Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CARTOON: Why Artists Go Mad

By Robert Waldo Brunelle Jr.


PRESS RELEASE: Recent Paintings of Dan Gottsegen

Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery of Shelburne, will be showing "Recent Paintings of Dan Gottsegen" May 1-June 9, 2009.

Gottsegen, who resides in Woodstock, VT, has a long history of working in and studying the natural environment that is strongly reflected in his paintings. Many of the recent oils, while retaining elements of realism in the landscape, are conceived as collages of juxtaposed images to better represent the physical and spiritual explorations that are involved in their conception.

"Much of my earlier painting emerged from my work for over a decade trapping, banding, measuring, and releasing hawks in California to study their migration patterns. My involvement in this study was born out of many strange and intense encounters with owls and hawks that I had been having for years. My work was also influenced by week or longer, completely solitary hikes that I took far into the wilderness of the high Sierra, traveling miles off marked trails, camping and painting alone above ten-thous

and feet (something I have always done).

... I am interested in the tension and duality between our romantic conceptions of nature and the reality of the potential environmental calamities we are facing. I seek to embody this tension in my work by the use of technology (video that I shoot) to derive image sources, or in recent work (the “Die Wanderungen” series) by juxtaposing images.

My recent work is inspired by my return to the Northeast after living for twenty years in Northern California. It varies from smaller (8 x 10 inches), more abstract pieces to larger (80 x 72 inches) paintings....

Working is for me a physical and even a spiritual exploration. It is improvisatory and often revelatory."

Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery is located at 86 Falls Road,in Shelburne

Village. Hours are Tue-Fri 9:30-5:30, and Sat 10-5. For more information

please call Joan Furchgott, 802-985-3848, or go to

ABOVE RIGHT: "Walking", oil, 38" x 38" 

ABOVE: "Season Suite", oil, 59" x 65"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Robert Brunelle at Red Square in May

There will be an opening at Red Square on Church St. in Burlington Friday, May 1, 5-8 p.m. for a solo exhibition by painter Robert Brunelle.

The opening will also be a book release party for a new book about the Northern Vermont Artists Association, published by Kasini House. The NVAA is the state's oldest arts organization, and Brunelle is its long-serving president.

Monday, April 27, 2009

REVIEW: Heidi Broner at Governor’s Office

By Janet Van Fleet

Heidi Broner’s exhibit, entitled AT WORK, shows men at work in a variety of blue collar jobs. The workers all have tools (shovels, rakes, floats, mallets) in these acrylic on canvas paintings, and appear in a misty atmosphere in which only the task itself seems in focus – an experience familiar to all hard workers, whatever their gender or collar color.

Two large paintings showing solitary workers on their knees are particularly strong, and ethereal at the same time. In Spreading Cement (40 x 60") the worker, kneeling on the edge of a crumbling cement island or continent, touches his float with just his fingertips. Brickwork (Sidewalk) shows a kneeling man on a raft of bricks, tamping them into place with a wooden mallet held with a similarly light touch. A blue shadow falls out the bottom of the painting like running water. Both of these paintings evoke the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.

Another of the six large canvases on display is Burn Site (40 x 30"), with two slender men shoveling the charred remains of a building into three white plastic buckets. There are small red flecks and reflections on the buckets, suggesting that the charcoal is still hot.

There are also mid-sized paintings (such as Asphalt 1, which has a much busier composition that makes the eye flit around and not quite find a place of interest or repose), as well as a number of tiny paintings (in the 4x5" range). Asphalt (Green) (8x8") features the Roadwork crew from the exhibit card, with the same elegiac golden background and square format.

Heidi Broner is a masterful painter who celebrates (in both this and other work, such as a previous series of paintings featuring a walk in the country with a dog) daily-ness and iconic human activities. Somehow she also manages to express, at the same time, a more elevated, otherworldly experience. This may the sign of a great artist.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

REVIEW: Thomas Mulholland, Bulletins From Neptune

By Theodore Hoppe

Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe wrote in his essay, What is art...What is an artist, "Art can be many things and one example may look quite different from the next. But something called ‘art’ is common to all." He goes on to say, "For art to be an effective instrument of social betterment, it need(s) to be understood by as many people as possible." It is in this vein that Thomas Mulholland has created Bulletins From Neptune.

Just about everything about Bulletins from Neptune is surprising. For starters, instead of displaying his art in an art gallery, Mulholland took an unconventional approach and transformed an unoccupied store at 13 Main Street in Montpelier into his own gallery for a month.

The show itself is about bulletins and bulletin boards. A bulletin board is a place where people leave public messages to advertise things to buy or sell or announce events. It is Mr. Mulholland's idea that bulletin boards take on the unintended and accidental qualities of a collage construction. Bulletin boards as an art form, a merging of both words and visual art, draws on the work by the cubist Georges Braque in paintings such as "Pedestal Table."

Bulletin boards can also provide information. Teachers use them effectively to make their classrooms visually appealing and stimulating to students. It is in this way that Mulholland, as teacher and artist, chooses to display both drawings and thoughts. The walls of the store space have been filled with large cobalt blue bulletin boards surrounded with simple burnt sienna wood frames. In another surprise, half the them, the ones along the left side, are intentionally blank, creating a stark minimalist feel to the space. The spaces along the right side of the space are filled with "bulletins" collected over the past fifteen years. These drawings are about complex and perplexing notions, the quiet ecstasy of a germinating seed, a brief philosophical kiss. There are words that dance, lines that whisper. All have a simple, clean and graceful manner.

The artist has some other surprises too: Some of the blank bulletin boards will be filled in as the show progresses. There is a design drawing for a granite sculpture that was proposed as a war memorial for the front of Montpelier City Hall. There is a sculpture of a chair made out of copper and copper plumbing pipe. There is a piece of a tree resting on a bed of smooth stones in the store's front window, the artist's homage to a tree that lived a poetic life.

In all, there is much more here than meets the eye. Thomas Mulholland is answering the questions, "What is art...What is an artist?" in a way that is as open as Main Street.

Bulletins from Neptune will be at 13 Main St. in Montpelier until May 10, 2009. The hours are Thur.-Fri. 5-9 P.M., Sat. 3-8 P.M. & Sun. 2-6 P.M.

Monday, April 20, 2009

STUDIO SPACE: Gray Building in Northfield

Two north facing classrooms available July 1st in the historic and newly renovated Gray Building in Northfield.

Large airy classrooms (30'x30'), $775 each, perfect to share with several artists. Located on Route 12 in Northfield village. North light, tall ceilings, views, attached small office.

Come tour a working studio of 5 artists, and ask questions.
  • Fully accessible, elevator
  • Ample parking
  • Shared full kitchen
  • All utilities included
Call Kerri at 802-279-8981 for more information.

REPRINT: "Paintings For The Palate" from the Hardwick Gazette

by David K. Rodgers

HARDWICK — Artist Marie LaPré Grabon has a show of about a dozen works at Claire’s Restaurant, paintings and drawings that at first glance appear to be quite simple but remind us of the sculptor Brancusi’s enjoinder, “We arrive at simplicity in art in spite of ourselves by doing what is fundamental.”
   In her graphic work she makes fine use of the subtle possibilities of charcoal on the slightly textured surface of hand-made papers in varied shades from black to light grays. With graphite, her sparse lines capture the stark contrasts of trees and snow of winter landscapes. Many of the latter works were done this winter when she was home-bound recoveringfrom an operation, and they have a psychological component in addition to the representational.
   In her oils, oil
 pastels and acrylics LePré Grabon creates bold areas of unmixed colors that jostle each other in well balanced compositions. The colors themselves are used in an abstract way, not necessarily that of the “real” objects, much like the artists of the Blue Rider movement and the later German Expressionists of the 1920s. As in her black and white drawings, there are a lot of dynamic visual movements in her compositions. These often lead our eyes to the top of the painting, but with some counterpoint in horizontal and downward pointing forms. These vigorous movements well express the rhythmic energies of nature, the deeper unseen but powerful forces of life.
   LePré Grabon effectively combines the freedom of abstraction with recognizable landscape forms, but still retains something of the spontaneity and delight of children’s art. This is perhaps symbolized by the circle of the sun the young frequently 
put in their drawings and paintings and which is a common motif in her work; a reminder of what we all too often forget, that we are part of an infinite universe. Many of these drawings and paintings are based on local landscapes around Hardwick, where LePré Grabon lives, or are a more general celebration of the beauty of each season in Vermont. And this underlying joyousness (especially in her colors) is reflected in the last sentence of her artist’s statement: “The best part of making art objects is that we, as artists, are doing what we absolutely and passionately love to do.”
   This show of LePré Grabon’s work will continue at Claire’s until the end of May. For more information, go www.marielapré

images- Paintings by Marie LaPré Grabon
above: The Upper Field  Oil on paper  24x36"
right: Field in East Hardwick   Oil on canvas  24x36"
drawing: Study/Gold Brook   Charcoal on paper   18x24"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: WalkOver Gallery in Bristol

"This spring marks the five year milestone of the WalkOver Gallery.  We are celebrating this fact in several ways.  Kit Donnelly was our first exhibiting artist and she returns five years later with an exhibition of recent works.  The opening and reception will be held on Friday, May 1, 2009 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  The Exhibition runs from May 1, 2009 through June 19, 2009.  

WalkOver Gallery Exhibitions in its Fifth Year:

* May1st - June 19th - Recent works of Kit Donnelly
* June 20th - July 10th - Juried photography show (a National Juried Exhibition Sponsored by the Vermont Photography Workplace)
*July 11th - August 30th - Ray Hudson, printmaker
* September 4th - October 31st - WalkOver Artists' Retrospective - Each artist who has had a solo show may choose to submit 2 pieces for this special five year anniversary exhibition.  It will be interesting to find out what has happened to artists since their time here at the gallery.*Nov - Dec.  CALL TO ARTISTS - The WalkOver Gallery Really Good Shoe Show - will be a fun exhibition and an open invitation to all artists interested, to submit renderings of the shoe.  

The WalkOver Gallery has had a wonderful five years.  The walls embrace the art placed on them. Generously proportioned walls, the glow from the northern light of the arching window, the fine architectural details of the old building, the imagination of the artists, all merge into sharing artistic vision and renderings."

ABOVE: Paintings by Kit Donnelly

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Interview by Riki Moss with Diane Gabriel

RM: You've had a memorable career working in different media: stuffed dolls, soft sculpture, metal sculpture, monoprints, books, drawing, photography - your holga prints are currently exhibited at 215 College Street. What strikes me is a similarity of vision that is clear, focused, and yet at the same time mysterious and dark no matter what material you use.

DG: I had a rich, dramatic childhood. My work comes from my experiences and my memories of them.

I work in different mediums because it never occurred to me that I couldn't or shouldn't. In this I was influenced by my dad. He was the kind of man who tinkered, he fixed cars, kept up a small boat in Sheepshead Bay. Together we made sinkers, melting lead on the kitchen stove, we scrapped barnacles, sanded and varnished the boat. I was the oldest kid, there were no sons, so we did these sort of things together. At the same time he was a very large, difficult, demanding man, very critical, and controlling. I had a lot of practice watching, observing and being sensitive to his moods. When I was fourteen he suffered the first of many illnesses which further added to the drama, (some might say trauma), in our home.

My mom is a remarkable person. She is very cultured with enormous energy, stamina and imagination. She has always encouraged my work. The outings I most remember with her were going to the library and seeing foreign films. I was not so much a Disney kid as a Bergman one. My mom was always reading as was my grandmother to whom I was very close. Being a French Jew born so soon after the Holocaust also had a great impact on me.

RM: Are you playing with time? I'm thinking of the sculpture of the child's shoe, I'm thinking of this little girl in front of the tree frozen in time. I'm thinking of several dark, scary photos of kids at play who seem far older than their years.

DG:As I age time becomes more and more important to me. My memories seem richer, more real than today. The world of today is moving too fast to make memories. It feels transitory to me. I don't know why this is so. The best I can do is to make art, make something solid and real. In its nature photography always references time.

The shoe to which you refer is made of tea bags, encaustic and hawthorns. It was included in an exhibition titled, Fairy Tales and Other Assumptions, my commentary on the War in Iraq. Tea has been my drink of choice and I've saved teabags for many years. At first it was the shades of brown they made when dried that interested me. However, when opened each teabag reveals a particular pattern unique to that tea bag, that period of time. I came to think of them a little maps of time. Incidentally, (or maybe not), it is the used tea from the bags I used to tone the photographs in the current exhibit.

RM: You've lived in New York, you've lived in Vermont: has the bucolic environment affected you?

DG: Moving to Vermont, where I began to grow food, has had tremendous influence on me. You might say it rooted me, nurtured and sustained me body and soul. Interestingly I am in NYC as I write this. Part of me just can't see how people live like this, with the noise and lack of space.

RM: You quote Diane Arbus in your statement at your most recent show: what about her interests you?

DG: I find her comments to be very true. For example her statement that,"every family is really a little creepy". I just find that flat out true and evident. I mean how can any group of people manage to live together without making little agreements, little weird accommodations among themselves which permit them to live together for extended times? My little agreements are unique to me and will quite naturally strike someone else as weird - as will the agreements others have made which are unique to them. I think she really saw things other people didn't see. Also I don't think her photographs caused her suicide. I think untreated periomenopause did - remember there were no anti-depressants in those days.

RM: Do you see any resemblance between yourself and the other Diane Gabriel - I've been googling you - who won best in show at the Circleville, Ohio Pumpkin show with her plate of hulled lima beans?

DG: While I don't care for limas, I'm crazy for fava beans! But thanks for asking!

REVIEW: "Rebirth" at Burlington CCV's Cherry Pit Gallery

by Marc Awodey

There aren’t very many basement galleries in Burlington, or anywhere in Vermont for that matter, but one of the Community College Of Vermont exhibition spaces is both below ground, and paradoxically rich with natural light. It’s an atrium space mostly, and the sun pours down from a glass ceiling a few stories above the gallery. With its entrance on the Cherry Street side of Borders bookstore, the exhibit area has been christened Cherry Pit Gallery. It’s one of the three gallery spaces run by CCV in Burlington. All are ably curated by artist Karen Geiger. For this spring Cherry Pit Gallery has a group exhibition entitled “Rebirth.” It’s a show featuring many of the CCV instructors, and a select group of area artists.

Photographer Ann Barlow’s silver gelatin print Emergence directly addresses the theme of the show. It seems to present a female model uncurling her spine in the late stage of emerging from somewhere, as if she had been coiled up in a ball and is now standing. But that’s simply an assumption of the narrative. What make the image most interesting is Barlow’s linear composition. The negative space around figure’s left arm creates triangles that brace the form like girders under a bridge. The back is a broad, dark mass topped with the small forms of vertebrae, fingers and the model’s top knot which become a focal point.

Clay Feet by Sharon Webster is a whimsical installation of literal clay feet tramping up the side of a shoe hanger. “For me - these feet of clay are useful metaphors for struggle, desire, and aspiration” wrote Webster in an artists statement. The feet are like casts of Bigfoot feet. Webster sculpted the feet out of what seems like the joy of working with the plasticity of the medium. Imperfections and textures give them an organic feel.

The 2009 mixed media painting by Maggie Standley, called Blown Away-Poof! is a melange of hues and brush strokes which meld together to become a strong piece of nonobjective abstraction. A word is scrawled across the painting - does it say “fluence?” It’s hard to tell. Incorporating words with paintings can be problematic, in that, while trying to decipher the text one might overlook the considerable painterly aspects of the piece. Standley's variation of value - adding white to her hues, to fine tune complex chromatic harmonies, should be subject enough without an ambiguous bit of text.

The largest piece in the show is Pin The Crime On The Donkey, by the artist known as Mr. Masterpiece - the moniker is a whole story in itself to be left for another review - and that piece too contains text. In the case of Pin The Tail... the text is so stylized that it’s purely a design element. Mr. Masterpiece is one of the Burlington area’s strongest painters and his hard edged geometric stye is as distinctive as it is well painted.
In her curator’s statement, Geiger wrote: “The purpose of this show was to find a varied group of creative individuals and ask them, what is your concept of rebirth?” Even though few, if any, of the pieces in The Rebirth Show were created to address Geiger’s specific question, the exhibition’s eclecticism reflects the diversity of her artists' answers. “Rebirth” is apparently a very complicated word.

Friday, April 17, 2009

ESSAY: Northfield's Only Art Venue Closes

By Robin LaHue

April 24th will be a sad day for Northfield art and chocolate lovers. That’s the day the the Vermont Chocolatiers shop closes its doors. The owners, Jane and Wally Delia, are selling the chocolate making portion of the business, and the new owners are not going to have a retail space at the present location. Since October of 2006, the shop has been the Northfield area’s only showcase for local artists. In the two and a half years since it has opened, we have had a diverse group of artists on exhibit. Experienced local icons Kathy Ravenhorst Adams, Phyllis Higgins and Gene Parent have shown there; as well as new artists debuting for the first time, like mother and son, Caroline and David Demasi. I have had the pleasure of curating the space since the beginning, and it has been a joy to me to try to bring a variety of work to the area, from traditional to more unusual contemporary artists like Jack Sabon and Linda Maney. An abundance of local photographers, including Annie Tiberio-Cameron, have also been represented. Jane didn’t take a commission on any of the art sold there, which was an extra bonus for the artists.

Northfield area artists have gotten together with the Paine Mountain Arts Council to put together a three day show in January for the last four years that has been very successful. The openings are always standing room only, and the sales have been brisk. This January approximately $2,200 worth of art was sold in three days in our small town, in January, in the midst of a recession; which shows just how “art-hungry” this little section of Central Vermont is.

The new curator at Norwich University’s Sulllivan Museum and History Center, Marilyn Solvay, has made an overture to the area’s artists with the juried show “Inspired by Stories” that will open in May of this year. For this show, artists chosen by a panel of their peers got to choose a piece from the Museum’s vast collection and interpret it in any medium and style. Hopefully, someone else will step up to the plate to keep art alive in Northfield the rest of the year as well. Another gallery, business or artist cooperative is sorely needed. The gallery at the chocolate shop was booked up through February 2010 with monthly changing shows, which are now all cancelled.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

REVIEW: It's Elementary Art at City Center, Montpelier

By Theodore Hoppe

The Montpelier City Center has quite a variety of budding young artists on display, with fine examples of Chinese Brush Stroke, paintings of wildlife, Civil War heroes, and much more. It's Elementary Art is the art work of students from grades K-6 in the Washington Central Supervisory Union. These elementary schools include Doty, Berlin, Rumney, Calais, and East Montpelier.

The art the students have created is, in a word, amazing. Brilliant yellow sunflowers painted on a blue-tone background in the style of Vincent Van Gogh are done by first and second graders. Space and Vanishing Points are a collection of drawings by 2nd and 3rd graders that explore shape, texture, line, color, patterns and perspective. There are portraits by 4th graders that display an expressive range of emotion.

There are two collaborative efforts by a total of forty 5th and 6th graders that employ a technique called Masterpieces -Together. The concept is for students to recreate a portion of a famous painting and then piece them together like a patchwork quilt. The results are bright, colorful, and ambitious likenesses of Paul Klee's abstract "Castle and Sun” and Henri Rousseau's "Exotic Landscape."

For many of Vermont's (and indeed America's) young people, public schools serve as the major provider of arts instruction. It is with the patient dedication of teachers like Lynn Spencer, Martha Fitch, Jennifer Campbell, and Heidi Marie Holmes-Heiss, that young minds are guided to an understanding of the arts. This show is about drawing, technique, art history, but it is also about understanding and appreciating beauty, and daring to create it. Last, and perhaps most importantly, it is a demonstration of need to continue funding the arts in our public schools even in difficult times.

It's Elementary Art will be at the City Center until May 2, 2009, so stop in with several of your favorite young people and explore all there is to see. Perhaps you will find the next Paul Klee, Vincent Van Gogh, or Henri Rousseau there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: David Smith and Steven Bronstein at Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild in St. Johnsbury

This exhibit of oil paintings by David Smith of Peacham and iron sculptures by Steven Bronstein of Marshfield, in the Backroom Gallery of the Northeast Kingdom Artists Guild, runs from April 5th - May 18th, with an opening reception onSaturday, April 18, 3-5 PM.

Smith says, “the consistency in my work is in the physical and emotional effect of light on objects, as well as the tension created between the representational mode of painting and the actual surface of the paint itself. Light and shadows - the two sides of the coin - move me when I see them in the world."

Steven Bronstein’s designs strive to blend the primitive charm of ironwork with the energy and interest of more contemporary design. Clocks, vases, bookends, floor lamps, and garden sculptures are just a few of the objects for which Steven has sought to blend the functional with the sculptural. “Elemental, unrefined, simple --iron isn’t that many steps away from dirt,” says Bronstein, “but in the right hands, it can be used to create something truly beautiful.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

REVIEW: High Priestess of Pizza

By Sid Gulick

I had the good fortune to stumble onto a little exhibit of paintings by Janet Van Fleet entitled "Priests" on the walls of the Parker Pie pizza emporium in West Glover, Vt. The venue, a gustatory and cultural oasis off the beaten path in the Northeast Kingdom, is becoming known for its special menu events and musical nights featuring local performers and poets every other Thursday in addition to serving some of the best gourmet pizza available anywhere.

Ms. Van Fleet's works are all portrait/caricatures of individuals presented as priests of a largely secular society. Many of the portraits have gold leaf backgrounds reminiscent of Eastern European Orthodox icon paintings. However, as the artist says in her artist's statement, these are for the most part not religious figures but rather "fellow travelers of another kind, these priests are secular clerics, our comrades". There's a light sense of whimsy and humor running through the show: The Priest of Inner Logic is dressed as a fool. The Priest of Schooling wears a coarse hairnet and is surrounded by fish, most of whom seem too small to be entrapped by the net. The only overtly religious figure, the Priest of Priests, seems to generate a mist or veil which serves to obscure rather than clarify truth. The Priest of Hot Things (right) seems to have overdosed on jalapenos (possible with some of the spicier offerings at Parker Pie).

Although there is a sense of wit which pervades the works, the expressions of the priests are for the most part pensive, if not gloomy. The only individual who looks at all cheerful is the Priest of Inflated Assets, with a green head like a misshapen artichoke and a grin that looks like he's about to sell another bundle of shaky mortgages.

It's not clear to me what Ms. Van Fleet is saying with this work. It would be easy to write it off as a lighthearted series of amusing ideas that tickled the artist but weren't worth the time to push any farther, and to take each work as a clever one-liner. Regardless, the individual works were amusing, and my trip to the restaurant provided food for thought as well as body.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

PROFILE: David Hurwitz, Wood Artist

by Rob Hitzig
This profile is an edited version of an interview in several parts on Rob Hitzig's blog, Wood is Art.

Of all the artist/craft careers, studio furniture maker has to be the hardest. The combined struggles of mastering the craft of woodworking, developing original designs, maintaining a fully equipped studio, and marketing a product that will cost many times more than other similarly functioning objects are at least as great as any other discipline. Having made furniture as a hobbyist, I have a good sense of what goes into making furniture with traditional joinery and I know that these artists are lucky to be making a living wage. There just isn't any way around the fact that making fine furniture takes an enormous amount of time. On top of this, just about every schmuck with a table saw has a romantic dream of living in the woods and making furniture for a living; as a result, the competition is extremely stiff.

With the knowledge of these difficulties, I always appreciate seeing people getting recognition and being on the cusp of making a name for themselves, perhaps even being able to make a reasonable income. Randolph, Vermont artist David Hurwitz is just such a person. As a professional furniture maker since 1988 and self-employed since 1993, David recently had two of his solo pieces, along with two collaborations with stone sculptor Kerry Furlani, (see one image at left) featured in Lark Books new publication "500 Tables". I thought it was a good time to interview him (before he became too famous and/or busy) to get a better sense of the origins of his work and to highlight what others could learn from his experiences.

David has a knack for creating lightness and movement with big, thick pieces of wood. He has developed a style that is unique and identifiable as his own -- an important trait in trying to make a name for oneself. The work also seems to be as much sculpture as it is furniture.

David first learned woodworking in a 1st grade woodshop where they taught hand tools. Although he has learned and enjoys many other media, including metal, glass (blowing), jewelery, and concrete, he has returned to wood because at some point there isn't enough time to learn it all and it is better to master one than be mediocre in many.

Hurwitz feels that clients get his best work when they give him basic criteria related to how the item should function and then give him broad artistic license. Also, he truly enjoys commissions that push him to do something he hasn't done before. He finds most individual clients are good about giving him the freedom to create but he has noticed that when dealing with professionals (e.g., interior designers) the end product can sometimes be adversely affected by the "too-many-hands-in-the-pot" syndrome. The lesson being, if you are going to hire David (or any other studio furniture maker) because you like their work and their designs, you are more likely to get a great product if you give them design freedom.

David said that, without a doubt, his best career move was moving to Vermont. He has found that it has provided him with a number of good marketing opportunities because there is a focused effort to promote wood products and he hasn't seen the same level of organization in other places that he has worked.

As far as his worst decisions are concerned, he said he felt they were more learning experiences than mistakes. These lessons include:

Be prepared for shows -- the first time David did a crafts show he was ill-prepared with marketing materials and bad lighting. After studying what others were doing, he has since been much better prepared for subsequent shows.

It is important to talk to other craft artists to avoid making mistakes they have made, such as always having a signed contract before beginning work on a project.

Don't put work in distant galleries with an unproven sales record. David had a bad experience with a gallery about 500 miles away in that they weren't able to sell any of his work; it was a major hassle to get work down there and pick it up; they damaged all of the pieces; and they used his table tops as very elaborate pedestals for other work - rather than leaving them clear as works of art on their own. From this experience he learned to be selective.

Some of the designs David is still using were developed years ago while living in suburban surroundings that didn't match his head space. By living and working in Vermont, he feels that his headspace now matches his surrounding environment. That's important for any artist.

REVIEW: Harriet Wood at Catamount in St. Johnsbury

by Janet Van Fleet

Harriet Wood is a painter whose canvases sing and dance. (The triptych above is even called Alex Wants To Dance I, II, and III.) Her colors are vivid and her painting is vigorous and full of a manic but elegant energy. With the exception of a few portrait heads and swampy landscapes, all the work in the show is exuberantly non-figurative and decidedly a cohesive body of work.

Patches of scrubbed, saturated color are highlighted by strong lines that sometimes appear to have been applied directly from the tube, enhancing the energy and drive of the work. In some of the newer pieces from 2009, such as Karuna (above, a diptych 45 x 76"), she adds repeated elements, such as the white ear-like curves in the lower left, and wavy lines spooning in the lower right. Homage to Klimt has a patch of staccato dots.

The piece getting the most comment at the crowded opening reception on Friday evening (April 10) was The Last of Just (above, 22.5 x 22.5"), from 2006, with dark black, olive, and muted reds overlaid by scarlet linear elements that suggested calligraphy or Chinese characters.

The work in this exhibit is lush and intense. It’s at the Catamount Arts gallery in St. Johnsbury through April 30.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Camp Meade forming Artistic Community

Working artist camp forming at Camp Meade, Middlesex, VT exit 9 at Rt. 89 (30 minutes South of Burlington). This former Civilian Conservation Corps. camp offers 7 acres of land backed by the confluence of the Mad and Winnoski Rivers. You will have access to a community garden, horseshoe pits, shared commercial kitchen and gallery. The site also offers a cafe, bakery, weavery and chocolate shop. Starting May 1st these 17 individual cabin studios will be available for $245 a month or a discounted rate of $1200.00 for 6 month commitment. Welcoming writers, painters, poets, barbers, stylists, welders, spinners, potters, gardeners, herbalists, craftistas, fortune tellers, musicians, ect. You will be stationed at the high traffic entrance to the Mad River Byway at the intersection of I-89, Rt. 2 and Rt. 100 just 6 miles from Montpelier. Our vision is that you will host an open studio on a regular basis to sell your wares or services (although exceptions may apply). This should happen quickly. Accepting inquiries until Friday April 24th. Call (802) 279-3726 for details.

Jaquelyn Reike
Camp Meade
(802) 279-3726

OPINION: Donating to Art auctions - love 'em? hate 'em? depends on the cause?

This is in response to a question submitted by Marc Awodey and posted on April 6, 2009. Further responses will be posted as they are received

by Bethany Farrell

As an artist, I am in support of the auction concept. Every year I donate to 5-6 different auctions that support causes I believe in. I will concur that artists are frequently solicited for donations. However, I know that a lot of other folks are as well. Why do I donate? It is another way that I can contribute. It is a way for me to help a cause that will make a difference in the lives of others or for the good of the community. I cannot give to every cause that solicits from artists, nor would I want to. Furthermore, I feel that every artist needs to find his/her own way through this sea of auctions and causes. But I do think it is a cynical view to think that the people that organize these events intend to demean the artist or his/her work. When you do give, you hope that your contribution will raise some dollars. Perhaps you will even get a little publicity and yes it helps if you get a bit of the percentage to cover your costs. The bottom line, though, is that when artists give their work, they are giving a little piece of themselves, and that is good for the soul.

above: "Scars" by Bethany Ferrell

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

OPINION: Donating to Art auctions - love 'em? hate 'em? depends on the cause?

This is in response to a question submitted by Marc Awodey and posted on April 6, 2009. Further responses will be posted as they are received.

by Stuart Chenkin

As a fundraiser for a non-profit ( ) I believe that artists, or anyone, who donate items or services to our benefit auction are doing a service for those less fortunate than them. True, many artists are "starving" and the donation isn't going to make them any richer financially. However, they will benefit knowing that they are helping someone improve their life. This does not include art institutions as I cannot comment on their intentions. I can, however, comment on the "percentage of auction sale" for the artist (donor). We are asked that when soliciting donations and will not accept any donations with that caveat, or "on consignment." Why? Most people who attend benefit auctions will spend a specific amount of money. Suppose someone makes $5,000 his or her limit. They bid $5,000 on a painting of which the artist gets $2,500 and the charity $2,500. Now, if the attendee bid a total of $5,000 on, say, ten items and/or services, the charity gets the full $5,000. And in these turbulent financial times $5,000 is a lot better than $2,500. Incidentally, artists are not the only people who ask for a split of the funds, and we turn those "donors" down also.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

REVIEW: Scott J.Morgan at Bennington Museum

by Bret Chenkin

Scott J. Morgan is the most recent artist featured in the local artist series at the Bennington Museum. Morgan is a painter who can best be described as abstract—in the tradition of Cubist design. They are mostly medium in size and conceived by thin applications of pigment, rubbed, or scumbled, or even dyed, onto the canvas, with webbings or loops of fine painterly lines serving as frameworks. His intent is to synchronize music with architecture in oil: he believes the spiral, the circle, and other primitive forms are essential in pursuing this combination. He alludes in his statement to improvisation and jazz, but his works appear more like a snapshot—a frozen gesture of the event—rather than a dynamic being-becoming moment. “Santa Elena” is a case in point, for the swerving contours of curvilinear sweeps harkens movement, but the perfection of composition and execution arrest the loops. The range of the show is from the lovely to the innocuous.

Morgan works two palettes—warm hues of ochre, umber, reds, even lime; and then cobalt blue, and dark browns. Colors are carefully related, and emotion is factored in through automatic line work. Themed paintings, such as “Noir I” and “Rapture” show a possible influence of Marden; while the morphed heads of “Closseau II” (one of the few portraits), evokes the passion of Bacon. The early work appears more evocative. “Blue Avenue”, 2002, with its impasto, and shaped geometric areas, is as successful passion play—and is closer to improvisation. The representation of 2009 are brighter, more abstract, though include horizontal lines suggesting landscapes. The roaming lines from the previous years are absent, and instead Morgan is relying on planes of color. They are warm, flat, yet vibrant.

Above: “Closseau II” 48x30, oil, 2004
Left: "Raprure I" 12x12, oil, 2004

OPINION: Donating to Art auctions - love 'em? hate 'em? depends on the cause?

This is in response to a question submitted by Marc Awodey and posted on April 6, 2009. Further responses will be posted as they are received.

by Paula McCullough

I'm in the 'auctions are okay if you have a passion for that cause' but personally I think it trains the public to devalue artists AND their works. Who else gets asked to donate their livelihood so consistently...practically expected to, and yet artists are usually the least financially stable of all!

I think art institutes especially deserve a slap on the wrist for asking artists to hand over the goods,  especially if they never exhibit that artists works in non-auction shows, its like saying your work isn't good enough for us to exhibit so give it away for free. Art Institutes also would have an artist believe that they will get more 'exposure' blah blah. I say do it for the right reason, if you have work you don't like and want to get rid
of I guess that's cool, I'd personally rather deconstruct or re-do something I'm not liking or wanting. Do artists ever donate something they cherish and love, their most expensive piece? Probably only the wealthiest of artists do or the rare saint. My point being look at what artists donate and that will tell you how they really feel about it.

That said, if auctions were to give the artist a 40-50% commission it would feel healthier. And I'm sure there are plenty of artists, art and groups that have great intentions and everyone is feeling the love.

above: "Evolution" by Paula McCullough

Monday, April 6, 2009

OPINION: Donating to Art auctions - love 'em? hate 'em? depends on the cause?

by Marc Awodey

  This is the first of our two OPINION questions for April. Considering it's IRS month and art donations used to be worth some sort of tax write off, this seems like an aprapos time to ask: Art auctions - love 'em? hate 'em? Depends on the cause? I've donated to four auctions so far this year, and my main reason has been to just get work out of my studio! But I liked the causes too. One is for a hospice in Addison county. Another was the "Fool's Gold" fund in which artists are raising money to make small grants to other artists in need. One was for the Democratic party, and another was for Helen Day Art Center.  It's usually depressing to know how badly pieces fare in auctions - but a couple who already owned a piece by me attended the HDAC auction, so the pieces I donated did rather well - raising $400 for the art center.  And a tidy sum for me since the HDAC was giving artists a percentage of the take, if requested. So I'm in the "auctions are ok" camp now... where are you?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

SHORT: Bigtown Gallery, in Rochester,VT

Rochester, Vermont isn’t a big city, but it’s got a big town gallery - literally. Big Town Gallery on route 100 in the heart of Rochester presents top flight exhibitions, and outdoor performances in “BigTown’s out-back amphitheater space,” during the warm summer months. Gallerist Anni Mackay has been curating Bigtown shows for ten years, and represents some of New England’s best known artists - Gerald Auten, Varujan Boghosian, David Bumbeck, Nancy Taplin, and the late Hugh Townley; to name a few. The Bigtown “Members Show,” with works by those five artists and a dozen more is on display April 5th – May 25th. Opening reception Saturday, April 11, 5pm. The spring weather is always dicey, especially in central Vermont, but if it's a beautiful weekend take a drive to Rochester. If it’s gloomy take a drive to Rochester to seem some beautiful art anyways.
above: A piece on board by Nancy Taplin