Art Notes: AVA Gallery Reforms Its Juried Summer Exhibition

  • "Yo, Yo Michael," a charcoal drawing by Michael Heffernan, is at AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon.

    "Yo, Yo Michael," a charcoal drawing by Michael Heffernan, is at AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon.

  • "Dreamscape with Horse," a painting by Marilyn Milham, is included in “Paintings and Etchings,” an exhibition opening Saturday in the Howe Library’s Ledyard Gallery in Hanover. (Courtesy Howe Library)

    "Dreamscape with Horse," a painting by Marilyn Milham, is included in “Paintings and Etchings,” an exhibition opening Saturday in the Howe Library’s Ledyard Gallery in Hanover. (Courtesy Howe Library)

  • "Yo, Yo Michael," a charcoal drawing by Michael Heffernan, is at AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon.
  • "Dreamscape with Horse," a painting by Marilyn Milham, is included in “Paintings and Etchings,” an exhibition opening Saturday in the Howe Library’s Ledyard Gallery in Hanover. (Courtesy Howe Library)

For the last 20 years the Juried exhibition at the AVA Gallery in Lebanon has been an annual summer event, a chance to take the temperature of the flourishing arts scene in the Upper Valley. This year the gallery has instituted a change; the juried exhibition will become a biennial, held next in 2015. In interim years the gallery will exhibit the works of the artists selected by the juror or jurors the previous year.

The 2013 show, judged by Colleen Randall, chair of the Studio Art department at Dartmouth College, recognized three artists for their work: Joseph Saginor, Toby Bartles and Michael Heffernan. Leah Berry was also singled out for the Cornelia M. Rahmelow Photography prize. An exhibition of their works is now up at AVA through Aug. 27, and there will be an opening reception Friday evening from 5 to 7.

Taken together, the artists’ work is a powerful testament to the importance of the body, and its psychological weight, as a subject.

Bartles’ expressive charcoal drawings look like arrangements of coiled human hair set against dead white paper, or bristling, wiry empty birds’ nests from which life has now flown.

Saginor’s paintings, particularly in works such as Family Secrets and E xpulsion , his take on the Renaissance theme of the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, have a watchful, penetrating quality, as if Saginor has managed to pierce the walls that people throw up to conceal their innermost selves. The large scale painting Family Secrets shows four people facing the viewer, three clothed and one female nude. The lines of their bodies have the swiftness and dash of cartoons, but their expressions are inscrutable, hinting at a lifetime of suppressed secrecy.

Michael Heffernan’s pencil drawings have an acute radar for the bonds, and the tensions, of family life that are revealed when he observes them sitting together, eating or watching television. There’s something nearly photographic in the level of detail that reminded me of the photographs of Sally Mann or Nicholas Nixon, who followed the Brown sisters from young womanhood to middle age. Heffernan catches the moods of the boy and girl, the woman, even a cat that pokes its head up above a sofa. Silence is a dominant presence here; sometimes tinged with anxiety, sometimes comfortable.

Berry’s large-format photographs, which are divided between studies of people partying, and studies of parts of the body, are ambitious and technically virtuosic but I’m not sure she’s yet found a spine to her work, a throughline that would make a viewer recognize her work as hers alone.

Also opening Friday at AVA and running through Aug. 27 is the show “Horses and Hounds,” works by Christine Orcutt Henderson and Derek Bell. Henderson paints horses, and Bell, his dogs. Both artists are attempting to catch those fleeting moments when animals are at their most free. Bell and Henderson will give a talk about their work on closing night at 6:30.


In conjunction with Bookstock this weekend in Woodstock, the Artistree Gallery on Route 12 looks at how ideas of the book have changed in its show “Unbound, Vol. IV.” In the era of the Kindle, the tablet and the computer screen, what does it mean to still make and read books? This juried exhibition, which opens tomorrow with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., explores books as art and commerce. There will be special hours this weekend: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The show continues through Aug. 23.

Ledyard Gallery , in Hanover’s Howe Library, opens “Paintings and Etchings,” recent work by artists Marilyn Milham and Owen McDowell, on Saturday. A reception is planned for Aug. 7, 5 to 7 p.m.

Of Note

James Taylor, not to be confused with the other James Taylor, will regale audiences with his stories of the weird and the eccentric, Friday evening at the Main Street Museum of Art in White River Junction. Taylor, who lives in Baltimore, is considered to be one of this country’s leading experts on the history and culture of the circus sideshow. The entertainment begins at 7 p.m. Entrance is by donation. Taylor also speaks this evening at Lebanon College from 5 to 7 p.m.

N ext Wednesday the Hood Museum of Art will hold a discussion on “Political Art: On War and Censorship” that centers on a recently acquired, large-scale work by artist Daniel Heyman, a Dartmouth graduate of the class of 1985, titled W hen Photographers Are Blinded, Eagles’ Wings Are Clipped . Heyman met with and drew portraits of men imprisoned in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and has spent his career drawing attention to issues that many people would rather sweep under the rug.

The group will meet from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Enrollment for this workshop is limited. Registration is required by calling 603-646-1469 by July 28.


A idron Duckworth Art Museum , Meriden. Duckworth’s former home and studio on Bean Road in Meriden hosts “Exhibition XXIII: Simplified Forms in Color,” paintings and drawings by Duckworth, up through July 27. The textiles of Randolph artist Bhakti Ziek are also on view through July 27, as are the the ceramics of Mark Shapiro. The sculptures of Bob Shannahan and Fitzhugh Karol are on view through Nov. 2.

Art on the River Gallery , Springfield. “802: Just Vermont,” a photography show by artists Goldie May and John Sinclair continues through Aug . 19.

Big Town Gallery , Rochester , Vt. “A World of Wonder,” an exhibition of early 20th century wooden games and toys that have been collected by Strafford artist Peter Thomashow, continues through Aug. 24.

Chandler Gallery , Randolph. “Floral Seductions,” a show including the works of nearly 30 artists, runs through Aug . 24. An exhibit of portrait and landscape paintings by Andy Newman continues through August 24.

Cider Hill Art Gallery , Windsor. Egg tempera paintings by Gary Milek, co-owner with Sarah Milek of the gardens and gallery, are up through the summer.

Converse Free Library , Lyme. The Betty Grant Gallery in the Lyme Library exhibits drawing and paintings by Carole-Anne Centre through July 31.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center , Lebanon. The works of artists Jeanne Amato, Arief Suriawinata, Wendy Tucker, Mark Vernon and the Upper Valley Ship Modelers Guild are on view through September.

Great Hall , Springfield , Vt. Jack Rowell’s exhibition of photographs of The Hale Street Gang can be seen t hrough Oct. 10. Also exhibiting is Randolph designer and artist Phil Godenschwager.

Hood Museum of Art , Hanover. The Hood Museum of Art hosts “Enrique Martinez Celaya: Burning as It Were a Lamp,” an installation by the Miami-based artist, through Aug. 10; “The Art of Weapons: Selections from the African Collection,” through Dec. 20; and “Allan Houser: A Centennial Exhibition,” a show of sculpture by the late American artist, in honor of the centennial of his birth, through next May .

Hopkins Center , Dartmouth College, Hanover. A show of drawings by artists Charles Spurrier, Elizabeth Mayor, Christopher Schade, Jane South, Joey Slaughter and Doug Wirls is on view in the Strauss Gallery through Aug. 31. Paintings by Luca Molnar and photographs by Matt Storm, both recipients of the Department of Studio Art’s Perspectives on Design (POD) Award, are up in the Jaffe-Fried Gallery, also through Aug. 31.

Kilton Public Library , West Lebanon. A show of photographs by Brenna Colt, “ made sense at the time”, are on view in the Gallery at the Kilton Public Library through Sept. 22, 2014.

Library Arts Center and Studio , Newport. Watercolors of Gerard Doucette are on view through Aug. 1.

Long River Studio , Lyme. “Of Fabric, Ink, Mud and Paper,” a show of work by brother and sister John Quimby and Jane Quimby, continues through Aug. 15.

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site , Cornish. “The Hairstyle Files: Hirsute Gentlemen and Coiffured Ladies of the Gilded Age,” an exhibit of relief sculptures by Saint-Gaudens continues through Oct. 31.

Scavenger Gallery , White River Junction. The works of Ben Peberdy and W. David Powell are on view through August.

Towle Hill Studio , Corinth. Photographs by David Horak and Jim Mauchly will be on view this weekend.

T unbridge Library . ArtSpace at the library features the works of Abel Fillion and Lyal Michel through Friday.


Towle Hill Studio in Corinth will exhibit photographs by David Horak and Jim Mauchly this weekend. An earlier version of this story had an outdated listing.

Nicola Smith can be reached at