Art Notes: Upper Valley High School Artists Receive Their Due

An opening reception for AVA's Best of the Upper Valley High School Exhibition in Feb. 2012. (Courtesy AVA Gallery)

An opening reception for AVA's Best of the Upper Valley High School Exhibition in Feb. 2012. (Courtesy AVA Gallery)

For high school students who participate in sports there is no end of encouragement. After school, practices stretch until dinner time, and coaches urge players who show promise to seek greater opportunities. Even marginal players are reminded that the sport they’re learning can be a lifelong pursuit that enhances well-being.

Imagine if we treated art the same way.

Art is as much a discipline as any sport, but because it is interpretive and sensual, rather than objective and merely physical, it’s harder for the public to embrace achievement in the arts with the same certainty as, say, a state basketball title.

For five years now, AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon has provided us with an opportunity to sample the artistic output of area high school students. At tomorrow evening’s opening reception for the “Best of the Upper Valley High School Exhibition,” prizes will be awarded for the best work in ceramics, digital art, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and wearable art. Art teachers at 20 high schools have nominated work by their students, and Canaan artist and longtime AVA instructor Michael Kraatz has chosen the award winners.

The reception for the show — tomorrow night, 5 to 7 — is usually packed with students and their parents, and the work is accomplished and, as you’d expect, fresh and lively.

Also opening tomorrow night is an exhibition in AVA’s Johnson Sisters Library of work by Benjamin Blais and Thanapoom “Mo” Boonipat, who are students at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine.

Blais, who double majored in studio art and cell and molecular biology at Vanderbilt University, works with watercolor, pastel and colored pencil. Boonipat, of Bangkok, Thailand, began studying Chinese painting as a child in both China and Thailand.

Proceeds from sales of their work will go to Art Hope, a program that deploys creativity and community bonding to aid cancer patients, and Soi Dog Foundation, a nonprofit that helps neglected and abused dogs and cats in Thailand.

Of Note

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us, which means Easter can’t be far away. Soon, every pharmacy and grocery store will be overrun with colorful marshmallow animals. That’s right, Peeps season is almost here.

If seeing those tiny confectionary critters stirs your creative juices, Newport’s Library Arts Center has you covered. The LAC is calling for entries for its second annual Peeps Diorama Contest.

A tradition, if that’s the right word, started by The Washington Post, the peeps diorama puts the little marshmallow chicks and bunnies into historical scenes. George Washington crossing the Delaware? Usain Bolt winning Olympic gold? Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction? Well, the bounds of good taste might rule out the latter, but otherwise, have at it.

The LAC is holding two open studios, on March 5 and 12, from 5 to 7 p.m., where entrants can work on their dioramas with the center’s glue guns and paint.

Submissions are due by 4 p.m., March 21, and winners will be announced at a reception the following night. It costs a mere $5 to enter. Last year’s contest featured 72 entries, and there’s a whole new year of history to document in cardboard and sugar. See the LAC’s website,, for more information.

∎ The Hood Museum of Art holds a Family Day on Sunday afternoon, noon to 5, to introduce families and children ages 6 to 12 to contemporary Aboriginal Australian art. The event is free, features art activities in the gallery and doesn’t require pre-registration. Call 603-646-1469 for more information.

Also, on Wednesday evening the Hood will screen Rabbit-Proof Fence, a 2002 Australian film that tells the story of a family broken apart during the years of Australia’s “stolen generation,” during which half-caste children were taken from their Aboriginal mothers. Stephen Gilchrist, the Hood’s curator of indigenous Australian art, will lead a brief tour of “Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art,” at 6:30, with a screening to follow at 7 in the Hood Auditorium.

∎ Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction exhibits “Print and Process,” a show 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, which continues Saturday with a demo on monotype prints by Lois Beatty, and on Wednesday with a demo by Rachel Gross on chine colle. The demos are an hour long, 11 to noon, and free and open to the public.

Two Rivers also is holding a weekend etching workshop with Brian Cohen on Saturday and Sunday. Cohen was the founding director of Two Rivers and a renowned printmaker. Call 802-295-5901 for information.

Openings and Receptions

Cafe 232 in South Strafford is showing paintings by the late Harlow Lent through the winter.

∎ Hartland Library opens “Sundrenched Color,” paintings by Katheryne B. Sharp, on Feb. 14.

Last Chance

∎ Taylor Gallery at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden exhibits work by graduates Joon Sung Park and Elizabeth Wilson, through tomorrow.

∎ Artistree Gallery in Woodstock hosts a special exhibit and sale of work by Annette Compton, through Saturday. Compton, who died last year, was a beloved art teacher in the Upper Valley.


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.

∎ Chandler Gallery in Randolph hosts “20-30/2D-3D,” an exhibition of art by young Vermont residents. AA round-table talk by the artists is planned for 5 p.m. March 2, followed by a closing party with The Summit of Thieves, a band of Lyndon State College students.

∎ “American Wilderness and Habitats: Oils and Watercolors,” an exhibition of paintings by South Royalton artist Joan Hoffmann, is on view at the Tunbridge Public Library.

∎ “Mosaics, Mandalas and Mehndi,” paintings by Amy Fortier, is on view in the Howe Library’s Ledyard Gallery.

∎ Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction shows prints by Lois Beatty, sculpture by Ria Blaas and jewelry by Stacy Hopkins.

∎ 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.

∎ 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.

Art Notes appears in the “Valley News” on Thursday. Notices must arrive two weeks prior to the Thursday before an event. Send email to