Art Notes: ‘Cartoon College’ To Be Screened In WRJ

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Initially, Josh Melrod and Tara Wray thought their documentary film about the Center for Cartoon Studies would be a short, simple affair.

They moved to Vermont from New York in 2007 with an eye toward finishing the film in 18 months. They spent a year shooting, Melrod said, then nine months to make a rough cut of the movie, titled Cartoon College.

“We realized that it just wasn’t the movie we’d hoped to make,” he said. “We basically decided to shoot for another year.”

Since its completion in March, Cartoon College has been making the rounds of film festivals and comics conventions, where it has been well received. It has been screened everywhere from Newport Beach, Calif., where it premiered, to Woods Hole, Mass.

The film will have its first local screening tomorrow night at 8 at the Main Street Museum. Tickets are $5.

The screening will take place in the space previously occupied by the cartoon school’s Schultz Library, which was a location during filming, Melrod said.

“This seems like just the best possible place,” he said.

Melrod and Wray began Cartoon College as producer and director, respectively, and have since switched roles. Much of the initial plan for the film has changed, too.

Wray, who previously directed the documentary Manhattan, Kansas, about her upbringing in the town of the title, started by following three students who had enrolled at the Center for Cartoon Studies. The school was then still just a couple of years old, having graduated its first class in May 2007.

Based in the former Colodny’s Surprise Department Store, CCS is the lone school of its kind, a graduate art school focused solely on comics, particularly long-form narratives. In addition to co-founder James Sturm, the faculty includes such comics luminaries as Alison Bechdel, Steve Bissette, Jason Lutes and R. Sikoryak.

The first rough cut of the film ended on a down note, as two of the students the filmmakers followed left school early. But when filming resumed, the two students had come back to school, Melrod said. The filmmakers also took the extra time as an opportunity to interview visiting cartoonists, including some of the most prominent names in the field.

“Everything sort of fell into place in terms of just our characters and getting what we needed,” he said.

In the end, the final subject of the film is the creative process, “the struggle to make art in any field,” Melrod said. In interviews with the filmmakers, such celebrated cartoonists as Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman and Lynda Barry reported facing the same issues of uncertainty as the aspiring comics artists enrolled at CCS.

“There are these challenges that are sort of inherent,” Melrod said. The famous cartoonists said that they had to do their work out of love and perseverance, and hope that it would allow them to earn a living.

The universality of that experience is the theme the filmmakers hope will bring Cartoon College to a wider audience. Melrod plans to keep bringing the film to festivals, conventions and art schools until spring, when it will have a DVD and video-on-demand release, and perhaps a small theatrical release to create publicity.

As much as their film changed during production, the biggest changes took place in the filmmakers’ lives. Since starting filming, “we got married and bought a house and

had twins,” Melrod said.

Melrod and Wray will be at the screening tomorrow night for a question-and-answer session after the film.

∎ Also on Friday, at quarter past noon, the Main Street Museum will host a free tour of Dartmouth’s Special Collections Library, courtesy of librarian Jay Satterfield. The theme of this year’s tour is “Wood,” and will include books with wooden covers, a splinter of the goalpost from the 1935 Dartmouth-Yale game (Dartmouth’s first victory over the Elis) and other fibrous objects fit to intrigue the museum’s devotees. The public is free to join them at the Rauner Library.

∎ Colby-Sawyer College in New London opens an exhibition of work by its fine arts faculty this evening from 5 to 7 in the college’s Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery. The show features work by Loretta S.W. Barnett, Debbie Campbell, Lucy Mink-Covello, Nicholas Gaffney, Brandy Gibbs-Riley, David Ernster, Jon Keenan, Michael Lovell, Mary Mead, Hilary Walrod and Bert Yarborough.thru dec 14

∎ Dartmouth biochemistry professor Bernard Trumpower has been photographing the college’s Brout Orchids, a collection of 1,000 orchids donated to Dartmouth by alum Alan P. Brout. An exhibition of Trumpower’s photographs goes on display Saturday in Ledyard Gallery at Hanover’s Howe Library. A reception is planned for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Trumpower, an amateur photographer, aims to photograph all of the Brout Orchids and is about halfway done, having amassed 7,000 images of 500 flowers. The flowers themselves are also available for public viewing, on the fourth floor of the Life Sciences Complex on the north campus, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

∎ Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has installed four new works by fabric artist Joan Morris, who uses a proprietary printing process to place thin layers of precious metals onto dyed silk. The work was supported by funding from the Vermont Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Puffin Foundation, and will be on view through Jan. 21. The four new pieces hang in the niches at the south end of the hospital’s East Mall.

Of Note

Chandler Gallery in Randolph is calling for artists, ages 20 to 30, for a show opening Jan. 20. It’s open to Vermont artists in all media. Submissions must be received by midnight Dec. 5. Cartoonist James Sturm and printmaker Rachel Gross of White River Junction will judge the submissions. For more information contact Janet Cathey at 802-728-4375 or janetensia@gmail.com.

Openings And Receptions

First Friday in White River Junction includes the opening of an exhibition of prints by Lynne Barton at Two Rivers Printmaking Studio.

∎ Also in the Tip Top Media Arts Building, Georgina Forbes, Rebecca Gottesman and Kathy Parsonnet open their studios. The late Virginia Webb’s expressionist landscapes and portraits will be sold at very affordable prices to benefit charities she supported.

∎ “Autumn in the Upper Valley,” work by members of the White River Junction chapter of the Vermont Watercolor Society, is on display in the Hotel Coolidge’s Zollikofer Gallery. A reception is planned for Friday evening, 5 to 7, and the show is on view through Nov. 14.thru nov14

Last Chance

“Anne Schaller: Paintings 2012,” a show by Northfield, Vt., artist Anne Schaller, is on display at Tunbridge Public Library through tomorrowNov. 2.

∎ Windsor’s Nuance Gallery is exhibiting work by the early 20th-century artist Sidney Delavante through Saturday.thru nov 3

∎ The student gallery in Dartmouth’s new Black Family Visual Arts Center exhibits paintings by Davey Barnwell, Ellie Buckingham, Luca Molnar and Lucy Morris through Tuesday.


The Hood Museum of Art exhibits “Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art,” which offers a survey of Australian Aboriginal work since the 1960s, and “Stacey Steers: Night Hunter House,” a recent Hood acquisition by the Denver multimedia artist.

∎ ArtisTree Gallery in Woodstock hosts “Calvinist Gothic,” paintings of distressed infrastructure by Charlie Hunter, a Weathersfield Center native, and photographs of “rural urban” Vermont by Clair Dunn, of Swanton, Vt. The show runs through Nov. 17.

∎ “My Favorite Book,” photographs by John Douglas of Howe

Library patrons with their favorite books, is on display in Dartmouth’s Baker-Berry Library Room 183. thru nov 27

∎ AVA Gallery and Art Center hosts three exhibitions that explore the fiber arts: “Moon Ascending: Japanese Rozome Batik,” by Kingston, N.H., artist Kiranada Sterling Benjamin, “The Art of Tea II,” which features art made from used tea bags by Woodstock artist Barbara Bartlett, and “Affinity,” which comprises narrative textile works by Cyndy Barbone, Deborah Frazee Carlson, Fuyuko Matsubara and Bhakti Ziek.

The shows remain on view through Nov. 16. The “Affinity” artists will talk about their work todayNov. 1 and Bartlett will give a gallery talk on Nov. 15, both at 5:30 p.m.

∎ Kimball Union Academy in Meriden hosts a “Bicentennial Art Exhibit,” featuring work by faculty members Ursula Fries-Herfort, Julie Haskell, Jim Schubert and David Stern, in the school’s Taylor Gallery.

∎ BigTown Gallery in Rochester exhibits “New Work,” by Paul Bowen, Joan Kahn, Celia Reisman and Fulvio Testa, through Nov. 18.thru nov 18

∎ The Main Street Museum exhibits “Adam Blue’s AstroExplorer” through Nov. 19, and “Green Mountain Graveyards,” photographs by Scott Baer and Dan Barlow, through December.

∎ The “Invitational Dartmouth Alumni Exhibition,” a show devoted to work by 14 Dartmouth graduates, is on display in the Top of the Hop and in the new Black Family Visual Arts Center. Thru Dec. 1

∎ “Healing With Art,” an exhibition that seeks to aid the healing process for cancer patients, is among the exhibitions on view at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Fall shows include mosaics by Susan Whelihan, paintings by Richard Widhu, photographs by Stuart DuBoff, paintings by Shelli DuBoff, drawings by Kathleen Swift, mixed media by Karen Kamenetzky and work from the Global Children’s Art Program.

∎ Gifford Medical Center in Randolph is exhibiting quilted landscapes by Northfield, Vt., fiber artist Pamela Druhen.thru dec. 5

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.


This story has been amended to correct an earlier error. The following correction ran in the Saturday, Nov. 3 edition of the Valley News:

An opening reception at the Howe Library in Hanover for Bernard Trumpower’s exhibit of photographs of orchids will be held tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m. An item in and photograph caption in Thursday’s Art Notes column gave the incorrect day.