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Art Notes: So Many Artists, So Much to Take In

In certain respects, what’s most notable about AVA Gallery and Art Center’s 20th Annual Juried Summer Exhibition is what’s not on display in Lebanon.

Colleen Randall, the Dartmouth College studio art professor who judged the first juried summer show and returned as juror this year, winnowed 310 submissions from 173 artists down to 83 works by 73 artists. Randall wrote that she strove to create “a dynamic, visually-unified exhibition.” With so much work to choose from, the first quality must have been abundant, and what constitutes a “visually-unified” show when so many artists are involved is anyone’s guess.

Two things, neither of them earth-shattering, caught my attention about Randall’s selection: The drawings in the show are extraordinarily good, as the Juror’s Recognition Awards reflect; and the show comprises, once again, a vast range of materials.

I have neither the authority nor the inclination to second guess Randall’s picks. Even if I did, it would be hard to argue against the works on which she bestowed awards. Toby Bartles’ maximalist abstract drawing, Untitled #1, is a master class in form and shadow. The subtle compressed charcoal colors in warm tans and reds and the composition’s rounded and crossed forms suggest a fleshy figure without providing precise, recognizable human details. The drawing hovers in a space between the real and the unreal. It’s also a single-frame lesson in cross-hatching, which Bartles, of White River Junction, uses both to create volume and to subtract it. I spent almost as much time looking at this one work as I did at the rest of the show, partly to understand Randall’s decision, but ultimately because it is utterly captivating.

Michael Heffernan’s drawing, Sitting, Reading, Sleeping, is similarly bravura. Heffernan, of Newbury, Vt., drew a young man and woman at ease in a sitting room. The young man appears to be dozing with a comic book in his lap, while the girl is reading. Between them is a large television, also sleeping, in which the artist and his easel are reflected. I admired the light-handed way in which Heffernan seems to be commenting on his medium, or on the nature of media in general. Everyone in the drawing is in an in-between space.

In a big exhibition, I’m always on the lookout for smaller works, and a few such works caught my attention. Gordon Meinhard’s collage, Unfolded Map, consists of a series of childlike drawings on heavy paper or boxboard. It’s clearly a document that can’t be folded up again. Kathi Smith’s sumi ink drawing, Studio View — Amherst, features a leafless tree and a tumbledown fence spread across four sheets of paper. And Wojciech Bogdanowicz’s pastels, Hip-Hop and Wojciech have an off-kilter, cartoonish charm.

The wide array of materials at play includes Sue Katz’s Writing Tablets, four pieces of slate overlaid with marker and paper, Ruthie Murray’s None So Blind, which makes use of hundreds of nails, and Camille Ames’s Accumulate, which consists of two glass panels inset with raised glass bubbles, each of which is half filled with water.

The show also includes a wide range of paintings, including Joseph Saginor’s A Day at the Beach, another of Randall’s honorees. I don’t see in it what Randall did: She cited the strength of its composition, and rightly so, but I didn’t find any emotional acuity in the painting’s reclining figure beyond a sort of ecstacy that brought to mind Stephen Dedalus’s epiphany on the beach in Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

I can’t say whether that’s what Saginor had in mind, of course. And that’s not the purpose of going to an art show, not entirely. We go to see what’s in our own minds, and at AVA there’s likely something for every cast of thought.

Also at AVA, Kira’s Garden, named for the late Kira Fournier Schore, and given by her husband, Benjamin Schore, features new sculptures by Dimitri Gerakaris, Sue Katz, Michael Kraatz and Susan Russell, Phil Lonergan, Joe Montroy, Justin O’Rourke and Teresa Taylor.

Openings and Receptions

The Woodstock Gallery opens a show of new work by Sheryl Trainor with a reception on Saturday, 4 to 6 p.m.

∎ Norwich Public Library shows “Travels Around,” photographs by father and son Doug and Steven Lufkin. A reception is planned for July 12, 5 to 7 p.m.

∎ “Watercolor Stories,” paintings by members of the local chapter of the Vermont Watercolor Society, is on view at West Lebanon’s Kilton Public Library.

Of Note

The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish holds a sculpture workshop on Saturday called “An Introduction to Figurative Sculpture.” The workshop runs from 1 to 4 p.m. and costs $40. For information, call 603-675-2175.

Last Chance

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

∎ 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, through Sunday.

Ongoing

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

The Aidron Duckworth Art Museum in Meriden exhibits oil paintings on paper by Bakersfield, Vt., artist Rona L ee 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 Hartland 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.

∎ 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.

∎ 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.