Monday, September 5, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Erika Lawlor Schmidt at Equinox Village in Manchester Center

On Fire: Erika Lawlor Schmidt at Equinox Village

The Gallery at Equinox Village and the Greater Manchester Arts Council are pleased to host an exhibit of Erika Lawlor Schmidt ’s collages and sculpture from September 22 – October 17, 2011. The Gallery, which is located at 49 Maple Street in Manchester Center, is open from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily. The opening of Schmidt’s exhibit is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 22, 2011. The event is free and open to the public. Visitors can view the artwork, meet the artist, enjoy live music from the artist’s husband Gary Schmidt—who is a classical and jazz pianist—and taste hors d’oeuvres from the Equinox Village kitchen. Kindly R.S.V.P. to (802) 362-4061.

The Gallery at Equinox Village is accustomed to hosting landscape painters. The big buttery-yellow walls are frequently decked with beautiful paintings of scenes one might see on a drive through the region. Unlike artists featured until now, the featured artist for September Erika Lawlor Schmidt, answers not “What does the landscape look like?” but rather “What does it feel like to be in the landscape, under my feet and above?”

Schmidt recently moved from central Florida to southern Vermont with her husband Gary Schmidt. Her latest series of collages and prints are informed by the seasons and the ever-changing light of New England. To Schmidt, art is always affected by the particular geography in which it was created. “It’s about time and place. You can’t be false. [The work is] colored by New England and the history that is here.”

But Vermont is not her only inspiration; nor is making collages and prints her only art forms.

Artist Erika Lawlor Schmidt says, “You have to love what you’re doing like your pants are on fire.” The breadth and volume of her work suggests that she lives by that advice. She makes fine art collages, operates a public printmaking studio, leads a performance art group, choreographs, teaches, travels … you name it.

Her accomplishments speak to her ferocity. Schmidt has been a guest artist at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; the University of Miami in Florida; Elon University, N.C.; and Castleton College, Vermont. Her prints and collages have been widely exhibited at different venues, including the Lincoln Center Gallery in New York City; the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Fl.; the Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, Fl.; among many others. Her work is included in the private and public collections of these institutions and many others. Among the numerous awards she has received acknowledging her unique approach to art and multi-media theater are accolades at international dance festivals in Prague, Czech Republic (1999); Cercena, Italy (2001); and Barcelona, Spain (2006).

Schmidt received both her Bachelor and Master’s of Fine Art from the University of South Florida in Tampa. While a graduate student, she founded the Vital Spark Performance Group, a collaborative interdisciplinary ensemble that has traveled to major U.S. cities and throughout Europe.

She is also influenced by Zen philosophy and Indian metaphysics, of which she is a student. "There is an understanding in Eastern art and philosophy," she says, "of how form emerges from empty space,” Schmidt explains. “The impulse to fill up space is not important." Viewers will notice open space, asymmetry, disregard for perfection, and reverence for the natural.

Equinox Village is a vibrant independent living community situated on eleven pristine acres in the heart of the Green Mountains’ rich cultural and recreational opportunities. Residents enjoy private, spacious apartments with exquisite views and fine dining in the community’s full-service white-tablecloth restaurant. Well-appointed common areas provide ideal places to meet family and friends and to participate in cultural events, health and wellness programs, and educational opportunities. Equinox Village was founded in 2006 by brothers Dr. Jim Russell and John Russell. They lead a team of caring professionals to offer the premier independent living experience in the region.

The Greater Manchester Arts Council, Inc., a regional arts organization, is committed to engaging community in creative partnerships that enhance life-style and long-term economic stability. Their aim is to provide abundant opportunities for the community—artists, writers, performers, educators, residents and visitors—to become involved with the arts. They sponsor and promote the Southern Vermont Arts Trail, the Manchester and the Mountains Poets and Writers Weekend, and many partnerships throughout the region.

Images: Nest, 2011; Intoxicated by Birds, 2009, collage and acrylic paint. Rives B.F.K. 36" x 48"; the mystery never leaves us, 2009, collage, 4" x 6" (from the Holiday at Yellowstone series)