Studio Place Arts Invites Artists, and Viewers, to ‘Head for the Hills’ | Visual Art | Seven Days


click to enlarge "Gluttony" by Kristine Chartrand - COURTESY OF STUDIO PLACE ARTS
  • Courtesy Of Studio Place Arts
  • “Gluttony” by Kristine Chartrand

Like bears, woodchucks and chipmunks, many human residents tend to hibernate this time of year. But Sue Higby, executive director of Studio Place Arts in Barre, hopes to lure people from their woodstove-heated nests to visit “Head for the Hills.” The exhibition’s theme takes inspiration from the local landscape and its wildlife, real and imagined.

“We wanted to have a show that people would enjoy during the deepest, darkest months of the winter,” Higby said during a gallery visit, speaking over a recording of birdsong, chirping frogs and babbling brook.

Some 30 artists present works in a broad range of mediums. The eclectic pieces are arranged around SPA’s first-floor gallery to invoke different moods and ideas.

One corner represents human manipulation of nature, according to Higby. Kristine Chartrand’s ink work “The Puppeteer” features a menacing human hand pulling tree branches with strings. In the East Calais artist’s “Gluttony,” a river filled with debris and people flows into a giant, monstrous person’s mouth.

Parked on adjacent pedestals are tragicomic sculptures by Burlington ceramic artist Jennifer McCandless. The beaver, bear and pigeon in her “Scenes From the Apocalypse: Zombie Road Kill” series have suffered tire-track injuries yet look perversely cheerful.

click to enlarge "Forest Passages" by Craig Wiltse - COURTESY OF ATHENA TASIOPOULOS
  • Courtesy Of Athena Tasiopoulos
  • “Forest Passages” by Craig Wiltse

Craig Wiltse’s wall-hung “Forest Passages,” a 36-inch-square 3D collage, glows softly across the room. Behind its plexiglass surface, a green internal light illuminates actual fern leaves and other foliage. Nearby, the Websterville artist’s oil painting “Walking Through the Undergrowth” features rainforest-lush foliage.

"Fern Horn Deer" by Kristin Richland - COURTESY OF STUDIO PLACE ARTS
  • Courtesy Of Studio Place Arts
  • “Fern Horn Deer” by Kristin Richland

Several delicate sumi ink and gouache drawings by Underhill artist Kristin Richland fantastically merge fauna and flora. In “Fern Horn Deer,” the bewitching animal has ferns in place of antlers; flowers bud from the neck of a ram-like beast in “Elder in the Woods.”

In contrast, Wolcott artist Gabriel Tempesta’s two stunningly realistic oil paintings could be mistaken for photographs. “Fell Swoop” features an owl about to swoop up a bunny; “Running Down a Dream” captures a bobcat chasing a pheasant.

click to enlarge "Flotilla" by Adelaide Murphy Tyrol - PAMELA POLSTON
  • Pamela Polston
  • “Flotilla” by Adelaide Murphy Tyrol

Plainfield artist Adelaide Murphy Tyrol, a longtime botanical and natural history illustrator, used sumi ink to depict other members of the food chain. “Predator,” a crow with talons out, hangs above “Prey,” a wide-eyed mouse. Tyrol used deep, dark acrylic hues to paint a nighttime scene in “Flotilla” — a word typically used to describe a fleet of ships. In this case, it’s a gathering of magical lights that resemble both jellyfish and paper lanterns as they rise from a midnight-blue body of water into the cloud-darkened sky.

Higby observed that “Head for the Hills” could be interpreted as running toward or running away. Regardless, the contributions to this exhibition make clear that Vermont artists are not lying dormant.


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