the viewer with the difficult issues of warfare, inequality, and suffering. Eventually themes in this series are overcome by compassion, culture, love, hope, and wisdom and leave the viewers to draw their own associations with the contents of Pandora’s Jar. This is a very powerful series, with large expressionistic figures whose earth-toned palette suggests they mayhave been carefully carved and rendered from Pandora’s Jar itself. The work is as bold as it is charged with a compassionate sensibility.

Also in the show is a series titled Cosmic Geometry, interconnected moments, subtly suggesting Fibonacci’s golden ratio and forms in nature as well as architecture. This work is an interesting departure from her depictions of the Vermont landscape, expressing an interest in relationships and similarities through patterns and symbolism and offering up some interesting juxtapositions. This body of work certainly connects the microcosmic world with the macrocosmic. Sabra Field’s work at the Chaffee ranges from moments of quiet contemplation of the Vermont landscape, to patterns and similarities in natural and man-made systems, leading to Pandora’s Jar brimming with human experiences of war and love we all share.

I asked Sabra Field some questions about her artwork and her thoughts about artmaking in Vermont.

P.W. Who are the printmakers that most inspire you?

S.F. Leonard Baskin and Carol Summers

P.W. What effect do you feel individual artists have on fostering and transmitting messages of peace in the world?

S.F. Only a few greats like Picasso and Goya rise above the level of amateur propaganda to depict human tragedy. The rest of us try to make images, which will separate ourselves from violence and identify ourselves with the good guys... failing to understand that both are part of human nature.

P.W. In a time when younger artists are making a mass exodus to larger cities in hopes of better opportunities and jobs, what advice do you have for younger artists who have chosen to stay here in Vermont and are struggling with a state with very little opportunity for artists and craftspeople?

S.F. Truthfully, I wasn't aware of this "mass exodus". I would say it's always been a struggle. One must make one's own opportunities as well as take advantage of what exists. For instance, when I arrived I began doing craft fairs. I also made friends with another artist and together we put on exhibits to benefit non-profits.

The advent of the internet kind of negates the necessity of being one place or another, doesn't it?

The show is on view at Chaffee Art Center from February 12-March 21, 2010

Art Hop Reception: Featuring Music by John Spencer, Friday, March 12, 5-8 pm

Closing Reception: Gallery Talk and Tour with Sabra Field, Saturday, March 20, 2-5 pm

Chaffee Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10-5, Sunday: 12-4 pm

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Annual Atwood Artists Group Exhibit at Vermont Arts Exchange in North Bennington

The Healing Arts: New Pathways to Health, in conjunction with Vermont Arts Exchange (VAE) and United Counseling Service of Bennington County (UCS), presents “The Atwood Artists Group Annual Show,” opening with a reception in VAE’s Mill Gallery, in the Sage Street Mill, on Thursday, March 4, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. This exhibit, presented in partnership with United Counseling Service of Bennington County (UCS), will be on view in the Mill Gallery through this summer.

The Atwood Artists are a group of about 12 adults who work weekly in VAE’s art studios through UCS’s day service program. Working alongside artist Lorraine Mears and UCS staff, these participants have focused on group and individual artworks for two to three years in VAE’s studios — in doing so, these untrained artists have found their own individual style and manner of working that best suits their creative expression. Since 2006, with support from The Healing Arts: New Pathways To Health program, VAE has been able to provide an innovative, high quality accessible arts and healing partnership program, that builds on 18 years of working with UCS and other social service agencies and schools in the community.

Program Director Patricia Pedreira, MA ATR says, “This culminating exhibit at the Mill Gallery is a labor of love and a key part of this year-round arts and healing partnership program. We are delighted to be able to put the spotlight on such talent, and share this work with the community.”

She adds that “Matching grants from the Jane's Trust, The Vermont Arts Council and the Edwards Foundation, and private donations, have helped us to sustain important partnership programs like this one."

The work in this annual exhibit includes drawings, paintings, mosaic tile artwork and sculpture.

“The artists exhibiting are all faced with various physical and mental challenges in their lives,” says VAE Artistic Director and teacher Matthew Perry. “Each week they gather with great enthusiasm to make art and the amount of work being produced is astonishing. They not only are producing, but several are expanding on their work and exploring different styles and mediums. For some of these artists who have been working in the studio for several years, they’ve established a particular trust and comfort level with their work, which results in incredible pieces.”

Robert Pini, UCS’s community relations director, adds, “For people with developmental disabilities, communication difficulties can be especially frustrating. For them, making art helps satisfy the desire to communicate and share ideas. Creating art is always a wonderful, affirming, confidence-building form of expression — especially so for people whose other channels of communication and expression are not easy.”

Created in 2004, The Healing Arts: New Pathways to Health is a regional arts and healing program developed by the Vermont Arts Exchange, in partnership with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and a consortium of arts and healthcare organizations in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. This unique program uses the arts as an innovative new treatment method for patients living with chronic disabling diseases. Artist residencies and intergenerational workshops integrate technology, music, theater, dance, filmmaking, ceramics, painting, photography and printmaking into patient care, staff training and wellness programs.

The Healing Arts: New Pathways to Health is a collaborative effort involving artists, health administrators, and faculty and students from universities throughout New England. Participating healthcare sites include Tewksbury Hospital, in Tewksbury, Mass.; Crotched Mountain, in Greenfield, N.H.; and the Vermont Veterans Home, United Counseling Services and the Bennington School, all in Bennington, Vt.

For more information and to learn more about The Healing Arts Program, please visit For more information about this exhibit, call VAE at 802-442-5549 or visit For information about United Counseling Service of Bennington County, please call 802-442-5491 or visit

Thursday, February 18, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Two American Masters at BigTown Gallery in Rochester

BigTown Gallery is pleased to announce a simultaneous showing of works by the two American masters, Bernard Chaet (b.1924) and Charles Cajori (b.1921). For the breadth of exploration and depth of result long evident in each artist's work, they have both received Lifetime Achievement in Painting awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The exhibition of paintings, drawings, and prints--selected from work over the last five decades--offered by these two singularly distinctive master painters, presents a rare opportunity to the Vermont arts community. Both artists have lived, worked, and taught in New England for most of their lives. Bernard Chaet's landscape paintings include many painted in Vermont and along the Maine Coast. Charles Cajori is known chiefly for his abstraction of the figure; but this show includes paintings and drawings of both the figure and New England landscapes. These major New England artists are well known nationally, and are in many collections both in the US and abroad.

BigTown Gallery
99 North Main
Rochester, VT 05767

SUN 11-4 PM
MON & TUES by appointment


Images: Top left: Bathers with Tree, 1987, Charles Cajori; Bottom right: Bouquet in Cup, 2006, Bernard Chaet

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Art of Vermont at T.W. Wood in Montpelier

The public is invited to the opening reception of Art of Vermont-The State Collection at the Wood Gallery & Arts Center, on Wednesday evening - February 24th from 5-7pm. This is the final showing of the 20th Anniversary of the State's Art in Public Buildings initiative and some glorious work will be on view. Many of the artists, as well as State House luminaries, will be in attendance. The exhibit will be on view through April 18th so, even if you miss the reception, do come at your convenience.

Image: Desert Sage, oil on canvas, by Thelma Appel

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The Fifth Annual Northfield Art Show, sponsored by Paine Mountain Arts Council, will open at noon on Friday, February 26 at the Northfield Historical Society and Brown Public Library Community Room. An opening reception, open to the public, will be held at 7 PM in the Community Room, with parking available in the United Church lot. Hours for the exhibit are Friday, February 25, from Noon to 9 PM; Saturday, February 27, from 10 AM to 7 PM; and Sunday, February 28, from Noon to 4 PM. Donations will be accepted at the door. Visitors to the show will be able to purchase matted art work and art cards at the Artists' Corner, as well as original pieces of art in the main show.

This year's exhibit will feature 32 artists from Northfield and surrounding communities, including both nationally and statewide-known professionals as well as serious amateurs. Paintings, photographs, sculpture, pottery and fiber art pieces will display the extraordinary wealth of artistic talent in the community.

The 2010 show is dedicated to the memory of Louise Halsted and Brent Martin, who both passed away in the last year. Louise was a patron and supporter of the Northfield art scene, and her private collection included many pieces from local artists. Brent Martin was a talented artist that specialized in watercolors of Vermont’s old barns. Brent was a volunteer and participant in last year’s show.

Paine Mountain Arts is committed to the art show remaining a community event. It gives the professional artists an opportunity to exhibit in their home town, and serious amateurs the chance to have their work viewed by the public as well. It also gives the community an overview of the breadth and scope of artistic work going on in Northfield and surrounding towns, which is prodigious for a community of this size.

Many of the art show's past exhibitors will return this year, including nationally well-known illustrator and painter Rebecca Merrilees, watercolorist Kathy Ravenhorst-Adams; painters Gene Parent and Phyllis Greenway; basketry artist Tammy Wight; photographer Fred White; pastel artist Annie Gould; abstract artist Linda Berg Maney; fiber artist Pamela Druhen and folk-art sculptor Frank Drown. They and other past exhibitors will be joined this year by several newcomers to the show, including photographers Bonnie Gayle, Lloyd Klinger, Madonna Commo and Betty Rounds, painter John Hoag and artist Alexis Kyriak. Marilyn Solvay, curator of the Sullivan Museum and History Center at Norwich University, will be exhibiting some of her mixed media pieces. Northfield High School teacher Craig Wiltse will again be exhibiting his energetic, contemporary paintings.

The Art Show Committee, headed by Frank Drown, is made up of artists Robin LaHue, Kathy Ravenhorst-Adams, photographer Isabel Weinger Nielsen,

Bill Barnard and Fred White. Jim Jones will be leading the show set up, and Jeanne Cook is creating the program. Shirley Melville will be providing refreshments for the opening and the show will be manned by dozens of volunteers. Tom Clifford has once again designed a very special poster for the show. The poster has become a bit of a collectible item in the Northfield area.

images: Leap of Faith and Pisces by Robin LaHue

Friday, February 12, 2010

REVIEW: Wafaa Bilal at Helen Day Art Center

by Stephen Orloske

Remember eight years ago when the World Trade Center towers were felled on New York City by jetliners turned missiles and it's likely the recall of some mediated experience: a radio broadcast; the interrupted television; an abnormal email. And then the aftermath continued incessantly. Every day we awoke and combed rubble with CNN. We recounted the desperate stories off Morning Edition with coworkers. Our lives were so enwrapped by 9/11 that thinking back now we must check our memory and remind ourselves we had not stood there as that concrete cloud billowed toward us, a camera did.

So when you enter Wafaa Bilal: Agent Intellect at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe be little surprised that quotes from Jean Baudrillard, Slavoj Zizek and J.G. Ballard adorn the walls – a philosopher, a psychoanalyst and a writer who explicate the ways media is more “real” than reality. Their thinking certainly sets the analytical mind to the right tone, but a less visible, more pressing tidbit is that a drone strike, itself the most mediated warfare in Iraq, killed Bilal’s younger brother in 2004. Wafaa Bilal is Iraqi born and emigrated to the United States in ’92 as a refugee after refusing to participate in the Kuwait invasion. That the death of his brother was both committed and reported through the alienating distance of telecommunication answers why Bilal is obsessed with the struggle to feel and be felt with fiber optics.

Domestic Tension Redux (2007) is a documentation of Bilal’s conceptual piece where for a month he remained in an apartment fitted with paintball guns connected to the internet. Anyone could logon and “shoot an Iraqi.” Or chat with him. Half the space at Helen Day is a facsimile of the splattered bedroom with a speaker ticking off fired rounds. The other half contains photos,

webboard comments and a video looping highlights from Bilal’s video journal. Eight million people visited the original website. Some ridiculed him, others brought him aid. Bilal suffered 40,000 paintball lashes; that averages to one every minute. Domesic Tension was a success, it takes on torture, empathy, war, privacy, alienation… every avenue of thought shaped by a man perpetually the target of a firing squad. The exhibit effectively generates the anxiety of being in such a menacing space, something you can’t appreciate viscerally browsing online, but to explore all the content thoroughly you’ll have to anyway.

The Night of Bush Capturing: A Virtual Jihadi (2008) is the controversial work twice censored in the city of Troy, NY, and it’s disappointingly benign. Twice hacked from a lowbrow videogame Quest for Saddam, first by Al-qaeda, then by Bilal, Virtual Jihadi is nondescript and intensely virtual: buildings are cobbled from abstract shapes; keys float and glow; pea-green enemies hobble in beelines. That G.W.’s face is plastered everywhere only adds to the surrealism. And the game was lagged and jittery and too frustrating to play, which might go unmentioned if not for a card saying, “meet the artist at the end of the game.” Much of this trouble might be intentional, then again it might be the source (censor him in the name of satire!) it’s built from. That Virtual Jihadi is now a case for free speech while Modern Warfare 2 is in popular taste is a failure of culture, a failure at least illuminated in the hubbub.

The reason to visit is for Bilal’s new works Ashes and Mghaisil (Morgue). Ashes is a series of five large-format photos taken of dioramic constructs Bilal produces in his studio. They are reproductions of his memory or of iconic photographs from a bombed Iraq in minute scale. At first your interest is peaked by how they were made with stitched scraps of cloth, metal nibs and dollhouse furniture. But as you read and learn the dust is human ash and the background a New York City skyline the specter of 9/11 seethes into the photo’s workings, so when you step back

to gaze at the remains of a building that burst and crumbled over Baghdad it is with an emotion kept locked when watching the war update. And stepping into Mghaisil is like a chance to morn, or repent, this violence. Named and modeled after a funerary washroom in Iraq, its concrete slabs wet and oiled as though just used, the dim space silently permits anguish over the uncounted deaths buried in red tape, and, perhaps more so, that we cling to media even though, unlike standing in this morgue, it’s unable to bring empathy with its information.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I have been experimenting a little in my studio but until I am back in remission and get my energy back I can’t really get into any big projects. I do feel like I am getting better every day but it is a slow process. So I was grateful for a fun little project that came along called “Love letters to Obama”. It was brought to my attention on Facebook by my friend Delia Robinson.

My Obama Valentine was of course a silk painting. It is the statue of Liberty holding up a heart torch and a book of poems titled “To Obama with Love”. She is sitting upon rough seas and a darkened city is behind her. The painting represents Obama standing strong and helping us to navigate these st

ormy seas.

Love Letters to Obama was started by Vermont artist Callie Thompson as a way for people to show Obama their support for all he has done. The description Callie has posted in the information section of the projects Facebook page says:

We were there to help him get elected, now we need to step up and send him some love throughout his presidency!

Americans complained about Bush for eight years, now we've continued the same un-empowering, unhelpful cycle of complaining as soon as we feel that a leader is not doing exactly what each of us personally thinks they should have done by now. The truth is, the man needs some support. We worked together, in every grassroots method possible, to get Obama elected.

Now we need to keep up the support and honor his work as he fulfills the mandate we gave him.

Get involved again! In honor of this, for Valentine's Day, send a Valentine to Obama. Let's tell him we're still here to help. If your Valentine is particularly rad, put a photo of it up here.

Send the man some love:

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

And send them they did! Everyday there are new works of art posted on the page by Vermont artists who are creating Valentines and mailing them to Obama to show him their support. Like Callie says ”Get involved again! Send the man some love.”

Link to the Love Letters to Obama page on FB:

Link to an article published in Seven Days about the project:

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Linda Marcille

Crow House Studio

PRESS RELEASE: Robert Black Photographs at Carol's Hungry Mind Cafe in Middlebury

BRICK SERIES II, a show of photographs by Robert Black, will be on exhibit from January 15 - February 15 2010 at Carol's Hungry Mind Café, 24 Merchants Row, Middlebury, VT 05753 802-388-0101. Hours: M-F, 7AM-6PM; Sat/Sun, 9AM-6PM Website at

Robert Black is a local architect, artist and teacher with diverse experiences in sustainable architecture, group facilitation, and avante garde artistic presentations & performances. He teaches creative classes and lectures on various subjects from History through Architecture, to green design, to spirit in matter.

He says, “Brick has always fascinated me. It is a metaphor for life, with associations both mundane and transcendent. It is matter - clay - earthen in nature. Yet, to my eye and mind, it transcends into the realm of Spirit. I am inspired by the symbolism of a single brick in symbiosis with thousands of others. Moreover, the clay used to make bricks is a common material - found all over the world and used by diverse cultures throughout history.”

Saturday, February 6, 2010

REVIEW: In Memorium, Hugh Roberts at West Village Meeting House

by Arlene Distler

Hugh Roberts, a painter and one of Brattleboro’s seminal figures in the local arts scene, passed away suddenly this January.

Roberts helped to start the Windham Art Gallery, back in 1989, and was a member up until a couple of years ago. But he was, above all, an engaged, dedicated, and generous artist. Fortuitously, during the month of December Roberts had a one-person show at the gallery space in the Edwards Jones office on lower Main Street and it was extended through January as well. A comprehensive show of the artist’s work will hang at the West Village Meeting House through February. It incorporates the Jones show on one wall in the chapel and has work from the past decades in the vestibule and main meeting room.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Roberts’ paintings contributed much to the local collective artscape. His work has a distinct and unique flavor. His art captures the spiritual underpinning of so much of what this part of the world is about. One need only count the number of churches, Buddhist groups, and other religious entities, the degree of concern given to humanitarian issues, and the amount of charitable work that goes on, to see that Brattleboro has a strong and prominent spiritual life. This ethos was the lifeblood of Roberts’ work.

By all accounts a strongly spiritual, caring and generous individual, Roberts donated to the West Village Meeting House, home of the Unitarians and once home of the Jewish congregation Shir Heharim, seven of his large paintings. They are there on permanent display.

The paintings of Roberts that comprise the memorial show at West Village Meeting House have a unifying presence of light playing against darker elements, and Roberts’ attraction through the years to glowing metallic pigment. They seem to aim to give form to the ineffable. Never has this been expressed with more conviction, more natural ease, than in the artist’s show that has been moved over to West Brattleboro from Main Street.

There have been many strong paintings over the years, as attested to by the show in West Brattleboro. But when the artist was not on his game, the work could feel too amorphous. Spiritual, yes, but needing “teeth” – somehow, to bring that spirituality down to earth a bit so we have something to grasp, visually and experientially. In the nineties Roberts started incorporating architectural elements into the paintings, sometimes actual cornices or other pieces of buildings (Roberts has worked on and off as a carpenter). The hard edges, whether actual or painted, played against the atmospheric paint, and lent the work structure. There are several fine examples of this period at the Meeting House.

In his newest work, Roberts dispenses with the architectural element, but the work has retained a strong structure. The “scaffolding” is gone and the paintings shine forth with a brilliance and an inner logic that is masterful.

Roberts’ last show, the show at Edwards Jones, was comprised, aside from several larger paintings and a set of three miniatures, of the series, “Legend of El Dorado”. El Dorado is the mythical “city of gold” that led explorers to the new world. There are ten from this series that now hang in West Brattleboro.

The “El Dorado” paintings are made up of acrylic paint, tissue paper, and metal leaf on panel boards. These are delicate, elegant balancing acts that are lifted into the realm of the spiritual by virtue of their quiet dignity and centeredness. They luxuriate in color, what light does as it refracts off sun tones, or is negated and held back by darkness. Orange, white, and black paint is overlaid with gold, either speckled or in bands. In “El Dorado #10: Rio Grande Gorge”, a vertical area of ultramarine winds its way across the middle of the picture, dividing it diagonally, the blue a vivid relief to sun-parched hues.

Another of my favorites of this series is Legend of El Dorado #9, in which a gleaming square of gold seems to have cleft the picture into two sun-drenched precipices, or risen up from them. A small bright orange splash bursts forth near the center, relieving the restrained, angular lines.

Texture is very important to all of Roberts’ work through the years, which at times included collages of objects embedded in paint. In the El Dorado series it is achieved through the use of tissue paper that is crinkled, clumped, folded.

Dan Sherry, a long-time friend of Roberts’, and fellow artist, said they often went on museum excursions together, and that Roberts was as knowledgeable about art history as anyone he knows. “He knew some of the more art obscure history such as the Russian Constructivist movement. In fact he painted a whole series in homage to it. He knew the work of Malevich,

Rodchenko. It was great knowing someone like that. There were artists he loved, particularly George Innes (American 18th Century landscapist). Sometimes he imagined his own work to be close to Innes, but I would tell him, ‘No, it’s Turner!’…he was so atmospheric”. In the Edwards Jones show, it appears he has finally deferred to his friend and titled one painting, “Turneresque”. And indeed it is. Unlike most of the paintings in the show, whose palette I have already described, “Turneresque” is all silvery blues with hints, as in sunlight breaking through a mist, of pale yellow, the colors and tones similar to those Turner used in his many paintings of the canals of Venice, the ornate edifices lost in fog and mist.

Of work taken from Roberts’ archives, my personal favorites are “The Bridge”, reminding me of this beloved theme of Georgia O’Keefe’s, but this with much looser brushwork. And a relatively large abstract from 2005 with swashbuckling brushwork of bright yellow, orange, and ochre, audaciously imposed upon by two columns of black paint that rise from the bottom of the canvas and frame the dips and swirls.

At the far end of the main hall wall, perhaps 3 feet by 4 feet, is a wonderful painting from the architectural period. It contains concentric arches going from blue-grey to gold. Framed by the arches is a loosely sketched figure of a woman, her delicate hands, and the whole, like a jazz riff on a Renaissance altarpiece.

In some respects the “Legend of El Dorado” series feels like a fitting final bow if there had to be one. Elements long present in Roberts’ “oeuvre” are pulled together, taut, and accomplished.

Yet as a painter, Roberts was restless and curious and exploratory. His friend, fellow carpenter and artist Rick Zamore, confessed, with the tone of an affectionate and chiding older brother, “He was always going back and forth” (between realism and abstract), “and it drove me nuts. I wanted him to choose one thing or the other.” We can conjecture where he would have taken his art next. Says Dan Sherry, Roberts “loved pluralism…For an artist working out some esthetic in your paintings, going away from it, coming back…it’s like being in a warm bath.” Joe LoManoco, whose office has hosted this show, said, “Even as we hung the show, he was looking at his

paintings, finding new things.”

Perhaps his muse would have taken him further into the realm of the “field” painters, where the action on the canvas is almost imperceptible, where “Turneresque” seems to be headed, and the wonderful “Desert Flower”, made of mulberry bark, paper, and acrylics, its large round flower seeming to materialize before one’s eyes from its ochre and pale yellow “background”.

One thing is for sure. El Dorado may be a mythical place, but Roberts has given us true treasures – almost thirty years worth – testament to a rich and passionate creative life.

top image: "Untitled" 2 1/2'x 3 1/2'

middle left: "Untitled" approx 14"x11"

middle left below: ""Legend of El Dorado #10, The Gorge" approx 14"x11"

middle right: ""Legend of El Dorado # 9" approx 14"x11"
below: "Turneresque" approx 14"x11"

Used with permission - A slightly shorter version was published previously by The Commons in Brattleboro.

Friday, February 5, 2010

INTERVIEW/Press Release: Vermont Fine Art Gallery "10th Anniversary Winter Show”

Interview with gallery owner/artist Elisabeth Wooden-Prior

by Writer/Editor Dawn Abraham:

*Question- What were some of your first thoughts at the realization of Vermont Fine Art Gallery’s 10th Year Anniversary?

Elisabeth- “Time has passed so quickly & through some unprecedented events in history, & we’re still here!”

*Question- Are there artists who have been with you the entire time?

Elisabeth- “There have been and to name a few Bob Aiken, Carolyn Walton, Gary Eckhart & Peter Miller. We have also celebrated as our gallery artists have won national awards & international recognition & publication, including Vermont artists Gary Eckhart, Skye Forest & most recently Mark Boedges.”

*Question- What are some of the gallery highlights of the last 10 years?

Elisabeth- “I am proud of the art scholarships we did with Vermont State Colleges. Occasionally several of the artists, my son & I reminisce about the fun of exhibiting at Art Expo in New York City. There is also much excitement about our exhibits at the mountain. There has even been some romance, one of my sculptors is now engaged to my close friend.”

*Question- What are some things you remember that people have said about your gallery?

Elisabeth- “My customers often compliment the diversity & quality of the artwork, how much they enjoy the atmosphere & affability during their visits and that it is their favorite. It is not uncommon for there to be an artist painting right on site here in the gallery, clients love the opportunity it affords to meet the artist; and, take in some of the culture of Vermont.”

*Question- And some last words?

Elisabeth- “Inspiration; being blessed with the opportunity to live the passion of art in such a beautiful place as Stowe. Serendipity; how we got this far with the gallery, Perseverance & Faith; how we live and look to the future. And then a Prediction; it is time for something new in the art world, a changing of the avant-guard, so to speak!“

Join the celebration, of Vermont Fine Art Gallery's "10th Year Anniversary Winter Show" & soiree. Saturday Feb. 13th, 2010 5-7pm. Featuring the group show of the season, with exciting new works of art, including gallery artists: Mark Boedges, Bob Aiken, Gary Eckhart, Meryl Lebowitz, David Tanych, Michael McGovern, Tom Torak, Peter Miller, Skye Forest, Jeff Clarke, Jack Sabon, Jane Ashley, Lisa Angell, Blake Larsen, Frank Califano, Bob Carsten, Allen Dwight, Suzanne Clark, Carolyn Walton, Joshua Lucier & owner artist Elisabeth Wooden-Prior.

Meet the artists, enjoy hors d'oeuvres & live music with singer Taryne Noelle, Chris Peterman on the saxophone and keyboardist Dan Skea.

Vermont Fine Art Gallery

1880 Mountain Rd. #3 Stowe Vt. 802-253-9653

"10th Anniversary Winter Show”

Celebrating 10 years with feature & group shows through the season -

IMAGE: 'Mt Mansfield Snow' original oil by Mark Boedges

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

EVENT REVIEW: Jonathan Blow at Firehouse Gallery

by Stephen Orloske

While the pressure of an ever connected culture presses leisure time into units of multitasked consumption, videogames use the tools which distract us (anything with a chipset) to become a medium so engrossing anything else that blinks or beeps gets shut out. Take a look at the portraits of Phillip Toledano’s Gamers and their bestial grins seem like defiant gestures against the languid stare multimedia surfing normally elicits (Check yourself in the webcam. Yep, that’s the face.). But there is an uneasiness when looking at these portraits, as though you’re standing too close to some primal zealot. Perhaps all that sneering, teeth sucking and tongue curling seems especially barbaric knowing it’s all been drawn out just by having thumbs on a virtual peashooter and that these people have been tricked into rapturous states (and out sixty bucks) by games that are no more than hyper-Pavlovian experiments. Just one zombie-alien slugfest or benumbing pachinko simulator after another. There isn’t much else, right? Well, the “else” is being played at the Firehouse Gallery.

Take another moment and play the ’93 shooter classic Doom (but come back). Seventeen years later and most videogames have yet to innovate from this basic run, gun and reward formula. Now go play something Burlington City Arts put up, like Jason Rohrer’s Passage (come on, download it). Still using mazes and treasure (and a princess), but with fewer pixels and one less spatial dimension, Passage compels the player to contemplate life, love and death within five minutes, while Doom and its clones belabor the reptilian wisdom of spawn, kill and score for hours (or even days). What raises a videogame above the libidinal horizon most aspire to is a neglected question. And one vocal game designer self-tasked (or masochistically cursed) with trying to define why videogames are a unique and vital art form recently spoke as part of the Game(life) exhibit and lecture series: Jonathan Blow.

Even before the critical and popular success of his game Braid, Jonathan Blow spoke up about the way videogames abuse their own potential (like the monotony of Warcraft). To summarize his lesson (I’ll be bold), get your head out of that Hollywood muck. Basically, they have yet to realize it’s the game which conveys meaning, not the cutscenes peppered along the way. A videogame may doll you up and call you a knight, but then you end up clobbering chickens for a dozen hours. Is that what knights do? Braid, for example, is all about memory and it conveys this by having you naturally rewind and reattempt each puzzle, always reassessing what you’ve done to figure out how you’ll progress. The potential of a videogame isn’t in words or images, like a book or a movie, it’s in the dynamic rules that tell the player how to participate. And videogames are unique because they can make physical what we understand only abstractly by creating relationships with things normally outside our perception, like time and ecology (or the economy).

When Jonathan Blow sat down in the Firehouse Gallery this past Saturday no one needed to be preached to. Most of the chairs were filled with students studying game design at Champlain College and they were obviously tired of morons making videogames (otherwise they’d be at a party). So after Blow displayed a few sketches of his next game he told them the challenge videogames face if they want to be respected as art. He started with cinema, which took decades to stop treating the screen like a stage. And while most movies still tell infantile stories dressed up in adult themes, there has always been a sliver of serious films that make cinema a vital part of our culture. But comic books, which also began a century ago, never got taken seriously. The industry was too busy scribbling dudes in tights to score kids’ lunch money to consider what potential those

brightly colored panels had. Even with some sterling exceptions (Didn’t Maus win a Pulitzer?) the public considered comics just an adolescent phase. Which is troublesome for videogames because they’ve been labeled “for kids” since the seventies. And the recent success convincing adults to play videogames on the (oh, so aptly named) Wii is by emphasizing how well they keep you occupied rather than, say, emotionally invested. As though videogames are not supposed to be life changing, just part of a distracted routine. (Isn't that routine just like a bad videogame?). And Blow pointed out, all this idiocy has videogames in a narrow box, might as well “push on the boarders and see what we can do.”

Don’t miss local videogame designer RANDY SMITH, Saturday 2/06 at the Firehouse Gallery, where the works of JASON ROHRER, JONATHAN BLOW, RANDY SMITH, PAOLO PEDERCINI, JENOVA CHEN, PETRI PURHO, JAKUB DVORSKY, HEATHER KELLEY, AURIEA HARVEY, MARK ESSEN and MICHAEL SAMYN are on display until February 13th.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Group art show of new video, photography, sound art, painting and installation by

Nancy Dwyer

Steve Budington

Caroline Byrne

Nicholas Campolo

Tarrah Krajnak

Chris Thompson

Walker Blackwell

OPENING 6:00pm February 5th to February 30th


22 Church Street, 2nd Floor

Burlington, Vermont 05401


PRESS RELEASE: Exhibitions by Cynthia Beth Rubin, and Lia Rothstein at at Photostop Gallery


CONTACT: Lia Rothstein, 802.698.0320

Lia Rothstein will be showing toned black and white photographs in a show titled “Auschwitz-Birkenau 2009” in the PHOTOSTOP Corridor Gallery from Feb. 5 - March 6, 2010. This exhibit will run in tandem with “Memories & Wanderings”, digital art by Cynthia Beth Rubin, which will be exhibited in the main PHOTOSTOP Gallery during the same time period. An opening reception for both shows will be held on Feb. 5th from 6-9 pm.

“Auschwitz 2009” examines issues of remembrance, memory, destruction and rebirth

after the Holocaust. Rothstein, who directs the PHOTOSTOP Gallery, is a career photographer who has exhibited throughout the eastern United States. Her work is in numerous private and public collections, including the Polaroid International Exhibition Collection.

PHOTOSTOP Gallery is located in Suite 150 of the Tip Top Media Arts Building, 85 North Main Street, White River Jct., VT 05001. Gallery hours are Weds. through Saturday from 2-7:30 pm. On First Fridays and opening nights, the gallery will be open until 9 pm. Other hours are available by appointment.


CONTACT: Lia Rothstein, 802.698.0320

Cynthia Beth Rubin, a renowned digital media artist, will be showing digital paintings/collages and an interactive sound and image installation in a show titled “Memories & Wanderings” at the PHOTOSTOP Gallery from February 5 through March 6, 2010. An opening reception for the artist will be held on February 5th from 6-9 pm with a gallery talk by Rubin at 7:30 pm.

Rubin’s exhibition will include a variety of electronically based artworks, including an installation called “Layered Histories: The Wandering Bible of Marseilles” created in collaboration with Bob Gluck. This interactive installation combines moving images and sounds triggered by a visitor’s use of a stylus moved across a digital tablet, illustrating the imaginary story of an actual 13th century Spanish illuminated Hebrew Bible. Fleeing Spain with the 1492 Expulsion, the Bible was known to be in Safed until the mid-16th century, but then apparently disappeared until it was discovered around 1888 in the Bibliothèque Municipale in Marseilles. “Layered Histories” has been shown at Yale University, in major cities in the U.S., and at the Jewish Museum in Prague, Czech Republic.

In addition, Cynthia Rubin will be exhibiting works from several series combining digital drawings and photography. Her “ Glen Memories: 40 Years of Wandering” series is based on pen and ink drawings and photographs taken over a forty-year period in the same locations. She will also be showing selected works from her career, including digital paintings and collages based on themes from Eastern European history.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Rubin will be teaching a workshop “Rivers of Pixels: Fluid Animations from Still Images” on March 6th from 10-4 pm. Contact PHOTOSTOP for registration information.

Rubin’s work has been written about in publications throughout the world and she is a frequent lecturer at national and international graphic and digital art conferences. She is currently affiliated with the Rhode Island School of Design and is involved in the boards of ISEA, the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts and SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques). She is a three-time recipient of an individual artist grant in New Media from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and has received numerous other grants and awards. Cynthia has exhibited in Brazil, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands and her work is found in many public and private collections.

PHOTOSTOP Gallery is located in Suite 150 of the Tip Top Media Arts Building, 85 North Main Street, White River Jct., VT 05001. Gallery hours are Weds. through Saturday from 2-7:30 pm. On First Fridays and opening nights, the gallery will be open until 9 pm. Other hours are available by appointment.

images: "Auschwitz-Birkenau entrance, view from inside camp 2009" toned black and white photo by Lia Rothstein

"Glen Memories: Stepping Stones (state 7)" by Cynthia Beth Rubin