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Art Notes: Two Rivers Shows Instructors’ Work

The life-blood of Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction is its artist members. Usually there are 10 or 12 of them, and their membership dues pay a big chunk of the bills.

But a great many prominent printmakers, both from the Upper Valley and from around New England, have taught workshops at the studio over the past decade, and for the next two months, Two Rivers is exhibiting a selection of their recent work.

What first struck me about this show was the scale many of these artists use. A lot of the prints are pretty big, and have an expressive power that matches their size.

Two prints from Amparo Carvajal-Hufschmid’s Hobo Series replicate the size of a building’s worn wooden siding. Carvajal-Hufschmid, who lives in Alton, N.H., uses a variety of techniques in these prints to bring to life the marks that hoboes used to leave to tell their fellow wanderers the lay of the land. The marks were first used in the 1930s, when hoboes crisscrossed the country in search of work.

One of Carvajal-Hufschmid’s prints at Two Rivers is titled An Angry Person Lives Here. The sign is a circle with a round smudge in the middle, but in this instance, a trickle of paint or ink has dribbled down from the circle, like a stick-figure torso. The sign is small and made on a lower corner, as if the maker was cowed or fearful. I was glad to see someone resurrect these symbols, now that our economy is as stratified as it was in the 1920s. Carvajal-Hufschmid is doing one of the things that art does best, making visible people and ideas that would otherwise stay hidden.

Boston-based printmaker Joel Janowitz also has two sizable prints at Two Rivers, but the prints are as free and relaxed as Carvajal-Hufschmid’s are rigorous and organized. Summer House — After Hours, which shows a darkened interior and fading light out the windows, has a hushed quality, a sense of quiet and repose. Janowitz’ prints are monotypes, the print style that’s most like painting, and they are characterized less by precision than by mood. In Summer House he captures a fugitive moment between light and dark and the frame is replete with a sort of suspended emotion.

In Nascent I, Betsey Garand employed spitbite aquatint and chine colle to render a print that veers far from its botanical origins. The print has glowing orange forms that look like seeds or fruit connected as if by umbilical cords. It’s part nature and part science fiction. The result is beautiful and mesmerizing.

Rekekah Tolley, currently a visiting artist at Amherst College, has two prints in the show that feature snakes and flowers — read into that whatever symbolism you like. Her prints are lithographs on mulberry paper and follow the precepts of Japanese ink painting, fluid forms on empty backgrounds. Twosnakes Flower shows a pair of snakes, in black ink, entwined around a red flower. The balance between the two forms and colors results in an image that communicates serenity amid turmoil.

Roots to Routes, the lone print in the show by Ilana Manolson, a Concord, Mass., printmaker, could seem like a rote exercise, a contrast between a plant’s spreading roots and a city’s web of roads. But the black roots are weaving their way over the city, which is turned upside down and printed in a wan pale brown. There’s no question as to which is ascendant.

The faculty show also includes work by Sara Amos, Brian Cohen, Dan Gottsegen, Lynn Newcomb, Clemente Orozco, Bob Siegelman, Ellen Wineberg and Bert Yarborough. Since it’s running for two months, the show will have a second First Friday reception, on April 5.

∎ It saddens me to note the passing of Thelma Follensbee. Her obituary appeared in Saturday’s Valley News.

A longtime employee of H.W. Carter and Sons, the Lebanon manufacturer of work clothing, Follensbee was a key figure in an exhibition at AVA Gallery and Art Center in January. I had the pleasure of interviewing her, and she was also featured in a short documentary film about the Carter factory and its conversion in to AVA Gallery.

That she was 94 and still sewing her own clothes is a testament to her persistence and character. The documentary Connecting the Threads: Overalls to Art at the H.W. Carter and Sons Factory was made by Upper Valley Community Access TV, AVA and Historic New England, and is available for viewing online at historicnewengland.org. Follensbee figures prominently in the film and it’s a lasting tribute to generations of Lebanon residents like her.

∎ AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon opens its annual Silent Auction for free viewing and early bird bidding on Saturday. Final bidding takes place at the Silent Auction Party on March 23 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., although a bidder can offer a maximum bid in advance to acquire an auction item on the spot. More than 100 artists and craftspeople are donating works, and the fundraiser also includes items donated by businesses. This year, the show features an auction of 13 vintage Dartmouth Winter Carnival posters. Tickets for the party are available now at a cost of $25 for AVA members, $35 for nonmembers. At the door, tickets are $40, no matter who you are.

Of Note

Chris Hadsel has been restoring the painted theater curtains that graced the stages of town halls and grange halls in northern New England around the turn of the last century. Hadsel and her crew at Curtains Without Borders, the nonprofit she directs, have identified 185 such curtains in Vermont alone, most of which have been restored.

Curtains Without Borders has set its sights on the rest of New England. On Tuesday night at 7, she will be in Plainfield Town Hall to describe and show slides of the curtains she has documented and restored, an event that will be free and open to the public. There are many in the Upper Valley, including a particularly ornate “grand drape” in Haverhill’s Alumni Hall that once hung in Woodsville’s opera house.

Also on Tuesday, Hadsel and the Plainfield Historical Society will unveil the grand drape that once hung in town hall in Meriden and has been in storage backstage at Plainfield Town Hall for 27 years. The curtain was painted circa 1900 by West Lebanon painter William Culver.

∎ Randolph’s Chandler Center for the Arts is holding an art auction fundraiser on March 24, 5 to 8 p.m. The aim of the fundraiser, aside from having a good time, is to pay down the cost of the Chandler’s recent renovation. The auction offers art, fine furniture, dinners out, even vacation weeks in Florida and the Cayman Islands. Admission is $10 and includes a chili dinner. Seating is limited. Call 802-728-6464 for more information.

∎ ArtisTree Gallery in Woodstock has issued a call to artists for the third annual installment of “Unbound,” an exhibition that encourages a reimagining of the book. The show is open to all artists 18 and older working in New England and New York. Submissions must be postmarked or emailed by June 15 with a $30 entry fee.

∎ Printmaker Lois Beatty will lead a session of Monotype Madness, one of Two Rivers Printmaking Studio’s signature workshops, on Saturday and Sunday. The demo is free, but the workshop costs $195 plus a $20 materials fee.

Openings and Receptions

Newport’s Library Arts Center opens an exhibition of art by Newport Middle School and High School students with a reception tomorrow evening, 4 to 6.

In addition, the Library Arts Center is getting ready to host its second annual Peeps Diorama Contest. Submissions are due by 4 p.m. on March 21, and winners will be announced at a reception the following night. It costs $5 to enter. See the LAC’s website, libraryartscenter.org, for more information.

Ongoing

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.

∎ Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction shows prints by Lois Beatty, jewelry by Scavenger owner Stacy Hopkins, and work by Toby Bartles, Ria Blaas, Ben Peberdy and David Powell.

∎ “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.

∎ Hanover’s Howe Library hosts the 37th annual Elden Murray Photographic Exhibition and Competition.

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

∎ Nuance Gallery in Windsor hosts “Resiliency,” featuring work by Joyce Harden and Nance Silliman.

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

∎ 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.

∎ “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.

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.