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Art Notes: Sculpture Garden Blooms Again at AVA Gallery and Art Center

  • "Split Lady" by the late sculptor Kira Fournier, at Kira's Garden on the AVA Gallery property in Lebanon, N.H., on June 18, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    "Split Lady" by the late sculptor Kira Fournier, at Kira's Garden on the AVA Gallery property in Lebanon, N.H., on June 18, 2013.

    Valley News - Sarah Priestap

  • A brick path winds around the well-seperated sculptures at Kira's garden besides the AVA Gallery in Lebanon, N.H., on June 18, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    A brick path winds around the well-seperated sculptures at Kira's garden besides the AVA Gallery in Lebanon, N.H., on June 18, 2013.

    Valley News - Sarah Priestap

  • "Split Lady" by the late sculptor Kira Fournier, at Kira's Garden on the AVA Gallery property in Lebanon, N.H., on June 18, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • A brick path winds around the well-seperated sculptures at Kira's garden besides the AVA Gallery in Lebanon, N.H., on June 18, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

Kira’s Garden, a sculpture garden at the east end of AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, had been open only a few years before a construction project on Bank Street more or less closed it down.

Tomorrow, the garden reopens with an exhibition of new sculptures. Named for the late Kira Fournier Schore, and given by her husband, Benjamin Schore, the small garden is a lush corner of the Upper Valley’s arts scene.

Until this week, it has been a quiet place too. While it was full of work by sculptors who were close to Kira Fournier for its first three years, that work hadn’t been changed. Constant refreshment is the norm for art venues, so the garden lapsed from the public eye a bit. Then it was emptied of art in fall 2011 when Lebanon’s ongoing sewer separation project passed AVA’s lot.

“We were going to reinstall last year,” but construction was pushed back, said Margaret Jacobs, exhibition coordinator at AVA.

Not all of the work in the show opening tomorrow was installed when I visited on Tuesday. But the garden has rebounded from last year’s construction and was fragrant and blooming.

“It’s just amazing how this found its way back again,” said Bente Torjusen, AVA’s executive director. Some of the plantings, a railing along the street and part of the garden’s brick walkway had been removed during construction, Torjusen said.

The garden features a permanent installation of a work by Kira Fournier, a bronze sculpture titled Split Lady that rests on a black granite plinth. The figurative work is of a reclining woman. Her torso and lower legs appear to have been hewn from a log, and the log has been split. It’s a clever play with materials, since only the piece’s patina gives it away. And it’s a gentle statement about vision, persistence, integrity and connection. The “lady” of the sculpture is whole, despite being “split” by the artist. It’s a small, simple, revelatory work, and worth a visit to the garden all by itself.

The new work includes sculptures by Dimitri Gerakaris, Sue Katz, Michael Kraatz and Susan Russell, Phil Lonergan, Joe Montroy, Justin O’Rourke and Teresa Taylor.

Plans call for a return to the original vision for the garden, as a spot for a yearly show of sculpture. “We’re really excited to start doing this and have another place for sculpture at AVA,” said Jacobs, who is taking proposals from sculptors who have a single recent work to exhibit.

Also opening tomorrow is AVA’s 20th annual Juried Summer Exhibition. A reception for the juried show and for the reopening of Kira’s Garden, is planned for 5 to 7 tomorrow evening.

For this year’s Juried Exhibition, juror Colleen Randall, chairwoman of Studio Art at Dartmouth College, selected 83 works by 73 artists, Jacobs said. Randall chose them from 310 entries submitted by 176 artists who hail from 81 communities across the Twin States.

Of Note

I was remiss last week in calling the Main Street Museum a nightclub. That’s far too simplistic. What I ought to have called it is a clubhouse. It’s really the funkiest and most downhome Upper Valley gathering place for people interested in art.

∎ The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish holds a sculpture workshop on Saturday called “Eyes, Ears, Noses and Mouths: Modeling the Features.” The workshop runs from 1 to 4 p.m. and costs $40. For information, call 603-675-2175.

Last Chance

∎ Hanover’s Howe Library hosts its annual “55+ Art Show,” which features work by amateur artists over the age of 55, through Wednesday.

Ongoing

“Vermonty,” a suite of witty and winsome illustrations of rural Vermont by Shawn Braley, is on view at Tunbridge Public Library.

The Aidron Duckworth Art Museum in Meriden exhibits oil paintings on paper by Bakersfield, Vt., artist Rona Lee Cohen and an outdoor exhibition of sculpture by Fitzhugh Karol, an Orford native now living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Also on view is “Forms in Space,” the museum’s 21st exhibition of its namesake artist, which consists of paintings from a 1970 exhibition in South Africa, when Duckworth was head of the Department of Fine Art at the University of Natal.

Summer exhibitions at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center include fabric figures by Linda Rubenstein, photographs by Kelly Michaelsen, mixed media by Carolyn Enz Hack, oil paintings by Alison Vernon, collages by Barbara Newton and paintings and sculpture by Gowri Savoor. Guides to the exhibitions are available at the hospital’s information desks.

“Changing Gears: The Digital Evolution,” digital paintings by Har tland artist Gloria King Merritt, is on display in The Great Hall, in Springfield, Vt., through Aug. 23. Also in The Great Hall is a wonderfully potent exhibition of five paintings by Henry Swierczynski, a former engineer at Fellows Gear Shaper.

∎ Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction hosts a show of prints from the collections of the studio’s artist members.

∎ AVA Gallery and Art Center exhibits drawings by C. Stuart White Jr., a co-founder of Banwell Architects, through July 6, in the second-floor Johnson Sisters Library.

∎ Zollikofer Gallery at the Hotel Coolidge in White River Junction exhibits “Black and White River,” photographs of White River Junction by Swanton, Vt., photographer Clair Dunn.

∎ Newport’s Library Arts Center hosts a themed exhibition on the subject of “Heroes.”

“Re Constructions: Sculpture and Works on Paper” by Elana Herzog, a New York-based sculpture and installation artist who is the 2013 Saint-Gaudens Fellow, is on view through July 14 in the Cornish park’s Picture Gallery. A closing reception is planned for July 13, 4:30 to 6 p.m., which will include a talk by Herzog at 5.

∎ Randolph’s Chandler Gallery hosts “Suspended Worlds,” an exhibition of photographs of some of Vermont’s restored painted theater curtains that date from 1890 to 1940.

∎ Norwich Public Library hosts “Landscapes & Wildlife,” works in watercolor, oils, gouache, scratch board, colored pencil, and pen and ink by Fran Greenwood.

∎ The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Hanover Gallery is showing the work of wildlife photographer Andrew Thompson, through June.

∎ The Montshire Museum of Science hosts “Playing with Time,” a traveling exhibition that allows viewers to seemingly change the speed of time, to perceive such hidden phenomena as the flapping of a hummingbird’s wings or the expansion of the universe.

∎ Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art hosts “Word and Image in Contemporary Art,” a show curated in collaboration with 24 senior studio art majors that includes Ed Ruscha’s great 1963 painting Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas; “The Women of Shin Hanga: The Judith and Joseph Barker Collection of Japanese Prints”; “Evolving Perspectives: Highlights from the African Art Collection at the Hood Museum of Art” and “Objects and Power: Manifestations of Inequality.”

∎ BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt., hosts “Masterworks,” which features both sculpture and prints by the late Hugh Townley as well as works from his collection, which includes pieces by Eugene Atget, Harry Callahan, Salvador Dali, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Aaron Siskind, H.C. Westermann and Ossip Zadkine.

Art Notes appears in the “Valley News” on Thursday. Send email to artnotes@vnews .com.