Wednesday, September 30, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Oh The Horror! at S.P.A.C.E. in Burlington

OH THE HORROR includes “Breath-taking” works by a group of ’strange,’ yet extraordinarily talented, artists and craftsmen: Beth Robinson, Marc Awodey, Janet Van Fleet, Kevin Montanaro, Lorraine Reynolds, Jme Wheeler, Isaac Wasuck, Jonathan Ward, Andrea Currie. Works range in mediums from paintings to strange dolls, to mad scientist installations and vintage horror movie posters.

Opening Reception Friday, October 2 from 5:00-9:00pm for the First Friday Art Walk
Closing party on Halloween

266 Pine Street, Suite 105
Burlington, Vermont

Shown: "Robot Zombie" by Kevin Montanaro and "Rapture" by Jme Wheeler.

PRESS RELEASE: Cheryl Betz at Claire's in Hardwick

Cheryl Betz will be exhibiting paintings at Claire's Restaurant, 41 Main Street in Hardwick during the month of October.

There will be an Artist’s Reception on Monday, October 5, 2009 4:00 - 6:00.

Shown: Fucus Vesiculosus Linnaeus II, oil on canvas

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CURATOR'S ESSAY: Marina Pacilio at Julian Scott Memorial Gallery in Johnson

by Leila Bandar, Gallery Director

Marina Pacilio’s bigger-than-human-scale paintings completely fill the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery space. Ten luminous, large, un-stretched canvases awaken new perspectives on the figure, form, water, and light. Each call to the viewer in a different way with vivid depictions of brightness – sun in water, brightness in summer air, glow-bugs, and light – even winter in January. Silently, like a landscape behind glass, they offer value to those who look.

Underwater scenes wrap nude self-portraits with deep, sea-green-hues, turquoise-blue, and yellowy-white sunlight that curls around hips, thighs, hands, and torso. In a painting of Pacilio’s mother, orange-red hues shine with yellow to make nurturing energy. As her mother’s elbow bends toward a blazing warmth, green-moths flit, like memories, overhead. On the opposite side of the same wall, a photo-realistic glimpse of Marina’s grandmother, surrounded by a dream-like/maroon-dark abyss, looks up to a cosmos of stars and fireflies. Winter scenes reveal close-ups of dry brittle grasses in a phthalo and cobalt-blue chill. And finally, we come to big and small jellyfish within the largest canvas. Here, Pacilio creates depth in a vast ocean with a tiny figure – a tenth of full-scale.

In the realms of her canvas, Pacilio creates atmospheres from washes of oil and acrylic paint. These layers “unify both the spontaneous and the intentional aspects of [her] paintings” (Pacilio). In this exceptional culmination of three years spent in Johnson State College’s low-residency through the Vermont Studio Center, Pacilio reveals ambiguities that are both uniquely human, and also compassionate. Her elegant paintings create space and mood; they preserve a moment and reflect time, dedication, and skill.

“Many of these paintings reference my dreams and reveries," Pacilio says in her Artist Statement. "These fantasies of mine often have unusual juxtapositions between seemingly incongruent images. I painted myself nude to show the vulnerability and exposure I feel by putting these images on display. I reference water and submersion in many of the paintings; underwater I am cocooned and safe, surrounded by silent solitude.”

Marina Pacilio completes her M.F.A. this winter. The work will be on view at the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery at Johnson State College from Sept 21 – Oct 2, 2009.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Hali Issente at Hartland Public Library

Original Art by Hali Issente, Hartland Public Library, 153 Route 5, Hartland, Vermont
October 1 - 31, 2009
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 3, 6-8 pm

An exhibition of new work by Hali Issente will be on view in the Hartland Public Library from October 1 - 31, 2009. A reception, free and open to the public, will take place Saturday, October 3rd from 6 to 8 pm.

Hali Issente was born and raised in Hartland, Vermont. He has a degree from Goddard College, where his concentration was in the fine arts and cultural studies. Issente works as a graphic designer and part-time pottery decorator for the home furnishings company, ShackletonThomas. For his exhibition at the Hartland Public Library, Issente will be showing new paintings and mixed-media works on paper. During the reception, there will be an inventory sale of older work.

The Hartland Public Library is located at 153 Route 5 in Hartland, Vermont. From I-91 use exit 9, then travel north on Route 5 for approximately one mile. It is located on the left side of the street, across from the Mobil station.

Media Contact:
Hali Issente
802 356 1271

Friday, September 25, 2009

WALKABOUT: Art Walk in Montpelier

by Janet Van Fleet

I started my Art Walk at the Vermont Arts Council, checking out a new Sculpture Garden exhibit curated by Lindsey Carlson (inside, in the Spotlight Gallery, there's an exhibit of paintings by Margaret Lampe Kannenstine). The event was nicely catered with wine in real stemmed glasses. Very classy. Sculptors included Leila Bandar (left: Bend, Bow, Retain, Resist, 2009), Kat Clear (Garliques, 2007), Chris Curtis (Thought Prism, 2008 and Paleolithic Translation, 2009), David Tanych (Untitled, 2004), and Denis Versweyveld (right: Vermont Shrine, 2009) -- a delightful small building (about the size of a large person) with pristine, milk-white interior walls enclosing a simple, blocky little table holding three vessels. The effect was meditative, comforting, and intimate.

At the Supreme Court there were big, bold paintings by Muffin Ray (exhibit reviewed on Vermont Art Zine here), and at the Statehouse (in the cafeteria and nearby spaces), I got to see the final exhibit of Champlain’s Lake Rediscovered: Vermont Artists Celebrate the Lake (you can see images of all 38 pieces in the exhibit here). The exhibit will be there through October 31. I decided not to go see the show of nature photographs by Roger Irwin at the Governor’s Office because I can’t stand the elaborate check-in, check-out, show your ID security. I don’t understand why they can remove the metal detector at the Supreme Court for art openings, but not lay back at the Governor’s Office. I thought the three branches of government were equal...

The Lazy Pear was hopping, chock-a-block with people, and Mary Jo provided great refreshments as always (bite-size quiche-lets with mushrooms, thin homemade chocolate cookies, and great cheese). Wendy James and Steve Goodman, featured exhibitors, were there to talk with gallery-goers about their work. Goodman’s pieces were small-scale, square-format landscapes with loose brushwork. James showed both digital black-and-white collages that play with scale in humorous and surprising ways, as well as three new oil paintings (left) that have a strong narrative thrust. I couldn’t help connecting them in my mind like a graphic novel.

At the ARA Gallery in City Center there was a group show by ARA members, Shown (at right) are pieces by Robin LaHue, Linda Maney, Cora Brooks, and Maggie Neale.

My Art Walk finished at Langdon Street Café (left), which is showing paintings by the talented Azarian brothers, Ethan, Jesse, and Tim.

You can see all this work (and more) during any other business day, so if you missed the Art Walk this evening, it doesn’t mean you missed the shows.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: David Russell Digital Art Exhibit

Photographer David Russell will exhibit new work reflecting his exploration of digital art and painting in a one-day exhibit on Sunday, October 4, at the Northgate Community Hall, 275 Northgate Road, Burlington, VT. The exhibit will be open from 1-5:00 p.m., with an artist reception from 3-4:30 p.m.

David has been a photographer for forty years, specializing in both street and fashion photography. This solo show marks his entry into the world of digital art and digital painting. Though some believe digital art is not “real” art, Russell disagrees. “Although materials and styles may vary, artists will continue to explore new methods and mediums, while retaining the important rules of composition, form, and color,” he says. Instead of a canvas, paint, and brushes, he uses a digital camera and technology to create his paintings. Beginning with a well thought out photograph giving much attention to composition, lighting, and color, he then uses the pixels of color within the photograph as paint, and alters the focus, color, and form to create a painting.

“For me, photography is just the beginning of a process of creating images,” Russell states. “The rest is art and imagination.”

PRESS RELEASE: Photostop opens in White River Junction

Lia Rothstein announces that she has recently opened PHOTOSTOP in the Tip Top Media Arts Building in White River Junction, Vermont. PHOTOSTOP is located on the first floor in Suite 150 at 85 North Main Street.

Lia created PHOTOSTOP as a place dedicated to showing, teaching, and sharing photography in response to the closing of so many photography-related places in the Upper Valley and throughout New England. She would welcome your input into the kinds of workshops you’d
be interested in attending and the exhibition topics in which you’d be most interested. Upcoming planned exhibitions include the works of Jonathan Bailey and Sara Wight (December), Cynthia Beth Rubin, Olivia Parker, and other photographers.

PHOTOSTOP’S inaugural exhibition, “Wheat, An American Series”, with photographs by Neal Rantoul, will open on October 23rd with a reception from 6-9 pm and a gallery talk at 7:30 pm. Rantoul is the director of the Photography Program at Northeastern University in Boston and a widely exhibited and published photographer. His work is held in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Fogg Museum at Harvard, the Kunsthaus in Zurich, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, and many others.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Rantoul will be teaching a workshop titled “Series Work: Beyond the Single Image” on October 24 and 25, from 10-4 pm.

On November 14, Lia Rothstein will be teaching a workshop on “How to Create Your Own
Photo or Art Book”. For registration information, please contact her at 802.698.0320.

PHOTOSTOP Gallery will be open from 2-9 pm for a sneak preview during White River Junction’s October 2nd First Friday celebration. Once the Rantoul exhibit has opened, the gallery hours will be Wednesday through Saturday from 2-8 pm. On First Friday sand opening nights, the gallery will be open until 9 pm.

PHOTOSTOP’s website is You can choose to subscribe to receive updates as they are posted on the site by clicking the button on the right side of the homepage.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

REVIEW: "Discarded and Salvage", Works by Muffin Ray at the Vermont Supreme Court

by Cully Renwick

The show takes its
name from two pieces that bear those stenciled words. They are actually warehouse labels for textile goods; both “discarded” and “salvage” textiles have very big markets in the world. But here the words, being presented as art, are ambiguous, allowing the viewer to be less literal. Ray herself doesn’t hesitate to make comparisons between the Odyssey of her life and that of the recycled textiles she works with.

In every piece the ideas of salvaging and re-purposing are obvious. Beautiful or plain, new or old, selected materials (pressed tin patterns, patchwork, upholstery, shipping bags, lace, quilt top) rough tough or dainty have been pasted down, cut up, thrown back together, and amber-varnished almost beyond recognition of what they once were. Yet each material maintains some important identity while becoming an element in a larger artwork.

These large scale collages and constructions show Ray’s confident application of paint and design elements. The painter’s practiced hand balances rough materials with motifs of oriental budding branches, (Bed, top left image) ancient-seeming veneer, paint, and textile surfaces to create powerful yet graceful works. Ray makes it look easy. The outcome is strong, harmonious, often very striking, and always entertaining in its details. The surfaces may be three-dimensional with protruding rough seam edges or globules of paint (close detail, Discard I, top right image, ) or varnished stitchery or running color. Some pieces celebrate the texture and weave of uncolored cloth, while others are saturated with paint in reds, yellows, ochers, and black (Bird, above left), a painted portion typically divided from a collaged section, varnish and running contrasting paint uniting all (Untitled, below right).

Ray’s selection process leaves us far, far from modern times. There is no shiny metallic cloth or hard-edged shape, no computer image. This is the frontier, the village, the reminiscence of ancient art--- in the hands of an expressionist. The big strongly colored wall hangings seem surprisingly warm to me, they are rich in detail without being noisy, and happy in color and imagery. One such painting could anchor a room like a hearth. Ray’s works are noble ends for her discarded and salvaged finds.

Muffin Ray’s work will be on display at the Vermont Supreme Court building in Montpelier through October 29. The Supreme Court building is open to the public Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Closed Friday, October 2)

Friday, September 18, 2009

REPRINT: Scot Borofsky's Wall of the Americas in Brattleboro

By Arlene Distler

Last July, during Brattleboro's monthly Gallery Walk, a phalanx of art lovers made their way to an empty lot behind a chain-link fence, off the well-trod gallery path. They were going to look at a mural executed on a foundation wall that rises up against one of the tiered streets that surround downtown.

They saw artist Scot Borofsky's most recent gift to his hometown, a mural of sorts that he calls "Wall of the Americas." Borofsky brings to Brattleboro's landscape his unique vision - a blend of the enduring infused with the street-smarts of the here-and-now, a vision he offers to people who happens to wander by and lift their eyes.

Borofsky cut his artist's teeth on the streets of New York City's Lower East Side in the '80s, when he first developed a love of an art form that doesn't fit tidily into a room, that you don't have to pay to see, and that viewers are obliged to see in the context of their daily lives.

Borofsky attended Brandeis University and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design in 1981. He received a Max Beckman painting scholarship to work at the Brooklyn Museum in 1981 and 1982. Just out of school, Borofsky joined the influential cadre of painters of that era, painting 25 "wallworks" and then going on to be represented by Mokotoff Gallery, one of Manhattan's leading galleries at that time. Borofsky's work is featured in three books on the street art movement.He returned to Vermont in 1991.

While media - and law enforcement - focused on the renegade aspect of "tagging" and street art, according to Borofsky the real message always was that art is meant to be integrated with life. "Street art takes in, by its nature, the immediate surroundings: telephone poles, street lights, bridge abutments," he said. "It all becomes part of the artwork."

Coming down Elm Street from Canal to Frost Street, one gets a distant, intriguing glimpse. But the work is meant to be seen at street level and, when the artwork comes into view, it opens into a colorful world of an Andean rainforest, the geometric, abstract visual remains of an ancient civilization.

Street art meets Vermont
Borofsky's colors (courtesy of Krylon spray paint, used since his New York heyday) are somehow both subtle and primary: reds, oranges, greens, and blues. One section's design is bright purple. There are geometric spirals, "stepped" shapes that use the bricks to enhance the design, stylized animal forms, looming mountains.

During the five-year gestation period when Borofsky first noticed the wall and realized it was a perfect canvas for his art, he learned of the petroglyphs - primitive rock carvings, along the Connecticut River in Bellows Falls, some 20 miles north. The artist has incorporated a facsimile of those petroglyphs into one area of the mural.

Honoring the mural's location in southern Vermont has been an important part of the process. "I wanted the images on the wall to have a connection with where it is, so I included the petroglyphs, and painted local wildlife like deer, squirrels, fish into it," Borofsky's says. The thunderbird, or eagle, an oft-repeated image in Native American art, shows up here, as it often does in Borofsky's oeuvre. Fair enough, as eagles nest at the Quabbin Reservoir, a few miles south into Massachusetts.

"I am taken with the idea that civilizations rise, flourish, disappear; and that ultimately nature prevails," he says. Thus it was important, says Borofsky, that this wall has sections that have architectural "nooks." Something has been there and is now gone. And in this case nature has definitely prevailed.

The artist confessed he had to hack his way through overgrowth to get close enough to paint. Thick vines still drape over the top of the wall. He found a birdhouse nearby that had broken open and revealed a miniature moose head inside - presumably for the edification of its bird tenants. Recalling that story seems to delight him. "I love the specific history of a place," he says. "It all affects the painting."

Borofsky says he worked for eight hours a day for three days, then eight days for three hours a day - geometric balance, even in his work schedule. "And then some tweaking," he adds.
Finding his own vocabulary
In a 2005 artist's statement, Borofsky described the development of the geometric motifs that pervade his work. "For a long time, as I emulated Ancient Chinese landscape painting or Pre-Columbian abstraction and graphic design, I simultaneously developed my personal collection of symbols, using methods of 'blind drawing' invented by the artists in the Dada art movement," he wrote. "These symbols I set in different cultural and historic contexts, such as outdoor urban spray-paint installations or painted photographs from the ruins of Pompeii. They were often abstracted from drawings of animals or people. I look for archetypes."

Borofsky then "randomly began to draw these symbols right on top of each other, building up visual relationships and a 'story' between them," he wrote. In admiring the work of abstract expressionist painter Philip Guston, Borofsky discovered that Guston made creative use of the golden mean. "It seems he used this ancient system as a base for improvisation, much as a blues musician improvises freely by sticking to the 1-4-5 blues chord progression," Borofsky wrote. "I thought, if this worked for Guston, it's worth a try. This was a major breakthrough for me."
Borofsky has since pared down his visual vocabulary - a result, he says, of "taking everything out that wasn't mine."

"It's sad," he continues, "because I love the artists that my work referenced in the past," citing in particular Gericault and his "Raft of the Medusa," which was the inspiration for a series of paintings in 2000. The process of letting go of influences is akin to "growing up and setting sail," he asserts. The disparate elements in "Wall of the Americas" evoke the feeling of a "ruin" while the work retains a visual integrity, perhaps arrived at not only through the long, patient execution, but also through the power of the artist's unique vision.
Borofsky, using very ancient motifs and images in a 21st-century context, asks more of the viewer as well, hoping that the art can be viewed without the aid of the familiar, without previous knowledge of art history. The same impulse, perhaps, inspired artists of the early part of the twentieth century, Picasso in particular, to incorporate themes from African art.

Borofsky has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and points south, and his visual language is thoroughly steeped in Pre-Columbian iconography and symbols, a time when images were inseparable from the spirits of the people who created, and appreciated, them. "My influences come from diverse sources such as the stepped geometrics of Aztec culture, Mixtec weaving, Mayan ruins, and Navajo and Plains Indian art," says Borofsky.

In "Wall of the Americas" in particular, he quotes ancient forms, using sketches he made while traveling. Still, these forms have become a personal vocabulary and are transformed through Borofsky's sophisticated sensibility, through juxtaposition with invented forms and their context. Along with Pre-Columbian imagery, Borofsky has inserted a section inspired by Japanese art, a stylized depiction of distant cloud-topped mountains, a motif often found in his murals and canvases.

Peaceful imagery
Currently Borofsky is working on several paintings in the lobby of the downtown building where he has maintained a studio for many years, the Barber Building, owned by his family and housing at street level the family business, Sam's Outdoor Outfitters. And so, in the lobby murals Borofsky has chosen the inspiration of Mount Wantastiquet, a few hundred feet across the Connecticut River from the door of the building, and the Green Mountains surrounding Brattleboro on its western and northern edge.

In discussing these paintings Borofsky talks about his artistic decisions. "The colors and shapes have a psychological impact. I think about that! I try to have my designs be uplifting. For example," he continues, "a Japanese pagoda's shape and a Roman arch give very different feelings."

When they are finished, the painter hopes they will instill a sense of mountain light and peace.

This article was previously published in The Commons Newspaper, Brattleboro, Vermont.

Arlene Distler lives in Brattleboro, Vermont, her base of operations as a free-lance writer, poet and artist. With a fine arts background, she writes primarily on the visual arts for Vermont newspapers and magazines, and regionally for Art New England. She may be reached at (web site in progress)

Photographs by Ezra Distler, a freelance photographer based in southern Vermont.
He can be contacted by email at

PRESS RELEASE: "Fundamentally Vermont" at Artisans Guild in St. Johnsbury

Many visitors to Vermont come looking for what can be increasingly difficult to find – an authentic experience of the “old Vermont,” something deeper down than brilliant fall color. “Fundamentally Vermont,” a new exhibition opening October 2 at the Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild, is one place to sample the treasures of Vermont’s past through special lenses, the camera of Richard W. Brown, and through the vernacular pine furniture of Cookeville Woodworking. More information about the artists may be found on their respective Websites, and

Cookeville Woodworking in Corinth has been producing handcrafted furniture and accessories in Vermont since 1989. A variety of cabinets, cupboards, nightstands, and hand-carved mirror frames are created with reclaimed materials: old doors, architectural moldings, antique lumber, and cut nails. Cookeville Woodworking uses native harvested pine, which is specially cut by a local band-saw mill. By using reclaimed lumber and antique styles, Cookeville has honored both the thrift and the aesthetic of Vermont’s classic country heritage.

Richard Brown, of Peacham, also has given concrete form to his appreciation of Vermont and its history. Brown had the vision to photograph the vanishing Vermont of hill farms and country ways commencing some thirty-five years ago. His observations fill a number of treasured books on Vermont and other New England locales. Brown, in “The Soul of Vermont,” (published in 2001) describes with his photographic images and words, not four but six seasons. The sensitivity of the artist, communicated through his works, has the potential of making what he sees more visible to others.

In the book Brown states, “. . . I am drawn to certain subjects and themes. I have a weakness for birch trees, barns, draft horses, cemeteries, landscapes with sheep or cows in them, bodies of water, still or moving, the moon, rising or setting, and anything . . . that bears witness to past Vermonters’ short time in this obstinate paradise. . . “

Through the artists’ gift of finding beauty in everyday surroundings viewers may deepen their own appreciations of Vermont landscapes and structures and the people who shaped them. The exhibition, “Fundamentally Vermont: Photography by Richard Brown and Furniture by Cookeville Woodworking,” will run from October 2 through November 20, 2009 at the Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild’s 430 Railroad Street gallery in St. Johnsbury. A reception to honor the artists’ work will be held there on Saturday, October 10, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. All are welcome to attend.

Photograph: Theron Cooking Supper
“Corner Cabinet,” by Cookeville Woodworking

PRESS RELEASE: Five Women’s Stories Told Through the Art of Burlington Artist Valerie Hird

BURLINGTON, VT — Renowned Burlington artist Valerie Hird unveils her latest work, The Maiden Voyages Project: The Diaries of Five Women, in an artist’s reception on Friday, October 2 from 5:30 to 8 pm in the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery at the Flynn Center. The collection, which is an exhibition of visual blogs, remains on display from Friday, October 2 through Saturday, January 2.

The Maiden Voyages Project is the translation from text to images of the diaries of five women: four from the Middle East—Iran, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian West Bank—and the artist herself, an American from Vermont. On the same day, once a month for one full year, each woman kept a detailed journal of her day.

The diaries, all illustrated by Valerie Hird, are intended to make the lives of real women of varying cultures and backgrounds more accessible. To Americans inured to the incessant media reportage of war, Maiden Voyages reduces the overwhelming issues of religion, cultural difference, and politics to a more human and intimate scale. The project moves beyond conflict- based vocabulary and allows individuals to interact on a personal level. Many of the illustrations are dedicated to the mendacity of work, home, and family—the most accessible aspects of daily life, yet the least understood in our exposure to other cultures. Although the site is bi-lingual (Arabic/English), the illustrations have very little text, thus minimizing the issues surrounding translation.

The Amy E. Tarrant Gallery—an extension of the Flynn Lobby— is open to the public on Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm. Performance attendees may also view exhibits prior to MainStage shows and during intermission. To receive information about upcoming gallery exhibits and artist receptions, update your “My Account” page at

above: August

by Valarie Hird

60 x 40”

mixed media drawing

photo: Courtesy of the artist

PRESS RELEASE: “The Art of Devotion: Panel Painting in Early Renaissance Italy”

Middlebury, VT— On Sept. 18, the Middlebury College Museum of Art will open an important exhibition focused on early fifteenth-century Italian paintings and sculptures. Entitled The Art of Devotion: Panel Painting in Early Renaissance Italy, the exhibit—which has been guest curated by Katherine Smith Abbott, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and Associate Dean of the College—brings together fifteen remarkable works from ten different collections, and addresses salient themes such as artistic training and technique, patronage, function, and conservation. The impetus for the exhibition was the Museum’s 2005 acquisition of a devotional panel of the Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Nicholas of Bari, attributed to the Florentine painter, Lippo d’Andrea. Preserved in its original frame and recently conserved, this painting will serve as one focus of the exhibit.

At heart a collaborative venture, the creation of early fifteenth-century panel paintings in Italy depended upon a tight network of connections between patrons, painters, woodworkers, and gilders. The product of these interactions was an object that served both as a focus for devotion, and as an emphatic statement about wealth and status. Patrons drove demand for large-scale altarpieces as well as for smaller devotional objects intended for domestic spaces. More often than not, these individuals served as vital conduits, directing the iconography of a given painting, indicating the shape and motif of a carved and gilded frame, and establishing how much money could be expended in the acquisition of such precious materials as lapis lazuli pigment and gold leaf. Paintings such as the Madonna and Child, attributed to the Master of 1419 and on loan from the Ackland Museum of Art at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, underscore this reality: although small in scale, the panel reveals the use of rich pigments and a significant quantity of gold leaf. When displayed in the patron’s home, such an object would have confirmed the owner’s piety, while instantly communicating volumes about wealth and taste. The same was true for the patron who owned a sculptural bust attributed to the Circle of Lorenzo Ghiberti, now in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Sensitively modeled and painted to underscore the affectionate relationship between the Madonna and Christ, this work and its near-double, from the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, were understood to exert a particular impact on women and children. At the same time, the stylistic association with one of Florence’s leading sculptors, Lorenzo Ghiberti, confirmed the patron’s taste and prestige. Devotion in Renaissance Italy was undeniably a matter of business and craft, as well as an aesthetic and religious experience, and the range of works included in The Art of Devotion captures the way in which early Renaissance patrons understood the place of art in their lives.

Tradition and innovation have long been seen as complementary forces in the development of Italian Renaissance art. While surveys of this period tend to focus on the innovative departures of artists such as Masaccio, Ghiberti, and Brunelleschi, this exhibit focuses on their counterparts: artists valued for their knowledge of and appreciation for tradition. They were contemporaries of the artist Cennino Cennini, who wrote Il Libro dell’Arte (The Craftsman’s Handbook) around 1390, providing for artists the closest thing to a “how-to” manual for its time. In it, Cennini urges young artists to “…submit yourself to the direction of a master for instruction as early as you can; and do not leave the master until you have to.” By apprenticing with an established artist from the age of 12 or so, and by training his eye and hand through constant copying, the young artist learned the techniques of the day, even as he absorbed the style of his master. In this way, artists such as Ventura di Moro, Lippo d’Andrea, and Giovanni dal Ponte carried forward approaches to iconography, composition, and style established by a preceding generation. Because many of the artists represented in The Art of Devotion were close contemporaries, even occasional collaborators, museum visitors will enjoy the opportunity to observe at close range stylistic affinities borne of common patterns of training, as well as intentional emulation.

The materials of early Renaissance artists will be on display in the exhibit, allowing viewers a first-hand understanding of the many layers that contributed to the final surfaces of tempera paintings. Typically rendered on panels of poplar wood, tempera paintings were built up through an exacting, time-consuming method that included layers of gesso and gesso-soaked linen, under-drawings either transferred from prepared cartoons or drawn freely on the panel, layers of gold leaf laid on top of a binder known as bole, and many thin layers of tempera, a pigment that was bound with egg yolk to ensure brilliance, as well as permanence. Additional enhancements, including decorative punchwork in areas of gold leaf (such as haloes) and gilded, low-relief ornaments known as pastiglia, are evident in many of the works in the exhibit. By viewing dry pigments, gesso, gold leaf, paint brushes, and drawing materials, as well as a model for an altarpiece frame, visitors to the exhibit will come closer to understanding exactly how artists fabricated the stunning works on view.

The Art of Devotion includes thirteen paintings and two sculptures intended for a range of spaces and devotional functions. Two large triptychs, one attributed to Lippo d’Andrea and on loan from the Yale University Art Gallery, and another by Ventura di Moro and on loan from Marco Grassi, NYC, reflect the practice whereby fifteenth-century patrons dedicated large sums of money to the creation of paintings that served as a visual anchor in public churches. This activity was both pious and self-serving, as the patrons sought the assurance of salvation through the act of their generosity. Both of these altarpieces depict the Virgin and Child enthroned, flanked by standing saints, some of whom may have been the patron saints of the donors themselves. This altarpiece pair is particularly intriguing from the perspective of connoisseurship, as well. As scholars have labored to comprehend fully the career of Lippo d’Andrea, his works have at times been confused with those painted by Ventura di Moro. In viewing these two large-scale and well-preserved works, as well as three others attributed to Lippo, visitors will have the opportunity to engage the very real mysteries faced by art historians working to unravel Renaissance artistic identities and to secure attributions.

As noted, Middlebury’s Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Nicholas of Bari by Lippo d’Andrea was recently conserved, a process that both enhanced the brilliance of the painting and brought to light several details long-covered by earlier generations of touch-ups and re-painting. Photographs of the conservation process will be on view, and visitors will be introduced to some of the key features of that conservation process. In addition, visitors will encounter questions of conservation throughout the exhibit, as other works on view reveal a range of conservation practices employed in the past. Just as The Art of Devotion introduces viewers to the practice of painting in early Renaissance Italy, it offers insight into the means by which contemporary conservators strive to reveal and preserve the achievements of early Renaissance painters.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Jasper Tomkins illustrations at Gifford Hospital

Illustrations by Jasper Tompkins, an award-winning author of children's books, are on view at the Gifford Hospital Gallery in Randolph until October 28, 2009. The show features 29 paintings and illustrations from three of Jasper's books. None of the artwork is for sale, but those three children's books are for sale in the Gifford gift shop.

Jasper Tomkins, who moved from Washington State to Vermont in the summer of 2007, is a recipient of the International Children's Book Award, National Children's Choice Award, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and others. He has written and illustrated 11 children's books (with many more incubating!). Website at


Here's another Vermont project calling for art in action:

An international exhibition, January 27 - February 10, in Nagoya, Japan.

ON THE PLANET: we will live on this planet, curated by the Japanese videographer, Izuru Mizutani. His proposal, conceived of in relation to the 2010 Conference on Biodiversity to be held in Nagoya later in the year, was awarded this curatorial slot at the Yada Gallery of the Nagoya Citizens Museum.

Four Vermont Artists, Sophie Hood, Janet Fredericks, Janet Van Fleet and Riki Moss have been invited to install individual work together in a 1200 square foot space. Their idea is to envision some aspect of biodiversity on this planet, collectively presented in a way that celebrates our rural Vermont environment, its beauty and vulnerability distinct from the urban landscapes inspiring the other eleven artists from Japan and New York, and to spotlight the alarming escalation of species loss, technically a period of "mass extinction", largely caused by the exploding population and actions of a single species - us.

As Andrew C. Revkin recently wrote on his New York Times blog Dot Earth, "It’s clear that the arts, from visual to musical, can have a role in shaping how people perceive the planet and their place on it.”

That's the challenge: how do these four artists intend affecting perception?

Janet Van Fleet exploring the web of life:

Riki Moss reassembles curious bio forms.

Sophie Hood's wearable creature-sculptures from plastic bags.

Janet Fredricks marks the river as she walks it.

Later in the year, Vermont will reciprocate with many more artists exhibiting in Barre at SPA and at the Millstone historic quarries, and at Flynndog during next year's Art Hop. A video
documenting these exhibits and the artists' perspectives will be offered for screening at the
the tenth anniversary of the 191 parties to the United Nations' Convention on Biodiversity, which will be held in Nagoya in October, 2010.

So, can the visual arts affect government? Are the perceptions, the questioning, the mark making, envisioning, crafting, conceptualizations - the tools of the visual artist - capable of urging compassion for our vulnerable planet? Is the depiction of earth's beauty enough to convince a person - a government - that the earth is worthy of care? Can we even comprehend that we are all part of one being? Or are we only interested in saving ourselves?

Or is it up us? Can we conceive of our own species extinction?

Follow along on the blog Nagoya/Vermont.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: A Splash of Color at The Lazy Pear Gallery

The Lazy Pear Gallery is proud to present the work of Vermont artists Steven Goodman and Wendy James in the show, “A Splash of Color,” September 23 through November 15. This show features two artists that use vibrant colors sparingly but with powerful effect. The technique helps these artists to create paintings that are simultaneously eye-catching and calming. In addition, the show includes Wendy James' black and white photomontages. In these images Wendy combines multiple photographs to create mysterious, surrealistic, and humorous senarios that force the viewer to reconcile an instant in time that initially looks realistic but, on closer inspection, is obviously impossible.

The Lazy Pear Gallery will host an artist reception on Friday, September 25, from 4 pm to 8 pm, during the Montpelier Art Walk to give the public an opportunity to meet the artists and learn more about their work. The Lazy Pear Gallery is located at 154 Main Street, Montpelier, VT. It has off-street parking and is ADA accessible. Additional information about the gallery and Wendy James’ work can be found at or by calling (802) 223-7680.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Feick Arts Center to Feature Art Faculty

POULTNEY, VT - Faculty members in the Green Mountain College art program kick off the academic year with a show at the Feick Fine Arts Center. Exhibitors include Jennifer Baker, Karen Swyler, Jonathan Taylor, Richard Weinstein and Dick Weis.

The faculty exhibit opens September 7. An artist reception will be heldat the Feick on September 10 from 4-6 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Prof. Jennifer Baker (arts & sciences) holds a master's of arts degree in medical and biological illustration from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a bachelor of arts degree in graphic design from San Jose State University. She recently returned from a sabbatical focused in part on developing a partnership between GMC and the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland.

Prof. Karen Swyler (art) regularly exhibits her ceramic work across the country. Her pieces have been featured in recent shows including

"Functional Art," a three-person show at Celadon Gallery in Water Mill, N.Y. and a two person show: "Pat Swyler & Karen Swyler: Mother/Daughter" at m.t. Burton Gallery in Surf City, N.J.

Adjunct professor of photography Jonathan Taylor holds a BA from

Marlboro College, and has completed graduate work at institutions

including the University of Vermont and Columbia College of Art.

Prof. Richard Weinstein (fine art) maintains his work with the Cove

Gallery in Wellfleet, Mass. and the John Rugg Gallery on Nantucket. He holds a MFA in painting from the University of Florida.

Prof. Dick Weis (fine art) was recently accepted as a Fulbright Senior

Specialist in Art and will be on the Fulbright Specialist roster for the

next five years. He runs Otherweis Limited with his wife, Nancy Weis, as an umbrella for their studio work in painting, drawing, printmaking, fibers, handmade paper and installation and for their work as artist-educators.

The faculty exhibit will be on display through October 2. The Feick Fine Arts Center is open to the public Monday through Friday from 1-5 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Vermont North by Hand Annual Autumn Studio Tour

Vermont North by Hand Artisans’ Co-op will be holding its annual Open Studio Weekend Tour on the weekend of October 3rd and 4th, with studios open from 10am to 5 pm. For two days, the public will have an opportunity to visit some of the Upper Valley’s best artisans and crafts people in their working environments.

Twenty workshops and studios will be displaying, selling and demonstrating a wide variety of handcrafted items made in V
ermont. Original works of pottery, hand-painted silk clothing, sheepskin coats and accessories, hand-colored etchings, and watercolor paintings will be on view. Other artists include a cabinet maker that builds furniture from reclaimed antique lumber, and a rustic furniture maker who will demonstrate his portable sawmill. Food will be available at the Corinth Town Hall.

Vermont North by Hand is a non-profit artists’ cooperative which has sponsored this open studio tour for four years. Vermont North promotes and supports the appreciation of the arts through events, studio tours and educational programs. Bruce Murray, a long-time local potter and president of the organization said, “We look forward to opening our workshops and studios. Autumn is a wonderful time of year to display and discuss the fine work don
e by the members of Vermont North Artisans by Hand. ”

Three artists -- Mark Nielsen, James Gardner, and Tony Conner (images, left to right) -- will be showing their work at Towle Hill Studios, 28 Center Road, in Corinth.

Brochures with maps are available by calling Bruce Murray at 802-222-5798, or visit Vermont North By Hand’s website

Vermont North By Hand gratefully acknowledges the support of this event by: North of the Falls Gallery, Perry’s Oil Service, and Wells River Savings Bank.

Armoires by
Bill Peberdy of Cookeville Woodworking

WALKABOUT: 2009 South End Art Hop in Burlington

By Janet Van Fleet

This year I started Art Hopping from the SEABA office at 180 Flynn Avenue, where they are exhibiting the work of seven artists loosely arranged around the idea of food and eating. Michael Kuk’s funny installation, Bulk Shopping, is right inside the front door, and three pastel and collage pieces by Cathy McCarthy were great backdrops for the volunteers hard at work at Art Hop Central. We walked out the back door of the office into the warren of studios, hallways, and businesses that populate this old industrial building, happy to be guided by Mark Waskow (SEABA’s Art Hop Chair and a well-known art collector), who knows his way around, also knows everybody, and is both speedy and indefatigable. In a back hallway I found this impressive carved door by Jenna Kelly, displayed on an old steel-clad door. It is at once strongly primitive, like the African Dogon carved granary and house doors, and also emphatically contemporary, like the graphic art of Keith Haring.

A few feet away, up a small staircase, Borough Studio and Gallery is displaying work by their three excellent resident artists – Emily Wilson (enthusiastic circular forms and linear extensions), Jodi Whalen (cityscapes and occasional bug-like cars), and Shawna Cross (abstract oils).

On to Flynndog, whose hall is dominated by huge, impressive banners by Peter Schumann, one of Vermont’s resident geniuses. His wall paintings and texts however, along with photographs by Ayman Mohyeldin, seem a bit more like journalism or reportage than like art, if it’s possible (or desirable) to make such judgements...

The other spaces at 208 Flynn Avenue are less like warrens and more like upscale urban enterprises, but still hard to find your way into and through if you don’t know what’s what. Downstairs at Galen Health Care Solutions, I liked Sam Thurston’s line-drawing illustrations of passages from Chaucer, Keats, and Shelly. At Propeller Media Works, Keith Wagner’s metal sculpture and paintings, and new work by Hal Mayforth, are elegant and well-displayed.

Nearby, and with a similarly prosperous feeling, Select Design is showing several interesting suites of work – ceramic sculpture by Alex Consantino (which suffered a bit from being displayed on the visually-noisy brick walls), digital prints by Mark Gonyea (“Mr. Oblivious”), and mixed media works by Adam Devarney. His acrylic paintings of hands combined with tanks (the elements of the paintings are cut out and re-assembled on panels with acrylic medium) were particularly compelling.

Downstairs at Frontside Foundation, the feeling was a mite funkier, with wild and wooly paintings by Mikey Welsh. In the back of the space, Welsh has painted a fabulous mural on the wall in front of the restrooms. And on the other side of the exhibit room, Beth Pearson’s paintings and monoprints provide a counterpoint that is a bit more sedate (but not at all stodgy).

Up Pine Street to the heart of the Hop. I digress to say that even someone on a reviewing mission can only look at so much work before eye fatigue begins to set in (well, unless you’re Mark Waskow, maybe...). In previous years I’ve started from the north end, and worked my way south, but this time I did it the other way around. I don’t know if it’s that change in my navigational system, or whether it’s a change that’s happened out there in the world, but I experienced a real difference between the more polished fit and finish of the Flynn Avenue spaces and the funkier displays in the Pine Street venues. With the exception of the new SPACE (Soda Plant Artist Collective Environment) area and the Alderson/Jordan Silverman space, I began to feel slightly oppressed by the dark, unfinished surfaces and tight hallways (at the Soda Plant) and the clunky hanging systems (at the Maltex Building).

But some clunky hangers can be invigorating (and perfect), like in Al Salzman’s exhibit, THE ECONOMY: Seven Allegories, outside the truck entrance to Sterling Hardwoods. Out front, he had a statement in rhyming couplets called The Bull Market, and a quote from Nietzsche, “We have art so that we do not die of reality,” behind which the acrylic paintings on oval canvases stood in a line, sporting protective plastic bags ready to be drawn down in case of rain.

Art Hop is a work of love, enthusiasm, and art appreciation for which the city of Burlington should be both proud and grateful. Many of the exhibits (including the juried show in the Soda Plant hallways, open 9 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday and 10 am - 2 pm Saturday/Sunday) are open for the rest of September. Have a look at the SEABA website and call places you’re interested in visiting to see if they are still welcoming visitors.