Friday, October 8, 2010

Art Review: Collaborations with Nature – Janet Van Fleet and Emiko Sawaragi Gilbert @ the Flynndog

by Rob Hitzig

There is a fascinating show of wood sculptures, titled Afterward, at the Flynndog Gallery in Burlington, VT, Sept 30 - Oct 29, by Emiko Sawaragi Gilbert and Janet Van Fleet. Emiko's part of the show is titled Cornucopia and Janet's is All Aboard. Both artists have collaborated with nature to create the work. They haven't carved, painted, or significantly altered what is normally viewed as refuse and debris by most people, thereby helping the viewer to see the world in new and interesting ways.

Though not in a formal gallery, this show is likely to be one of the best you will ever wander into in Burlington; the rest of Vermont; or just about anywhere. Better still, the work is also some of the most affordable you'll find anywhere -- all but two of Emiko's pieces are available to a loving home as gifts from her and the Vermont forest from which they came while all of Janet's pieces, which she vows are not returning to her now clean studio, have no prices because she is happy to accept offers. Hence, this is a great place to do early holiday shopping (Janet's work is available as individual pieces or as their current groupings).

In Cornucopia, Emiko has used "scrap" branches and trees, left over from a firewood collection event, that are reshaped into interesting forms. Each is made from a single, continuous section of a tree. They are so well crafted that the viewer may wonder whether the forms are natural tree growths or caused by some other force of nature like bugs or wind.

Janet Van Fleet's half of the show, titled All Aboard, she has cleaned out her studio and repurposed her found object sculptures from the last 12 years to create a metaphorical and visual "train" that depicts life in all its beauty and ugliness. Appropriately, The Eagle Points The Way To A Different Future, leads the parade. With its gnarly wood face and driftwood chip feathers, the eagle seems to have the wisdom needed for charting a better direction.

For a full review of the show and more images, please visit Rob's blog,