Saturday, September 15, 2012

BURLINGTON: 2012 SEABA Art Hop South of Marble Avenue

by Rob Hitzig

I love the Art Hop. I love the diversity of art; the mix of professional and amateur artists; seeing large crowds of people looking at art; seeing families expose young children to art; the energy generated by activities surrounding the art; but most of all, I love the search for the great piece discovered in the unexpected space. So when I was asked to write about a section of the Art Hop, I said, sure, I'm game. And when I realized (about two hours into my first day) that being assigned everything south of Marble Avenue meant having to cover over two-thirds of show, I was a little intimidated (given that meant viewing thousands of works) but it was still early and I had a can-do spirit. 

But then, after two days, and over eight hours of viewing, at my last few venues, I was, admittedly, getting a little fried (to put it mildly). A viewing haze had set in and I was getting ready to pack it up and call it good enough, especially after climbing the steps to the third floor of Champlain College's Miller Building and finding the door locked. I peered through the door window and didn't see anything that looked interesting so I thought I would be justified to not try the elevator. But I promised I'd at least pass by everything so up I went once more. And then, as the doors opened, I had that revelation again of what I really love about the Art Hop. Staring in front of me (out of sight from the stairway door window) were six spectacular large scale (48" x 48") charcoal portraits on quarter-inch construction grade plywood by Matt Ryan. Expertly executed and done with a confidence and courage that surpasses paintings on canvas (mistakes are not an option on this surface), I was elated to find something this good in such an unassuming hallway.
Abe by Matt Ryan
Sylvia by Matt Ryan

In addition to randomly finding great work in unexpected places, I've found that a good Art Hop experience is facilitated by knowing where to go when you need to see something you know will be good. Two of my favorite venues south of Marble Avenue that fit that bill are RL Photo and Select Design. Neither disappointed me this time. RL Photo is a photo studio owned by Rick Levinson, where there was a show of the impressive artistic side of Rick and his employees. And I always seem to find some new, and great, work by Clark Derbes,
Last Stand by Clark Derbes
but what I really enjoyed were the high quality portraits by Todd Lockwood in his show, One Degree of Separation. My favorite of the group was this one, Claude, because of the clarity and detail in the foreground with a very narrow range of focus that quickly fades. 
Claude byTodd Lockwood

At Select Design I saw a number of great pieces but, in particular, I loved these two by the late Mickey Welsh. His style is distinctively uninhibited and full of energy. I didn't need a label to know they were his (and I never found one for the second piece).

Blown Around Brightness by Mickey Welsh
title unknown by Mickey Welsh
Also at Select Design was this beautiful wooden surfboard by Grain Surfboard, made with Vermont bird's-eye maple, white cedar, and red cedar.

Also in the same general complex, in the Flynn Dog Gallery, was work by Chris Cleary.
Neptune by Chris Cleary
Other random highlights included seeing Paige Berg Rizvi's encaustic work (winner of third place in the Art Hop juried show this year) in the cavernous maze of studios in the Howard Street building
Paige Berg Rizvi
At the entrance of the Maltex building, you can also see the expertly executed photorealistic charcoal/casein paintings of juried show second place winner, Gabriel Tempesta. He had three pieces, including this spectacular owl (be prepared: it takes a good deal of effort to confirm for yourself that it is not a photograph).
Owl in Flight by Gabriel Tempesta
Back across the street, in Speeder & Earl's, I found some really interesting porcelain work by Alex Costantino.
Robot Soldier by Alex Costantino
 And in the E-1 Collective Studios, behind Speeder & Earl's, for just the weekend, Dan Siegel, of DanMade Pottery, was selling his unique stoneware.
DanMadePottery by Dan Siegel
Back in the hellaciously-difficult-to-navigate Howard Street studio building, on the second floor, I found really great work by Nancy Dwyer. She was featuring wallpaper made with phrases that she modified to create a design. She would then enlarge and frame a section to hang on the wall, and, most interestingly, she would take a section of the art-phrase out of the picture and make a three dimensional object with it.
Not Dead Yet (wallpaper and framed art) by Nancy Dwyer
Below is a combination of the last letters of each word in the phase "Not Dead Yet" turned into a sculpture.
Not Dead Yet (sculpture) by Nancy Dwyer
While wandering around the maze of studios behind the SEABA office, I ran into Wylie Garcia and got to see her latest Art Hop Dress. Each year, since 2007, Wylie has created a walking exhibit that can only be seen on the Friday of Art Hop. This year she made a dress out of four of her grandmother's swing dancing skirts.
Art Hop 2012 Dress by Wylie Garcia
I found this interesting, and ironic, silk screen skateboarder over a silk screened Che, by Guy Derry, in the hallway to RETN/VCAM Studios.

Live Free or Die by Guy Derry
Also in the RETN/VCAM Studios I saw Jim Bruce's work for the first time. I like his work but what I found really interesting is that whenever I saw more of his work I would note that I liked it, look at the label, see it was Jim's and think, "of course!"
The Hanging of Bridget and Susannah by Jim Bruce
More of his work can be seen at Burton Snowboard.

Betty by Jim Bruce
I had the same experience with the ghostly work of Lorraine Reynolds, whose pieces can also be seen at Burton Snowboard as well as Vintage Inspired Lifestyle Marketplace

Salisbury Sisters by Lorraine Reynolds
If you were to ask me where to find more of Lorraine's work, I'd tell you that you can also find it in the Space Gallery's 20 Medium Show (in the Soda Plant), though you didn't hear it here because that was outside my zone of review.