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Art Notes: Central Vermont Gallery Examines ‘Dartmouth Influence’

  • "Salvation Mountain," a photograph by Virginia Beahan, is among the works on view in "Dartmouth Influence," an exhibition at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt. (Courtesy BigTown Gallery)

  • "Silo(e)scapes," an installation of photographs by Zenovia Toloudi, is among the works on view at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt., which is exhibiting the work of 11 artists, all women, with ties to Dartmouth College. (Courtesy BigTown Gallery)

  • "Mutate," a 2018 drawing by Kari Cholnoky, is on view at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt. (Courtesy BigTown Gallery)



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, May 24, 2018

The current exhibition at Rochester, Vt.’s BigTown Gallery wasn’t meant to serve as a testament to the strong female presence in Dartmouth College’s Studio Art Department. It just kind of happened, said Anni Mackay, the gallery’s director and curator.

Mackay, who has worked with many Dartmouth artists on an individual basis over the years, wanted to showcase the diverse mediums, movements and styles the art department has embodied over the past three decades, while also celebrating the department’s imprint on the arts scene in the Upper Valley and beyond.

She noted that the Dartmouth’s “increased commitment to art” includes investing in teaching and community engagement — through such projects as the newish Black Family Visual Arts Center and the current renovations to the Hood Museum of Art — as well as a growing number of “people of significant heft, who are really pulling their weight in art,” she said.

Of these artists of heft whom Mackay was considering for the show, nearly all were women.

“So I decided just to go with it,” she said at the gallery last week.

The show, “Dartmouth Influence,” features work by 11 women from the Studio Art Department, including faculty, adjuncts, alumni and the current visiting artist.

The work on view runs the gamut from the more traditional, such as Louise Hamlin’s conceptually simple, visually lovely painting Woods and Stream III, to more experimental pieces, such as the odd and evocative Long, a striking sort of mane of black rubber hose, by Stina Köhnke.

While not organized around any explicit themes, there are a few recurring concerns. Many of the pieces, for example, are preoccupied with the idea of world-building, and draw attention to (while not necessarily criticizing) the artifice of their construction.

In Zenovia Toloudi’s compelling series of photographs, “Silo(e)scapes,” the artist has constructed a strange and dreamlike world, one populated with carefully staged Lego-people and scaffolded by transparent “silos” that each store a hardy natural food source: seeds, nuts, legumes, lentils, grains. Certain silos seem to be more well-stocked than others: Some are filled to the top of the frame, while others seem to be running critically low.

Because the “humans” are so little and plastic, and because the silos’ harvested contents come off as larger-than-life, the photographs distort our sense of scale in a way that is both playful and destabilizing.

Meanwhile, Virginia Beahan’s photograph of a synthetic tree in Salvation Mountain (Interior) portrays a sliver of another world that is explicitly constructed, even fantastical, but also “real” in the sense that it physically exists.

The “mountain” in question is manmade by Leonard Knight, a Vermont native who, having felt he found God, poured thousands of gallons of paint into an immersive, otherworldly installation in California’s Colorado Desert.

It’s become a kind of “Neverland … a pilgrimage site,” Mackay said. Knight was not an artist by trade, just a man with an obsessive vision, and so photographing the strange, clumsy beauty of his monument is, as Mackay said, “a statement about outsider art, which has an increasingly strong footing in the discussion of what art is.”

It also raises the question: When a creative endeavor from the margins of society enters into the fold of pop culture — Salvation Mountain appeared, for example, in a Kesha music video last year — how does this color the way we might categorize it or ascribe it value?

But “Dartmouth Influence” also depicts a world that has not been reconfigured into commentary or a reflection of belief, or at least not visibly so: Hamlin’s luminous Woods and Stream III, for example, whose trees resemble Knight’s in basic shape only; and Seed Pod, a laser-cut paper drawing by Karolina Kawiaka whose intricate vectors convey an interest in the geometry — the construction — of what a plant produces, rather than, as in “Silo(e)scapes,” the implications of its market value.

Also notable are Jennifer Caine’s layered abstract oil paintings; the billowing celestial blanket of Hanna Olivia Nelson’s pigment print Backward in Sleep; Christina Seely’s photographic “Lux” series, which considers what distance, contrast and light can do to our perception of cities; the explosive, psychedelic drawings of Kari Cholnoky; and Esme Thompson’s whimsical Mimsy, whose acrylic-painted metal panels call to mind what one might see under a microscope, but more delightfully cartoonish.

“There’s a very diverse portfolio of work, which is always a healthy thing to see,” Mackay said.

And, though the artworks themselves may stand alone, they are also more broadly unified in being part of Dartmouth’s — and the women artists of Dartmouth’s — expansive reach.

BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt. exhibits work by 11 women from Dartmouth College’s Studio Art Department in “Dartmouth Influence” through June 30.

Also on view is “Bearing Witness,” lithographs by Brookfield, Vt., artist Edward Koren that explore themes of archeology and extinction. Through June 26.

Openings and Receptions

Towle Hill Studio, at 28 Center Road in Corinth, will hold a reception Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. for “Post Apocalypse for 3/4 Empire,” a show of woodcut banners by Bread and Puppet Theater founder Peter Schumann. The gallery is open only on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. Schumann’s show is on view through June 3.

Call for Art

In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Sunapee’s town charter, the Sunapee Historical Society and Sunapee Heritage Alliance are calling for art submissions for a show planned in mid-August at the Livery in Sunapee Harbor, on the theme of “Scenes of Sunapee Through the Years.” Artists of all levels are invited to submit paintings, drawings, pastels, prints, collages and sculptures depicting some aspect of Sunapee. The call is also open to those with historical artwork of Sunapee, so as to juxtapose past and present. The application deadline is July 20.

The Randolph-based Clara Martin Center is seeking submissions for an art and poetry show on the theme of “Abundance: Celebrating Creativity in Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery.” For applications and instructions on how to submit, go to claramartin.org/art-show. The deadline is July 31. The exhibit will open Sept. 10 at the Chandler Gallery, in Randolph.

The Center for the Arts invites artists from central New Hampshire and Vermont to submit up to four works to its “Naturally New England” art exhibit. The entry deadline is June 22, and the exhibit will show July 27-30 at The Livery in Sunapee Harbor. For submission guidelines and instructions, go to centerfortheartsnh.org.

Of Note

The documentary Cezanne: Portraits of a Life screens in Hanover, at the Black Family Visual Arts Center’s Loew Auditorium, Sunday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $15. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the box office at 603-646-2422.

A flea and art market in East Corinth on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 640 Village Road, will benefit the East Corinth Congregational Church.

Ongoing

AVA Gallery and Art Center, Lebanon. “A Change of Horse,” sculptures and drawings by the part-time Vermont artist Alysa Bennett; “Life Lessons,” portraits by the West Lebanon painter John Kenyon; “Orbiter,” photographs by Nicholas Gaffney, of Lebanon; and “Re-Purposed,” an installation by Norwich artist Jay Mead, are on view through Friday.

Aidron Duckworth Art Museum, Meriden. “In Rhythm,” paintings and drawings by Bunny Harvey, shows through June 3. “Exhibition XXXI: Forms Hidden, Forms Revealed,” an exhibition curated from three series of Duckworth’s body of work, runs through July 22.

Black Family Visual Arts Center, Hanover. Dartmouth College seniors majoring in studio art show work in the Nearburg Gallery through June 17.

Center for The Arts, New London. Work is shown in three micro-galleries: at New London Inn, showing paintings by Vicki Koron, of Sunapee; at Bar Harbor Bank and Trust, featuring work by Newport, N.H. oil painter Ludmila Gayvoronsky; and at Whipple Hall Gallery, which displays the work of Proctor Academy students.

Chelsea Public Library. “Common Objects and Uncommon Places,” a show of acrylic paintings by the Chelsea artist, and founder of the Chelsea Art Collective, Carrie Caouette-De Lallo, shows through June.

Chew & Co. Design, Hanover. Meg McLean, of Lyme, shows oil paintings and charcoal drawings through mid-June.

Converse Free Library, Lyme. Kathy Swift, of Lyme, shows “Japanese Ink Paintings on Paper” through June 30. Ten percent of sales will go to Friends of Lyme Library.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon. The D-H Arts Program’s spring exhibit features work by two Upper Valley oil painters, Ludmila Gayvoronsky of Newport, N.H., and Rae Newell of Bridgewater Corners. The other artists are watercolorist Diane Bell of Weston, Vt.; Evelien Bachrach of Hancock, N.H., who works in multiple mediums; acrylics painter Laura Ewing of Cambridge, Mass.; and photographer Ira Gavrin of Marlborough, N.H.

Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hanover. Dartmouth College seniors majoring in studio art show work in the Jaffe-Friede and Strauss galleries through June 17.

Kilton Public Library, West Lebanon. Artwork by Mount Lebanon Elementary School students will be shown through May.

Library Arts Center, Newport, N.H. The Selections Exhibit 2018 shows work by the seven winners of the Library Arts Center’s annual juried regional exhibit: Shari Boraz, Cyn Cooper, Betsy Derrick, Stacy Friedman, Elizabeth R. Moore, Gail Smuda and John Teti. The juror was Doris Nelson, former director of the Library Arts Center. Through June 14.

Long River Gallery, White River Junction. Work by Hartland photographer John Lehet shows through May 31.

New London Hospital. The spring art exhibition features Garrett Evans, a South Sutton, N.H.-based photographer; Bow, N.H., photographer Charles S. “Whitey” Joslin, Jr.; and Enfield painter Penny Koburger.

Norwich Public Library. “Miss Match — Pixels to Paint: Photos Re-Imagined,” a collaborative exhibition between Norwich artists Becky Cook and NatEliBoze, shows through June 30.

Osher at Dartmouth, Hanover. Norwich painter Jo Tate shows work through June 28.

Philip Read Memorial Library, Plainfield. “Marking Moments,” a show of still lifes, landscapes, “memoryscapes” and conceptual work by Plainfield painter M.J. Morse. A reception time and date is not yet determined.

Roth Center for Jewish Life, Hanover. In “Commentary: Fiber Art by Shari Boraz,” the Hanover artist uses hand embroidery to remark on such themes as feminism, nature and symbology. Through July 8.

Scavenger Gallery, White River Junction. Owner Stacy Hopkins shows recent work in “Rebirth,” made during her recent residency at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vt.

Steven Thomas, Inc. Fine Arts & Antiques, White River Junction. Work by Upper Valley “vintage” artists, such as Alice Standish Buell (1892-1964), Arthur B. Wilder (1857-1949) and Ilse Bischoff (1901-1990) is on view, along with other antiques and collectibles.

Tunbridge Public Library . “Reverence,” a show of paintings by Randolph artist Jan Fowler, shows through June 28.

Two Rivers Printmaking Studio, White River Junction. “Momenta IV,” a juried exhibition of prints created by artists from New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts in the past 12 months, shows through May 31. James Stroud, noted printmaker and founder of Center Street Studios in Cambridge, Mass., was juror.

White River Gallery, South Royalton. Betsey Garand of Hancock, N.H. shows a variety of printmaking techniques in “Petroglyphs, Flora and Frenzied Encounters: The Hand-Pulled Prints of Betsey Garand.” Through June 15.

Woodstock Union High School and Middle School. Today is the last day to see the student art exhibit, which is on view from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Zollikofer Gallery, White River Junction. “Birds of the Bayous,” an exhibit of watercolors by Norwich resident Judith Miller, shows alongside “Lichen,” photography by her son Scott McClure Miller. Through June 30.

EmmaJean Holley can be reached at ejholley@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.