Monday, June 18, 2012

REVIEW: Max Van Pelt at the Chelsea Library

by Dian Parker

As I went to check out a book from my local library in Chelsea, my eye was drawn to an art work hanging on the wall over a stack of books. The abstract painting was rich with color; cerulean blue, red oxide, crimson, ochre, and bright orange. The colors were connected by black crossing lines.

The Concurrency Series: Untitled paintings from 2011-2012 by Max Van Pelt are rife with deep color and evocative images. I saw folded paper, hidden staircases, waterfalls, doorways and stringed instruments. The medium used was also intriguing; soft pastel, graphite, liquid cement color, paper, oil paint, tape, pen and walnut ink. Walnut ink has a deep, rich brown color that stands out in paintings. It is made from the green husk surrounding the nut of a walnut. The ink can be obtained in a liquid form or in crystals which are mixed with water. The juice from walnut husks was used extensively throughout history as a dye; it is colorfast, lightfast and virtually no solvent removes it from skin. Note: in the Middle Ages walnut ink was used to stain the hands of criminals in gypsy communities since it remains in the skin for a long time. Quelle terrible mal├ędiction!

The 15 paintings in this solo show at the Chelsea Library are muscular, looking as though they've been worked standing up with focused intention. They feel architectural and the colors vigorous. The artist is a craftsman as well as a painter and I wanted to know more about who he is.

Max Van Pelt is a recent graduate of Dartmouth College, Summa Cum Laude, 2011. He studied studio art with a concentration in Architecture. Currently he is an intern and special instructor at the Dartmouth College Department of Studio Art. This past winter he had his first solo show at the Barrows Exhibition Rotunda at the Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hanover. There he exhibited one of his 2012 sculptures, Responding, made of steel, VT white marble, concrete, graphite, wood, fly fishing mono-filament, ink, nylon webbing, found object and masonry twine. The steel sculpture is intricately welded; a simple, elegant statement in balance and design in spite of it large size, 13 x 13 x 7.5 feet.

At the end of June, Van Pelt will be in a two person show, Perspectives on Design at the Jaffe-Friede Gallery in Hanover. In July he is part of a group outdoor sculpture exhibition at the Cider Hill Gardens and Gallery in Windsor.

Van Pelt's work is compelling. You can feel his exuberance in creating. He is someone to look out for. I think we will be hearing a great deal about this young artist in the future. The Chelsea Library and its art coordinator, Peter Calore, are to be commended for showing a new and upcoming artist that is worthy of a one man show.

Unfortunately the show is only up till June 21 so don't dally too long in your gardens.
Flowering jewels can also be found hanging on the walls of our local libraries.

Image: Untitled, 2012. Soft pastel, ink, graphite, highlighter pencil, liquid cement color walnut ink, tape, pen, Reeves BFK paper. 26 x 22.25 inches

This review was first published in the Randolph Herald on 6/14/12 and is used with their permission.