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Art Notes: A Master Of Collage’s Dark Irony

  • Marcus Ratliff's "Billiard Table Miracle" is part of the show Marcus Ratliff: Recent Collage at the Big Town Gallery in Rochester, Vt., from May 7 to June 30, 2014.

    Marcus Ratliff's "Billiard Table Miracle" is part of the show Marcus Ratliff: Recent Collage at the Big Town Gallery in Rochester, Vt., from May 7 to June 30, 2014.

  • Marcus Ratliff's "Duet" is part of the show Marcus Ratliff: Recent Collage at the Big Town Gallery in Rochester, Vt., from May 7 to June 30, 2014.

    Marcus Ratliff's "Duet" is part of the show Marcus Ratliff: Recent Collage at the Big Town Gallery in Rochester, Vt., from May 7 to June 30, 2014.

  • Marcus Ratliff's "Billiard Table Miracle" is part of the show Marcus Ratliff: Recent Collage at the Big Town Gallery in Rochester, Vt., from May 7 to June 30, 2014.
  • Marcus Ratliff's "Duet" is part of the show Marcus Ratliff: Recent Collage at the Big Town Gallery in Rochester, Vt., from May 7 to June 30, 2014.

One of the great strengths of collage as a visual art medium is its power to recombine images. We live in a visually saturated age, and artists who take up collage are saying “Enough is enough.” The surfeit of images from photography, art history and advertising can provide a lifetime’s worth of investigation in collage.

Norwich artist Marcus Ratliff is a master of the form. Some of his recent work, currently on display at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt., is seamless in execution. Among Ratliff’s collages are works that look like pages cut from a Victorian magazine published by time travelers.

Time is one of the chief elements a collage can examine, and Ratliff often deploys imagery from one era to question the certainties of another. In Good Morning , a man dressed like a 19th or early 20th century London gentleman is face to face with a milkman dressed in a suit of egg-yolk orange. There’s something off about the milkman, though. He’s an alien or some sort of automaton. Looking at the two figures, you can almost hear the cracks appearing in the distinguished gentleman’s world.

What’s going on between the gentleman and the milkman is a form of dramatic irony. The gap in time or space or origin between them says “if only you’d known then what you know now, you poor thing.”

Not all of Ratliff’s work exploits this particular gap, but there’s always a gap between elements for the viewer to bridge. Building those bridges between two or more juxtaposed items is a joyous activity.

“Recent Collage,” by Marcus Ratliff, is on view at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt., through June 30.

Of Note

Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art opened “Allan Houser: A Centennial Exhibition” last weekend. The show celebrates Houser’s birth, in 1914, with a substantial exhibition of his sculpture in the plaza next to the Black Family Visual Art Center, and a show of his drawings in the fall.

This evening at 5:30, Katherine Hart, the Hood’s senior curator, gives a tour of the sculpture exhibition, followed by a screening in the Hood Auditorium of Unconquered: Allan Houser and the Legacy of One Apache Family , a 32-minute documentary about Houser.

ArtisTree Gallery in Woodstock is calling for entries to “Unbound: Vol IV,” an exhibition that looks at books, from artists’ books to altered books. The call for submission is open to all New England and New York residents who are 18 or older. All artwork must be original in concept, design and execution. The deadline is June 14. Visit www.artistreevt.org or call 802-457-3500 for more information.

Betsy Derrick’s stint as artist in residence at Long River Studios in Lyme continues today and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Saturday, Derrick will talk about her favored medium, oil pastels, and will be on hand from 1 to 3 that afternoon.

Sheri Hancock-Tomek will teach a solarplate workshop at Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction on May 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $95 for non-members, $75 for members, with a $25 materials fee. Another workshop, Image Weaving With Sarah Amos, is set for May 31 and June 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The workshop costs $250, $220 for members, plus a $55 materials fee.

Openings and Receptions

The Newport Library Arts Center opens its annual Juried Regional Exhibition with a reception Friday night, 5 to 7.

The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction holds its eighth commencement ceremony on Saturday morning at 11 in the Briggs Opera House. This year’s speaker is the creator of the bestselling Amulet series and illustrator of the Harry Potter book covers, cartoonist Kazu Kibuishi.

Immediately after the ceremony, CCS will open its annual Thesis Exhibition of work by graduating students at the school’s headquarters in the Colodny Building at 94 S . Main St. Both the ceremony and the exhibition are free and open to the public, and the show will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday through June 22.

Dartmouth College opened its annual senior art majors show on Tuesday, with the work of 25 artists on display in the Hopkins Center’s Jaffe-Friede and Strauss galleries and the Nearburg Arts Forum in the Black Family Visual Art Center through June 15.

Last Chance

Zollikofer Gallery in White River Junction’s Hotel Coolidge exhibits the “CCS Student Art Show,” work in a variety of media by students at the Center for Cartoon Studies, through Monday.

Ongoing

AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon hosts “The Walls of the Reliquary,” paintings by Wayne Nield; “Material Matters,” recent assemblages by White River Junction artist Dave Laro; “White on White: Churches of Rural New England,” a touring show of photographs by Massachusetts photographer Steve Rosenthal and sponsored by Historic New England; and in AVA’s second-floor library, works from students in a recent drawing seminar. Nield will give a gallery talk about his work on June 5 at 6 p.m., and the shows are open through June 6.

Lyme’s Converse Free Library hosts a new exhibition of paintings in watercolor and gunpowder by Carole-Anne Centre, through July. Call 603-795-4622 for more information.

“Themes of Nature: Native Portraits of Vermont,” pastel and watercolor paintings by Patricia Killian, are on display at Norwich Public Library through June.

The Ledyard Gallery in Hanover’s Howe Library hosts the annual “55+ Art Show,” a group exhibition of work by amateur artists age 55 and over. This is the show’s 28th year, and it continues through May 28.

White River Junction’s Scavenger Gallery hosts “Never Seen Again,” a suite of paintings by New York artist Judith Vivell that tackle the subject of extinction. Also on display will be new jewelry by Scavenger owner Stacy Hopkins from her collection of work cast from natural history specimens.

Vivell, a realist painter devoted to the natural world, also has an exhibition of large-scale portraits of birds in the lobby of the Vermont Supreme Court in Montpelier, through June 27.

Two Rivers Printmaking Studio hosts “Collaboration: A Study of Emotion in Color and Form,” prints by Patty Castellini and Victoria Shalvah Herzberg. The show consists of monotype and solar plate etchings exploring color and the human figure, prints the artists made working together and on their own. The show will run through June 4.

Art on the River Gallery, a new showcase for small works at 100 River St. in Springfield, Vt., hosts “802: Just Vermont,” photographs by Goldie May and John Sinclair. Call 802-885-6156 for more information.

Randolph’s Chandler Gallery holds its Area Artists Show, featuring work by artists from east-central Vermont, through June 15.

“2-D 4-D Fiber Art,” an exhibition of work by Hanover fiber artist Shari Boraz, is on view at the Roth Center for Jewish Life in Hanover. Boraz dyes and embroiders natural fibers and has been working in textiles since the 1970s. The show continues through June 15.

The Hood Museum of Art hosts “The Art of Weapons: Selections from the African Collection,” and “In Residence: Contemporary Artists at Dartmouth.”

Aidron Duckworth Art Museum, in Duckworth’s former home and studio on Bean Road in Meriden, hosts “How Colors Sing,” a show of landscape drawings and abstract paintings by Amherst, Mass., artist Lorna Ritz, and “Exhibition XXIII, Simplified Forms in Color,” a show chosen by two of the museum’s new trustees that features simpler forms and figures from Duckworth’s oeuvre.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s spring arts shows include work by painter Georgina Forbes, digital painter Gloria King Merritt and photographer Hunter Paye, as well as participants in the yearly Employee & Volunteer Art Show.

“Girls, Girls, Girls,” recent paintings by Daisy Rockwell, is on view at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction.

Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com, or 603-727-3219.