Art Notes: Peter Shvetsov’s Paintings Take a Dark View of the Landscape

  • "Liz's Pond," a 2017 oil painting by Peter Shvetsov, is among the works on view in a trio of shows of his paintings in South Royalton. (Courtesy Peter Shvetsov)

  • Peter Shvetsov, a Russian artist who has been spending summers in South Royalton, Vt., for the past 20 years, speaks about his work on display at the South Royalton Market on July 3, 2018. He has three shows running simultaneously in town -- the South Royalton Market, Worthy Burger and the town library. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Artist Peter Shvetsov, who splits his time between Russia and South Royalton, Vt., is showing his landscape paintings at the South Royalton Market and the town library. At the same time, he's showing paintings of the offerings from Worthy Burger's menu at the restaurant. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • "Fishwich, Grilled Trout, Lettuce, Red Onion, Pear Slaw," a 2018 oil painting by Peter Shvetsov. (Courtesy Peter Shvetsov)

  • In "Sprites To Live By," a solo show by Tunbridge, Vt., artist Marion Lent, 30 handmade sprites, with felted bodies and hand-molded features, are suspended from the ceiling of Tunbridge Public Library. The show is on view through Aug. 18. (Myra Hudson photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Upper Valley often gives rise to landscape paintings that express a kind of optimism — a sweetly rendered awe at the natural world in all its sun-drenched splendor, and so forth. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Russian-born artist Peter Shvetsov, who has three exhibitions opening on Saturday at venues he considers quintessential South Royalton sites, appreciates a scenic vista as much as anyone. That’s part of what has brought the native of Saint Petersburg, Russia (though when he was born, the city was known as Leningrad) back to the Upper Valley every summer for the past two decades, and back to the old farmhouse on Happy Hollow Road, where his wife summered as a girl.

“It is a very beautiful place,” he acknowledged. “I feel a very strong connection to it.” But artistically, he’s more interested in the subliminal than in the sublime.

“The trick is hid behind the subject matter … What are the strange, mysterious games inside (a painting)?” he said in an interview at South Royalton Market on Monday, where one of his exhibitions — dark, moody oil paintings of various outdoor Vermont scenes just after dusk, but before the light disappears completely — is on view.

“It’s a very specific, very sure moment that’s really fascinating to me,” he said. “The moment of the dusk … the 15 or 20 minutes before the color disappears and everything becomes gray and black.” The paintings at South Royalton Market are situated at various points in that short and swiftly changing window.

The effect is not one of pessimism, per se, though it does acknowledge and honor the brevity of light, which is tied to the brevity of all living things. Rather, it suggests a viewpoint that appreciates what light can do, if just for a short while: Even the encroaching, inevitable darkness is tinged with gold.

Though Shvetsov works in many mediums, lately he’s been gravitating toward paintings, specifically landscape paintings, precisely because they are not always considered as cutting-edge or interesting as other forms, he said.

“What genre could be the least wanted?” he asked aloud, and answered his own question: “Paintings. And perhaps landscape paintings most of all … They’re not taken as contemporary. And so because it is a risky subject, I try to play with it. What can I do with it?” Which is to say, what might hide in a particular sliver of time?

Shvetsov plans on making the market the second of his three stops during the tour he’ll lead on Saturday afternoon, as part of his exhibitions’ opening. The tour will start at 2 p.m. at Royalton Memorial Library, where Shvetsov will show a series of large etchings, and will finish at the Worthy Burger, where his paintings of hamburgers and truffle fries draw on a similarly moody palette, around 4. Will there be drinks afterward? The opportunity will be there.

In examining a digital file of one of his Worthy Burger paintings, which he created as a site-specific installation for the restaurant he has come to love, I was reminded of a very different interpretation of food-inspired visual art, specifically one that focused on sweets, at the Shelburne Museum. That exhibition closed in February, but the popping colors, almost violently bright and heavy-handed in their commentary on Americans’ obsession with food, left a long and artificial aftertaste.

Shvetsov depicts a subtler side of the same coin, one that is at once meaty (literally) and ethereal. Meant to remind one of a “planet … flying in space,” the otherworldly smudge of lettuce, the ghost of an onion, offer a counterpoint to the dessert-themed exhibit: A hamburger is not simply a product to be marketed and sold, but is also — when made and consumed with the proper attention and care — a world unto itself.

With their strong sense of place and keen attention to time, Shvetsov’s paintings of a post-twilight Vermont — and the hamburgers that, for him, help make it home — contain no empty calories.

Peter Shvetsov’s three exhibitions in South Royalton open simultaneously on Saturday afternoon, with an artist-led tour starting at Royalton Memorial Library at 2 p.m. The tour will also stop at South Royalton Market and Worthy Burger, and will last until around 4.

Openings and Receptions

“Streams of Light,” a show of paintings by Chelsea artist Susan G. Scott, opens Monday at White River Gallery at South Royalton’s BALE Commons, with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Through Aug. 4.

Converse Free Library in Lyme will hold an opening reception, Wednesday night from 5:30 to 7, for “Paintings: Places Near and Far” by Thetford artist Jean Gerber. Through Sept. 29.

First Friday In White River Junction

Long River Gallery and Gifts will host a product tasting with its new vendor, Dancing Crane Chocolates. The fig- and cinnamon-sweetened chocolates are made by part-time Bradford, Vt., resident Diana Duhaime, with many ingredients coming from her other home in Costa Rica. The tasting starts at 6 p.m. and will last until 8, or while samples last. Hartland musician Betsy Stewart will play guitar and vocals.

Piermont artist Stephanie Gordon’s show of encaustic (wax) paintings continues through August.

Zollikofer Gallery, at the Hotel Coolidge, opens a show of abstract oil paintings and mixed-media on black-walnut-stained paper by Dian Parker, with an opening reception Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. Parker is the curator and director of South Royalton’s White River Gallery.

Carol Lippman’s show at Two Rivers Printmaking Studio continues through the month of July, with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Lippman is a part-time resident of West Newbury, Vt.

At the Newberry Pop-Up Market, local vendors will sell artwork, clothing, jewelry and other handmade items from 5 to 8 p.m.

Of Note

Center for the Arts, in New London, will host Arts on the Green, a juried fine arts and crafts show, on the town green Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Aidron Duckworth Art Museum,Meriden. “Exhibition XXXI: Forms Hidden, Forms Revealed,” curated from three series of Duckworth’s work, and “Strata Series,” an exhibition of new prints by Sheri Hancock-Tomek, continue through July 22. Column II, an outdoor sculpture by artist and musician John McKenna, is on view through Oct. 22. McKenna grew up in Norwich and lives in Barrington, R.I. Parliament of the Souls, an outdoor sculptural installation by the Vershire artist Sande French-Stockwell, shows through Oct. 28.

AVA Gallery and Art Center, Lebanon. “Hiding in Plain Sight,” watercolors by Tom Leytham, of Montpelier; “Roads Taken,” paintings by Boston-based artist Pennie Brantley; and Scott Gordon, of Norwich, shows artwork made from repurposed steel in “Unintended Objects.” All three shows continue through Friday.

BigTown Gallery, Rochester, Vt. “Light Field,” an exhibit of paintings by the upstate New York-based artist Alison Weld, is on view through July 21.

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. “Velvet Brown Disease,” horse-themed paintings by Chelsea artist Linda Ducharme, are on view through August. A reception is planned for July 19 at 6 p.m.

Chew & Co. Design, Hanover. The closing date for an art show by recent Dartmouth graduates has been extended to mid-August.

Cider Hill Gallery, Windsor. “Garden Visions,” a show of flower portraits and landscape paintings in egg tempera and gold leaf by the Cider Hill co-owner Gary Milek, continues through Sept. 16.

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.

Gifford Gallery, Randolph. Tina Valentinetti, of Moretown, Vt., shows wildlife and landscape photographs at the Gifford Medical Center gallery through Wednesday.

Hood Downtown, Hanover. “The Firmament,” an exhibit of drawings by Toyin Ojih Odutola that explores the conceptualization of race, is on view through Sept. 2.

Howe Library, Hanover. “O This Verdant Valley,” an exhibit by the Upper Valley’s en plein air Odanaksis Art Group, is in the Ledyard Gallery through Aug. 1.

Jaffe-Friede Gallery,Hanover. “Its Honor Is Hereby Pledged: Broken Treaty Quilts,” an exhibit of quilts by Gina Adams, the new artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College’s Studio Art Department, continues through July 22.

Kilton Library, West Lebanon. Grantham artist Elizabeth R. Moore exhibits mixed-media paintings in the library’s gallery space through Oct. 9.

New London Hospital. The latest rotating 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. Through Aug. 31.

Norwich Public Library. Norwich resident Chad Finer exhibits his show “Back to Africa: A photographic return to Peace Corps Sierra Leone, 1968-70,” through Aug. 31.

Philip Read Memorial Library, Plainfield. “Marking the Moments,” an exhibit of oil paintings by Plainfield artist M.J. Morse, continues through Aug. 15.

Roth Center for Jewish Life, Hanover. In “Commentary: Fiber Art by Shari Boraz,” the Hanover artist’s hand embroidery remarks on such themes as feminism, nature and symbology. Through Sunday.

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish. “The Etcher’s Journey: A Retrospective of Prints by Charles A. Platt and Stephen Parrish” features the work of two Cornish Colony artists, in the Picture Gallery through July.

“Natural Forces: Three Sculptors’ Visions,” featuring work by Fabienne Lasserre, Clive Moloney and Rosalyn Driscoll, is scattered around the site through Oct. 31.

Scavenger Gallery, White River Junction. In “Rebirth,” owner Stacy Hopkins shows recent mixed-media assemblages and prints, as well as jewelry, her primary medium.

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.

Tunbridge Public Library. “Sprites To Live By,” a show of felted handmade figures by Tunbridge artist Marion Lent, is on view through Aug. 18.

EmmaJean Holley can be reached at ejholley@vnews.com or 603-727-3216. Visual art news can also be sent to artnotes@vnews.com.