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Art Notes: At AVA, the Past Shapes the Present

  • Three Draped Figures, by Judith Brown, a relief in wax on foamboard.

    Three Draped Figures, by Judith Brown, a relief in wax on foamboard.

  • Seated Man by Paedra Bramhall

    Seated Man by Paedra Bramhall

  • Three Draped Figures, by Judith Brown, a relief in wax on foamboard.
  • Seated Man by Paedra Bramhall

I half expected “AVA Beginnings: Work by Founding and Longtime AVA Artists” to be a sort of time capsule, representative of the founding of the nonprofit gallery and art center 40 years ago in a Norwich barn.

But while the show includes pieces from those days, it also presents recent work from artists who have been active in the Upper Valley for the past four decades or more. “AVA Beginnings,” which is on view in Lebanon through May 3, offers a taste of the period of culture ferment that begat the gallery, and samples of what the gallery itself has fostered as a place for artists to sell their work and teach classes.

Voices of the past include artists who have passed on, including Judith Brown, who died in 1992, Aidron Duckworth (2001), Larry Howard (2010) and Cornelia Rahmelow. Of these, Brown packs the biggest punch. She specialized in rendering life-size female forms out of scrap steel, but the six small works in “AVA Beginnings” show a mastery of more humble materials. Three Draped Figures , a small relief in wax on foamboard, shows three cloaked female figures with a fierce implacability that calls to mind the Fates or the Furies.

In Stovefront Windows with Six Figures , Brown placed small, rough metal sculptures of body parts that look like tiny Greek bronzes, miniature mythological characters.

Rahmelow is represented by three images from her “Fish” series, close- up photographs of colorful fish. But the real treat is her undated portrait of Elizabeth Mayor, one of AVA’s founding artists. Mayor exudes a rather imposing demeanor. One leg is crossed over the other, and the top of one long white aristocratic foot is turned toward the viewer.

Nearby is a witty sculpture by Mayor. For Survival Wear , Mayor made a short rubber tunic and studded it with short knotted strands to which she attached what looks like Cheerios. The description of the piece, from 1990, says simply “rubber and oat bran.”

The context of the works by Judith Brown, Lili Mayor and others is one that marked a sea change, both nationally and in the Upper Valley. In 1973, Dartmouth College had just gone co-ed and also began to recruit and admit more Native Americans. It was a messy transition that’s still ongoing as Dartmouth’s alumni body grows more diverse.

It was also a great time for the arts in Hanover. The Hopkins Center was a mere 11 years old, and Pilobolus, the celebrated modern dance company, was founded at Dartmouth in 1971.

“AVA Beginnings” reflects these developments. Tim Matson’s black and white photographs of Pilobolus are the most direct example.

But where else in the Upper Valley are we likely to see Paedra Bramhall’s excellent 1972 sumi-ink drawing Seated Man hanging next to Sally Rutter’s 1968 lithograph Are You Going to the Beaux Arts Ball, Baby? Both pieces are as fresh and energetic as when they were made.

AVA has been in Lebanon since 1990, but those early days in Norwich and Hanover, and the works made back then, are important to our understanding of the art being made now. It’s rare that we get a chance to see a historical survey, however fragmentary.

If you go, be sure to pick up a stapled packet of photocopied news articles and artist statements that sketches the history of AVA and its artists. It will be a handy reference throughout the year as AVA holds more 40th anniversary events.

Of Note

Tatyana Cherepova, the featured artist this month at The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in Hanover, will demonstrate her jewelry making technique on Saturday afternoon, 2-4.

∎ Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art offers a lunchtime gallery talk at 12:30 today with Allen Hockley, the Dartmouth art history professor who curated “The Women of Shin Hanga: The Judith and Joseph Barker Collection of Japanese Prints.” The Hood also will hold a tour of the show on Saturday at 2 p.m. and a discussion workshop on Japanese woodblock prints on Wednesday evening, 6:30 to 8:30.

Also on view at the Hood: “Word and Image in Contemporary Art,” a show curated in collaboration with 24 senior studio majors, includes Ed Ruscha’s great 1963 painting Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas; and “Evolving Perspectives: Highlights from the African Art Collection at the Hood Museum of Art.”

Mark your calendars: Center for the Arts has planned “Arts on the Green,” a juried arts and crafts show on the New London green, on July 6 and 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio in the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College is bringing in three acclaimed jewelry artists and metalsmiths for three days of events later this month. The events include a free public slide lecture and exhibition on Friday evening, April 26, at 6:30 in the Hop’s Alumni Hall. On Saturday, April 27, the artists, Andy Cooperman of Seattle, Donald Friedlich of Madison, Wis., and Deborah Lozier of Oakland, Calif., will teach a day-long workshop in the studio at a cost of $125 a person ($75 for Dartmouth students). For more information, call 603-646-3226.

Openings and Receptions

BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt., hosts “Masterworks,” which features both sculpture and prints by the late Hugh Townley as well as works from his collection, which includes pieces by Eugene Atget, Harry Callahan, Salvador Dali, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Aaron Siskind, H.C. Westermann and Ossip Zadkine. A reception is planned for Saturday evening, 5 to 7. Hood Musem of Art Director Michael Taylor will lead an informal discussion on the show on May 18 at 4 p.m.

∎ BALE, the South Royalton nonprofit, opens an exhibtion of hooked rugs by Royalton fiber artist Gisele McHarg with a recption tomorrow evening at 7 at its community space on the green.

Ongoing

Chandler Gallery in Randolph holds its annual “Area Artists Show.”

∎ Williamstown, Vt., artist Jan Rogers shows graphite, pastel and colored pencil drawings at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.

Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction hosts “Oceana,” panels by Jenny Lynn Hall and also shows woodware by Ria Blaas and jewelry by gallery owner Stacy Hopkins.

∎ AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon hosts “AVA Beginnings: Work by Founding and Longtime AVA Artists,” part of AVA’s ongoing celebration of its 40th anniversary, and “Musings,” watercolors by Stephanie Reininger.

∎ Dartmouth College’s Studio Art Exhibition Program shows work by artist-in-residence Luke Fowler and “no kill shelter,” art by Jodie Mack, a professor of film and media studies, in the Hopkins Center galleries.

∎ “Picture Show: As Seen Through My Eyes,” a solo show by Tunbridge photographer Fred Carty, is on view at Tunbridge Public Library.

∎ “My Favorite Places,” mixed media on canvas by Christine Hauck, is on view at West Lebanon’s Kilton Public Library.

∎ Spring art exhibitions at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center include oil paintings by Deborah Frankel Reese and Gillian Tyler and watercolors by Marlene Kramer and Lynn Hoeft.

∎ Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction exhibits prints by the studio’s non-member faculty.

∎ ArtisTree Gallery in Woodstock hosts “MUD (season): Viridian and Vermillion,” a group show that reflects on this messy time of year.

∎ Colby-Sawyer College in New London holds its annual Gladys Greenbaum Meyers Juried Student Art Exhibition in the college’s Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery.

∎ Ledyard Gallery in Hanover’s Howe Library hosts “Capturing Nature,” work by Susan Bridge and Gail Barton.

∎ Norwich Public Library hosts an exhibition of photographs by Elizabeth Dean Hermann and traditional and contemporary textiles from India.

∎ “Underwater,” an exhibition of recent large oil paintings by Strafford artist Micki Colbeck, is on view at the Vermont Supreme Court in Montpelier.

∎ “How People Make Things,” an exhibition that looks at how all sorts of objects are made, is on view at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich through June 2. Admission to the Montshire is $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 2 to 17.

Art Notes appears in the “Valley News” on Thursday. Send email to artno tes@vnews.com.