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Art Notes: In Newport, Art That Opens Your Eyes

  • Evan Clayton Horback's "Mataji" is part of the Library Arts Center show in Newport, N.H.

    Evan Clayton Horback's "Mataji" is part of the Library Arts Center show in Newport, N.H.

  • Evan Clayton Horback's "Benediction" is part of a show at the Library Arts Center in Newport, N.H.

    Evan Clayton Horback's "Benediction" is part of a show at the Library Arts Center in Newport, N.H.

  • Pippa Drew's "Main Road Monhegan" is part of the Library Arts Center show in Newport, N.H.

    Pippa Drew's "Main Road Monhegan" is part of the Library Arts Center show in Newport, N.H.

  • Evan Clayton Horback's "Mataji" is part of the Library Arts Center show in Newport, N.H.
  • Evan Clayton Horback's "Benediction" is part of a show at the Library Arts Center in Newport, N.H.
  • Pippa Drew's "Main Road Monhegan" is part of the Library Arts Center show in Newport, N.H.

Going to look at art furnishes us with an opportunity to be startled, to have our way of seeing changed.

That quality is abundant at Newport’s Library Arts Center, which is holding its annual “Selections” show. The exhibition, which features artists chosen from the Library Arts Center’s annual juried show, includes artists who are relatively new to the Upper Valley, a refreshing surprise.

Evan Clayton Horback, a painter living in Newbury, N.H., is trying to reconcile personal, spiritual experience with the trappings of daily life, and his mixed media work is full of that tension.

Much of that tension takes the form of traditional, female Indian figures, juxtaposed with images of cars, guns, cartoonish characters and the other details of contemporary life that tend to dominate consciousness.

In devi, for example, the top section of the painting shows the outlines of two men bare-knuckle boxing. They look to be straight out of an old Charles Atlas ad; one wears tight, polka-dotted trunks. Below them are the mouth and nose of a woman in traditional Indian dress. Devi is the Sanskrit root of “divine” and is the female power without which male divinity lacks authority.

Horback, who grew up in New Jersey, left college to spend years in ashrams in the United States and India. He is now married and has been an artist in residence at Windy Hill School, a laboratory preschool at Colby-Sawyer College. His paintings are a jump into the deep end of the pool for people who, like me, are not attuned to Hinduism, but they are nonetheless legible, and worthy of further inquiry from the viewer.

The work of Louis J. Cassorla doesn’t call for deep reading or knowledge, but it has a magnetic charm. Cassorla, a Newport resident, makes charcoal drawings of creatures that inhabit a very unnatural world.

In my favorite, Disintegrating Caterpillar, the insect of the title falls from a leaf into individual little humanoid balls with arms and legs. The head is about to land on a soft flower, and is grinning like a child about to land in a snowdrift.

I can’t recall seeing work by Post Mills painter Pippa Drew, and found her still lifes and landscapes pleasing. She has an easy way with paint, creating texture, light and shadow with a minimum of fuss. A standout: Breakfast, a meal often eaten in haste, and the painting feels as if it were made the same way, with a few quick strokes on Masonite. It’s a modest, but lively exploration of the medium.

Exploration was a theme for a few of the artists in the “Selections” show. So, Then, Betsy Derrick’s suite of six oil paintings, based, as the Hanover artist wrote in her artist statement, on the catenary curve, the arc made by a chain or wire supported at two ends, feels more tightly controlled than her idea might suggest. Still, the muted color palette and series of curves is graceful, a bit spacey, a lava lamp on canvas.

I found Georgina Forbes’ recent paintings in washed-out acrylics most absorbing where she exercised restraint. In Marsh Dawn, Forbes, of Norwich, creates a landscape in which a narrow strip of land is both out on the horizon and perched atop a roiling body of water, a metaphor for the teeming life found in the muck.

The show also features watercolors by New London resident Margaret Dwyer, notably a suite of paintings of children playing in the snow that hang together nicely, and life drawings by Suzanne Whittaker, of Bedford, N.H., that feature a strong sense of line.

Newport’s Library Arts Center holds its annual “Selections Exhibition” through March 8.

∎ This is a big month for the LAC. The start of “Selections” coincided with the annual Newport Winter Carnival photo contest, and the show is being exhibited under new gallery lights. The LAC also is getting ready to host its second annual Peeps Diorama Contest, in which citizens of all stripes are invited to place tiny marshmallow chicks and bunnies in whatever scenes of heroism or mortal peril they can devise, within the bounds of good taste, of course.

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, libraryartscenter.org, for more information.

Of Note

After a week’s postponement, AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon opens its fifth annual “Best of the Upper Valley High School Exhibition” with a reception and awards ceremony tomorrow evening, 5 to 7. 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.

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 at Vanderbilt University in studio art and cell and molecular biology, 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.

AVA also received recently a grant for $25,000 from the Lane and Elizabeth C. Dwinell Trust for maintenance and future renovation of AVA’s Carter-Kelsey building at 11 Bank St., in Lebanon. Expect a future announcement from AVA, which is celebrating its 40th year, about continued renovation of the former clothing-factory-turned-art-factory.

∎ 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 on Wednesday with a demo on 3-D printing, and constructing with prints, by Sue Schiller. The demos are an hour long, 11 to noon, and free and open to the public.

Also at Two Rivers, Lebanon artist Patty Castellini will hold a “Monotypes for Kids” class on Feb. 23 for children ages 10 to 15. The class runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and cost $95 with a $20 materials fee. No experience necessary.

Openings and Receptions

Kimball Union Academy continues its series of bicentennial art exhibitions with a show by graduates Emilie Bosworth-Clemmens, Tony Bragg and Nat Voss. The show opens tomorrow evening with a reception from 5:30 to 7 in the Meriden school’s Taylor Gallery. The show is on view through April 6, but the gallery is closed March 1 to 20 for school break.

∎ Nuance Gallery in Windsor opens “Resiliency,” featuring work by Joyce Harden and Nance Silliman, with a reception Saturday, 4-6 p.m.

∎ Bigtown Gallery in Rochester continues a show of small works by the impressive roster of artists the gallery represents through March.

Last Chance

∎ 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 tomorrow.

Ongoing

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

∎ Hartland Library hosts “Sundrenched Color,” paintings by Katheryne B. Sharp.

∎ Chandler Gallery in Randolph hosts “20-30/2D-3D,” an exhibition of art by young Vermont residents. A 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.

∎ 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 artnotes@vnews.com.