Art Notes: Young Artists Show Spooky and Surreal Works in Randolph
Athena Petra Tasiopoulos' "Transcend 2012 mixed media on paper" is part of a group show at the Chandler Center for the Arts. (Courtesy the artist)
The painting "Tunbridge" by South Royalton, Vt., artist Joan Hoffmann, is part of "American Wilderness and Habitats: Oils and Watercolors," on display at the Tunbridge Public Library from January 28, 2013, until March 22, 2013. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, February 3, from 2-4 p.m. The public is invited.
Seldom does a group show arranged by age or season feel coherent, and that’s the case with “20-30 2D-3D,” an exhibition of art by young Vermont residents at Randolph’s Chandler Gallery.
If there’s a dominant mode, it’s spookiness, or indeterminacy. Is there something about young artists, reared as they were on 9/11, the war on terror and the Great Recession, that leads them to take up mystery and the border between waking and dreaming as themes?
If so, bring it on, to paraphrase a prominent Texas politician who once seemed pretty sure of himself. The work chosen by jurors James Sturm and Rachel Gross for “20-30” is long on the supernatural and the surreal and pleasingly short on certainty.
Of particular note were three paintings by Strafford artist Mayellen Matson. Pigs is Equal is a grisly trainwreck, in a good way; I couldn’t look away. A man holding a prize shoat grins broadly. The flawed grammar of the title mocks the bespectacled man, even as it recalls Orwell’s Animal Farm, but he seems blissfully jubilant. The runny blood-red background makes clear that this loving relationship isn’t going to end well.
Matson’s other two paintings in the show are more ambiguous still. In Creep, a young woman stares out of the frame. She appears to be standing in water, but that’s not entirely clear. She certainly looks creepy, the way she appears to be moving toward the viewer with inscrutable intent. But we’re looking at her, too. Who’s the creep now?
And in I Left Her Standing There, Matson strands a nude female torso with the head of a buck — a seven-pointer, by my count — in a winter landscape. Who the “I” of the title might be isn’t clear. Is it the artist or is it the deer, which gazes malevolently back at the viewer. My money is on Matson, who seems to practice a cool detachment toward her subjects. The painting carries an erotic charge that’s straight out of mythology or fairy tale territory, more stories that often don’t end well.
In the same vein is a suite of small mixed media works by Montpelier artist Athena Tasiopoulos. She takes faces from vintage photographs and alters and augments them to create small icons of states of being. A series of 10 small images and another of five larger ones places the ghostly faces on creamy paper with shapes and lines drawn around them like ancient forces, or the embodiment of thoughts and desires.
Tasiopoulos writes in her statement that she likes to free the photographed figures from their context, but she traps them in compositions that seem to me just as confining, even if she does for the ghostly faces the favor of making them otherworldly. These small pieces are defined, in the end, by a lovely sense of proportion and of being unstuck from time.
A few other works held my attention. Abel Fillion’s Tunbridge Drawing One consists of one long spiral that spins out to irregular scalloped edges, like a tree’s rings. Ben Peberdy is represented by a lone collage, but it bears his trademark sense of humor. And Bethel artist Christopher Kerr-Ayer’s work in glass, particularly his Totem Head, is graceful, yet more robust than the medium typically suggests.
There were a few works that confused me a bit. I wondered why Corinna Thurston presented giclee prints of her delightful colored pencil drawings of a hermit crab and a hooded oriole rather than the originals. This is a trend I wouldn’t mind seeing squashed. Giclee prints, which are made by a computer printer, aren’t substitutes for prints made by hand, either through traditional printmaking or photographic processes. Scott Welch’s dark photographic study of clouds also falls under this category.
The exhibition also includes a painting by Chris Orcutt, a Woodstock-based artist who is becoming known for her sensitive depictions of horses. Stella shows a horse and rider competing in dressage, and the horse’s long nose and neck are life-size and almost godlike.
Orcutt has another connection to the show. Her cousin’s band, The Summit of Thieves, is playing at the closing reception on March 2. The band, a power pop quartet of Lyndon State College students, continues the exhibition’s 20-something theme. The show runs through March 13, and on the evening of the March 2 reception the artists will talk informally about their work from 5 to 6. Gallery hours are Friday afternoons, 3 to 5, and Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 2, or by appointment.
Newport’s Library Arts Center opens its annual Selections Exhibition with a reception tomorrow evening, 5 to 7. The show opens under new LED gallery lighting installed this month. The “Selections” show draws on the LAC’s annual juried exhibition. This year’s selected artists are Louis J. Cassorla of Newport; Betsy Derrick of Hanover; Pippa Drew of Post Mills; Margaret Dwyer of New London; Georgina Forbes of Norwich; and Evan Horback of Newbury, N.H. The show is on view through March 8.
First Friday in WRJ
Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction is opening a new exhibition, “Print and Process,” that lays bare the methods studio members used to make the prints on display. The exhibition features a monthlong series of demonstrations of printmaking techniques, starting Saturday with a demo on woodblock relief prints by Elizabeth Mayor. The demos are an hour long, 11 to noon, nearly every Wednesday and Saturday at the studio, which is in the Tip Top Media Arts Building on North Main Street.
An opening reception for “Print and Process” is planned for 5:30 to 8 tomorrow evening.
Two Rivers also is holding a weekend etching workshop with Brian Cohen on Feb. 9 and 10. Also on First Friday:
∎ Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction shows prints by Lois Beatty, sculpture by Ria Blaas and jewelry by Stacy Hopkins. A reception, including a wine tasting, is planned for 5:30 to 8.
∎ The Main Street Museum holds a reception from 6 to 8 for brothers Ben and Drew Peberdy, who have a small show in the museum. Drew has made a series of cardboard masks of the main characters in the appalling movies watched by the Knights of the Mystic Movie Club, which meets at the museum. At 8:30, the music starts with The Law Abiders and It’s a Bear! Admission to the reception is free, and for the music it’s $5 to $10.
∎ ∎ Zollikofer Gallery in the lobby of the Hotel Coolidge has held over an exhibition of photographs by members of the Quechee Area Camera Club until Feb. 7.
Openings and Receptions
“American Wilderness and Habitats: Oils and Watercolors,” an exhibition of paintings by South Royalton artist Joan Hoffmann, opened Monday at the Tunbridge Public Library. . A reception is planned for Sunday afternoon, 2 to 4.
∎ ∎ Artistree Gallery in Woodstock opens a special exhibit and sale of work by Annette Compton with a reception tomorrow evening, 5:30 to 7:30. Compton, who died last year, was a beloved art teacher in the Upper Valley. The Artistree show continues through Feb. 9.
∎ “Mosaics, Mandalas and Mehndi,” paintings by Amy Fortier, opens Saturday in the Howe Library’s Ledyard Gallery. A reception is planned for 1-3 p.m.
AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon hosts “The Way We Work,” an exhibition of works in progress by 19 artists with studios in AVA’s Carter-Kelsey Building in almost every imaginable material, through tomorrow.
∎ “Beguiled by the Wild: The Art of Charley Harper,” colorful prints by the celebrated graphic artist, and a show of work by Center for Cartoon Studies students that takes off on Harper’s work, are on view at the Montshire Museum through Sunday. Entry to the Montshire costs $12 for adults and $10 for children ages two to 17.
∎ Taylor Gallery at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden exhibits work by graduates Joon Sung Park and Elizabeth Wilson, through Feb. 8.
Photographers Chris Esten and Linda Bryan are collaborating on a documentary portrait project of Newbury, Vt., in recognition of the town’s 250th birthday. The project is ongoing, but a sample is on view at Newbury’s Tenney Memorial Library through Feb. 15.
∎ “Light and Space,” an exhibition of large-scale prints by East Barnard artist Sabra Field, and work by fiber artist Karen Madden of Poughquag, N.Y., sculptor Pat Musick of Manchester, Vt., and Springfield, Vt., painter Dan O’Donnell, is on view in the Great Hall of the renovated Fellows Gear Shaper factory in Springfield, Vt., through May 10.
∎ Norwich Public Library exhibits “Nature,” paintings and collage by Brenda Phillips.
∎ “Survival Soup,” an exhibition at the Main Street Museum, features a riot of recent work by Travis Dunning and Matt Riley, who live in Stockbridge, Vt., and Seth Tracy, a Randolph native, along with a small display of work by Drew and Ben Peberdy of White River Junction.
∎ Dartmouth College’s Studio Art Exhibition Program hosts “Everything is on the Table,” an exhibition of sculpture by artist-in-residence John Newman and an invitational show of “tiny work” in the Hopkins Center’s Jaffe-Friede and Strauss galleries.
∎ The winter exhibitions at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center include mixed media work by Lynda Knisley; photographs and digital paintings by Richard Wilson; photographs and poems by James Jones; paintings by members of the Vermont Watercolor Society; ink drawings and oil paintings by Kathleen Swift, and oil paintings by Betsy Derrick.
∎ The Hood Museum of Art exhibits “Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art,” which offers a survey of Australian Aboriginal work since the 1960s.
Art Notes appears in the “Valley News” on Thursday. Notices must arrive two weeks prior to the Thursday before an event. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.