Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Painted River

     "Glad I'm not an artist."

     I was at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester. There to view art, I found myself looking out the window at the lower slopes of Mt. Equinox instead. It was a gray, rainy day. Not exactly the crisp greens and blues typically seen in so many landscape paintings of New England. 

     Yet I was mesmerized by the scene before me. Misty fog wafting up out of the forest to mingle with lowering clouds. A lone White Pine towering above the surrounding canopy. The Art Center buildings adding scale and contrast. Tough for an artist to match the atmospheric mood Mother Nature had created.

     Two exhibits were showing on the day of my visit. Alberto Rey: Cultural Landscapes focused on the Battenkill River and the artist's interest in biological regionalism. Each large scale painting was accompanied by a quick sketch done at the site, a photo and a few notes. I found the approach quite effective, an interesting window into the artist's creative process. Less pleasing was a video installation of Rey painting in his studio. This consisted of rapid time lapse stills of a painting in the process of forming. It made me dizzy watching it.

Rey painting
(web image)

     Rey is incredibly prolific and an adjoining gallery showcased some of his other series including works focused on his native Cuba, on icebergs, on extinct species and on other rivers. I'ld like to recommend you see the exhibit but unfortunately it closed last Sunday, June 25. The best I can offer are a couple of links: here you can view the Battenkill paintings and here is Rey's website.

Alberto Rey
(web image)

     Up until July 16 is the Spring/Summer 2023 Members Exhibition. Hundreds of creations in a wide variety of mediums almost overwhelm. The artists come from all over New England and New York and a lot of familiar names from Washington County are here. I noted J. Metzger's assemblages because I always enjoy driving by his funky place in Battenville, where the very yard is an assemblage. Two moody landscape photos by Alex Baker also made an impression. If you go I'ld like to hear what sticks with you.

Jack Metzger

     Note that an upcoming show is a joint collaboration with the Bennington Museum. For the Love of Vermont is drawn from the Lyman Orton collection and opens at the SVAC on July 22. The image accompanying the exhibition announcement is a painting by Rockwell Kent. He used both the local Taconics and the Adirondacks as subject matter (as well as many other places) and you can see a big cross section of his work at SUNY Plattsburg. I hope to have more on that in the future.

Rockwell Kent

     Also at SVAC you might want to walk the Botany Trail or hike on the Equinox Preservation Trust trails that connect to the Arts Center. There are numerous performances scheduled in the Arkell Pavilion and an onsite restaurant called the curATE cafe with inside and patio dining. The complex is accessed by a long winding drive thru a sculpture park complete with flocks of wild turkeys on the day we were there. To get the whole picture visit their website here. 



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