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Art Notes: Newport Picks Best Of Dioramas

Like many Christian holidays, Easter has ancient roots. Long before Christ, people celebrated the return of daylight and warmth after the long winter.

My point is that how we celebrate annual events changes as the decades pile up. To wit: Peeps.

The Newport Library Arts Center’s second annual Peeps Diorama Contest occupies the week leading up to Easter. There are now dozens of these contests around the country. If the apocalypse arrives on Good Friday some year, future archeologists will have a field day puzzling over what all those little Peeps mean.

The 60 or so entries are all over the map in subject matter and execution. The “Best in Peeps” award went to The Peep Ballet , by Alison Howland, 10, of Newport. Push a button on the front of her diorama and the five purple bunnies in tutus pirouette, thanks to an electric motor from a Lego set.

Others were more involved. Another award winner, The Sinking of the M.V. Peepsarge , by Jill and George Montgomery, shows the boat sinking, a bit more dramatically than the actual ship’s partial submersion on Lake Sunapee this winter.

Brooke, 15, Rette, 12, and mom Lynn Solomon of Wilmot, N.H., took home a first place in the “Family or Group” category for We the Peeple , a restaging of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

I was pleased to see a reference to recent events in the Vatican, with a large, last-minute entry by Tom Kelley, of Newport, titled The Holy Basilica of Saint Peeper . That wasn’t the only diorama with a religious theme. The Crucifiction ... in Peep , despite the misspelling, featured a Peep on a wooden cross , an unorthodox homage to the death of Christ .

My personal favorite was Zombie Attack!! in 3-D , in which the peeps were painted with grotesque faces. Pop culture was well represented, with Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry both making appearances, along with The Mupeep Show . There were at least two Olympics-themed dioramas. There were some nursery rhymes and fairy tales: Peep ’n Boots , Peepsel and Gretel and Once Upon a Peep .

Others were more local in aspect, including Violette’s Grocery Store, just down the street from the exhibitio n , a handful of school classrooms and the Library Arts Center itself.

“We realized there weren’t any repeats from last year,” said Kate Niboli, director of the LAC. One of the great things about the Peeps contest is its appeal to people who don’t usually make art or visit art galleries. The reception for the show, last Friday, was packed, and many in attendance were not familiar faces, Niboli said.

For art’s sake, it would be interesting to see some more daring dioramas. Could someone use a propane torch on some of the little marshmallow animals for a diorama titled The Disfigurement of Consumerism ? On second thought, weighing Peeps down with too much meaning might run counter to the spirit of the enterprise, in which the cuteness of the candy generates its own meaning by playing against mundane events.

The Peeps dioramas will be on view through Saturday.

Of Note

Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art hosts “Evolving Perspectives: Highlights from the African Art Collection at the Hood Museum of Art; and “Word and Image in Contemporary Art,” which was curated in collaboration with 22 studio art majors. Opening April 6: “The Women of Shin Hanga: The Judith and Joseph Barker Collection of Japanese Prints.”

∎ Scott Miller and Lindsay McClure have been developing a Nicaragua-Vermont film exchange and are raising money for a second phase of the project, a return to El Transito, Nicaragua to teach filmmaking classes. Saturday night, they will screen some of the fruits of their labor at a fundraiser at Main Street Museum in White River Junction. The event starts with a Central American meal prepared by Ana Diaz and Gusanoz at 5:30, films start at 7, and salsa and merengue dancing, including lessons, follow at 9. The whole shebang costs $25, or just $15 for the films and dancing alone.

∎ Zirka Filipczak, an art history professor at Williams College, will give a talk Wednesday evening at 7 in Norwich Congregational Church titled “Rembrandt: Emotion Through Pose and Gesture.” The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesday series of lectures around the state.

∎ ArtisTree Gallery in Woodstock has issued a call to artists for “Unbound,” a yearly exhibition that encourages artists to reimagine 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.

Openings and Receptions

ArtisTree Gallery in Woodstock opens “MUD (season): Viridian and Vermillion,” a group show that reflects on the season of the show’s unwieldy title, with a reception tomorrow evening, 6 to 8.

∎ Colby-Sawyer College in New London opens its annual Gladys Greenbaum Meyers Juried Student Art Exhibition tomorrow evening with a reception from 5 to 7 in the Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery.

∎ Ledyard Gallery in Hanover’s Howe Library opens “Capturing Nature,” work by Susan Bridge and Gail Barton, with a reception Saturday afternoon, 2 to 4.

∎ Dartmouth College’s Studio Art Exhibtion Program opens “no kill shelter,” art by Jodie Mack, a professor of film and media studies, with a reception Tuesday at 5:30.

∎ “A Certain Slant,” paintings by Celia Reisman, who lives part of the year in Strafford, opens Wednesday at Philadelphia’s Gross McCleaf Gallery.

Last Chance

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

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

Ongoing

Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction exhibits work by its non-member faculty, a roster of artists from as far away as Boston who teach workshops at the studio. In addition, two members of Two Rivers, Rachel Gross and Sheri Tomek, have work on display at McGowan Fine Art in Concord.

∎ 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.

∎ 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.

∎ 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. Through April 6.

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

∎ 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.

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

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Maybe they slowly grew on me. Or maybe it was the sheer sugar rush — from testing close to 75 dozen chicks — but I’ll admit it. I’ve grown fond of Peeps. For most of us, an Easter basket simply isn’t complete without a box of Peeps. The colorful marshmallow candy brand is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and …