Then & Now — on view through September 2, 2019

by Mickey Myers, reprinted with permission from American Art Review

Inviting a group of artists to paint en plein air at the same locations in Vermont as landscape artists of the previous century has its plot twists. The initial invitation, issued by Bryan Memorial Gallery over a year prior, opened the door to a network of nuance and imagination. The resulting exhibit, Then and Now, evokes as many points of view as there are participating artists in the project. What the paintings tell us about the iconic Vermont landscape, the influence of the masters and the independence of the twenty-first century is a legend in the making.

To initiate the dialogue, paintings by twelve well-known historical artists —  Charles Curtis Allen, Martha Wood Belcher, Robert Noel Blair, Alden Bryan, Francis Colburn, Jay Hall Connaway, Thomas Curtin, Emile Gruppe, Charles Louis Heyde, Aldro Hibbard, Fred Hines and Charles Movalli — were selected. Most were picked for the identifiable and preserved locations they painted. A few were chosen for their representation of recognizable Vermont themes, such as maple trees and barns with silos. In all, thirty-one paintings of Vermont locations in the twentieth century were chosen.

John C. Traynor, West River Valley, South Londonderry, oil, 18 x 24
John C. Traynor, West River Valley, South Londonderry, oil, 18 x 24

Subsequently, thirty-three contemporary artists were invited to paint at the same locations as their predecessors, in which they engaged over the course of a year. Places such as Stowe Village, views of Mount Mansfield and the Peacham Church — all iconic Vermont locations — were visited and re-visited by artists in every season over the past year. A chart of locations, posted privately on line, allowed the artists to self-select the locations they wished to paint. Some artists chose to visit a particular location together, while others chose the same location, but painted at different times. One artist made a family vacation out of the project with his children painting alongside him, while another artist flew a drone over the scene, which had grown unreachable.

Kevin Fahey, Fairfax Falls, oil, 12 x 30
Kevin Fahey, Fairfax Falls, oil, 12 x 30

Regardless of the weather or season, the Vermont landscape, dotted with painters at their easels, has been a familiar sight to local residents for over a century. This exhibit, curated by gallery manager Tom Waters, brings together works by respected and influential twentieth-century deceased artists alongside contemporary treatments of the same scenes, underscoring aesthetically the passage of time, the lineage of style, and the diversity of vision.

T.M. Nicholas, Bakersfield Farm- house, oil, 16 x 20
T.M. Nicholas, Bakersfield Farm- house, oil, 16 x 20

T. M. Nicholas, Stapleton Kearns and Garin Baker painted at Tinker Farm in Bakersfield. A half century earlier Fred Hines had painted its farm buildings from a snow-covered road, elevated behind the fields. Nicholas added a rugged intimacy to the scene by positioning his composition right up to the fence along the side of the road. Kearns painted the same view from a slightly higher vantage point, obliterating the fence, but cloaking the scene with a fragile, settled quality. Baker tackled the view, midway between the road and the fence, emphasizing the growth of the farm. Their paintings, side by side, underscore the imprint of time from Hines’ distant view, as the farm buildings have both settled into and taken over more land.

Stapleton Kearns, The Tinker Farm, oil, 16 x 20
Stapleton Kearns, The Tinker Farm, oil, 16 x 20

The influence of these earlier painters is readily apparent in the work of many contemporary artists. Thomas Curtin (1899– 1977) sets a twentieth-century tone with his Autumn Maple, isolating a majestic orange and sun-kissed tree in the middle of the picture against an almost hidden moun- tain. Half a century later, Peter Yesis paints a trio of maples in various stages of growth, and extends the scene to include the cows in the field.

Thomas Curtin, Autumn Maple, oil, 24 x 28
Thomas Curtin, Autumn Maple, oil, 24 x 28

Ken DeWaard is drawn toward Emile Gruppe’s (1896-1978) Covered Bridge without ever having known him. The concept of the covered bridge in every season has acquired iconic status in Vermont, as evidenced by several works from a covered bridge in a snowstorm, to a covered walking bridge, inviting a stroll in warmer weather. By installing the works in groups, according to location, insight abounds into how diverse artists approach the same subject. Their choices and their contrasts underscore how the landscape has endured or changed over time.

While project guidelines allowed for a generous interpretation of the sites, some artists such as Christopher Magadini set up a view of Haystack Mountain in what could have been the footprint of Jay Hall Connaway (1893-1970.) Other artists such as Yesis found it necessary to approach Winooski Falls just up river from where Alden Bryan (1913-2001) painted it, a par- ticular location which is no longer accessible. The change of location predicated a change of tone as well. Thus with Bryan, one is impacted by the majesty of the scene from afar, whereas with Yesis one is drawn into more serene and intimate detail.

In Aldro Hibbard’s (1886-1972) West River in Autumn the colorful fall foliage dominates the canvas, while South Londonderry is barely visible except for a few buildings and the white church spire below the mountains and against the abundance of orange-hued trees. John Traynor, on the other hand, has framed a more immediate view of the same area in winter. At first, the viewer wonders if the matching geography is referenced; the abundance of foliage is missing, and the vantage point has shifted to the southwest. Ultimately it is Traynor’s proximity to both mature and voluntary trees, bare in winter, which strip the scene of its autumnal grandeur and hint at the raw reality of winter.

Aldro Hibbard, West River in Au- tumn, oil, 24 x 32
Aldro Hibbard, West River in Au- tumn, oil, 24 x 32

Mt. Mansfield, the state’s highest peak at 4,395 feet elevation above sea level, looms large in the exhibit. Viewed from the east and from the west, it occupies the foreground and the background of several paintings. Garin Baker and Caleb Stone keep the mountain at bay as much as possible. Baker utilizes the mountain as a snow- capped backdrop with the picture plane dominated by recent additions — street signs, utility lines, a paved road and silos.

So too, Caleb Stone places a figure in red, walking a dog, ironically dominating the scene against the mountain, despite their diminutive size. Charles Curtis Allen (1886-1950) and Charles Louis Heyde embrace it front and center. Allen’s Mt. Mansfield conveys a classic scene of the crispness of recent snowfall.

In Cindy House’s recent visit to Otter Creek Valley she observed the same tranquility that attracted Martha Wood Belcher (1844-1930), who infused her broad depiction of the valley with a nineteenth-century sense of serenity, not missing a detail of the terrain, animals, people, mountains and sky. House’s pastel Mist Over Otter Creek simplifies the terrain while catching more subtle variations in color and form as to hold onto the scene’s harmony and sense of the past.

MistoverOtterCreek_18x21_House
Cindy House, Mist Over Ot-ter Creek, pastel, 18 x 24

Though wooden and even metal sap buckets are now the rarity, Mary Martin’s team of horses and human workers evoke the industry of Aldro Hibbard’s Maple Syrup Cart. Hibbard’s oxen pull a sled carrying the wooden bucket, while Martin’s horses pull a wagon, accompanied by two bundled-up workers. Both suggest the diligence of productivity.

Aldro Hibbard, Maple Syrup Cart, oil, 30 x 36
Aldro Hibbard, Maple Syrup Cart, oil, 30 x 36
Mary Martin, The Sugar Camp, oil, 24 x 24
Mary Martin, The Sugar Camp, oil, 24 x 24

 

As many as four artists visited the same sites, resulting in a kaleidoscope of viewpoints that surround each location. Among the youngest of the twentieth-century artists, Robert Blair (1912-2002) was known for the exuberance of his watercolors, as seen in his Fairfax Falls. In Mark Boedges’ work the falls rush by; in Kevin Fahey’s painting the rocks frame the flow; and William Hoyt surveys a wider scene.

In this ambitious gathering of artists, locations, and 120 paintings, many of the participants expressed a similar sentiment as James Coe, who commented about selecting the same site as Cindy House, and then comparing notes once back in the studio. He talked about the thrill of finding new places to paint and sharing the discoveries with fellow artists. Others confessed about the adjustment required by the project, in some cases deciding a more interesting view was now in the opposite direction.

Curator Tom Waters referenced his discussions with the artists over the past year and theirs with each other as to how the landscape has changed or stayed the same. He notes that while there were contrasts of viewpoint and style, there was a keen awareness of the impact of the older generation of artists on their work. “The artists themselves have been having exactly the discussions we hope to spark in the visiting public,” Waters noted. The collection as a whole reflects a celebration of what we value today, and one cannot help but wonder what influence that will have on the future. Stepping back into a rich palette of natural beauty, Then and Now offers a whole new generation of observations against a back- drop of rich, painterly legacy.

Then and Now is on view through September 2, 2019, at the Bryan Memorial Gallery, 180 Main Street, Jeffersonville, Vermont, 05464, 802-644-5100.

View the Full Gallery of paintings on the Bryan Memorial Website here: Then & Now Image Gallery

The End of an Era

By Mickey Myers

Bryan Memorial Gallery sent the following press release to its press contacts this week.

Bryan Memorial Gallery
Jeffersonville, VT
Susan Lassiter’s Presidency concludes after 8 Years;
Julie Brown succeeds her.

Susan Lassiter of Underhill, a Vice President of Union Bank and Manager of its Jeffersonville branch, stepped down as President of the Bryan Memorial Gallery Board at the Gallery Annual Meeting after a tenure of eight years.  Joining the board originally in 2008, Lassiter assumed the role of President unexpectedly in 2011 on an “interim” basis, but was subsequently re-elected annually for the next seven one-year terms.

Susan LassiterShe is succeeded by Julie Brown of Jeffersonville, whose term became effective immediately.  Brown was originally elected to the Bryan Gallery Board in 2018, and served as co-chair of the Gallery’s On Line Auction Committee.

Lassiter’s involvement with The Bryan began through her association with the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, where she was Branch manager of the Stowe branch of Union Bank.  While there, she volunteered on the Helen Day’s Gala Committee, working alongside Mickey Myers, then HDAC Executive Director.  Shortly after Lassiter moved to the Jeffersonville branch of Union Bank, Myers became Director of Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville, and their association resumed.

Susan LassiterLassiter remembers saying to Myers, “. . . . but I don’t know anything about art,” to which Mickey replied, “You don’t have to know anything about art.”  Myers reflects that Lassiter’s enthusiasm for the Gallery and her involvement with the community through Cambridge Rotary and the Cambridge Arts Council brought a vitality to the Gallery that remains tangible to this day.   “Wherever Susan goes, she talks about the Gallery,” Myers commented, “She’s a one person public relations marvel, and the Gallery has benefited from her leadership every day.”

Myers remarked that Lassiter’s willingness to support new programs and outreach to the community has enhanced the Gallery’s profile as a leading center for landscape art, now in its 35th year.

Lassiter will remain on the board in the capacity of Immediate Past President and Chair of the Special Events Committee.  Myers concluded “Fortunately Susan is not going far and Julie Brown is the perfect successor.  So the Gallery is doubly blessed as we move into the future.”

Postscript:  That’s the conclusion of the press release, but it is not the conclusion of the enormous impact Susan Lassiter has had on the Gallery and the community. Though we rarely articulated it because we didn’t have to, it has been a mutual pleasure to partner with Susan, President and Executive Director, for all these many years.  It was such an easy partnership that the work and the ideas just flowed from one to another, back and forth, all the time.

I don’t think I ever heard Susan say, “No” to a new idea, and her articulation of her concerns was always supportive and full of integrity.  That kind of support is an Executive Director’s dream and a great legacy for the arts in Vermont, which have thrived under Susan’s leadership in our corner of Lamoille County and beyond.

Cabin Fever: Collaging Spring

by Mickey Myers

“After December, all weather that is not wintry is springlike.”  – Thoreau

. . . .and so it seemed during the first CABIN FEVER event of the 2019 season, spring had sprung.

Bryan Memorial Gallery introduced its Cabin Fever Series four years ago as an antidote to winter.  Whether crawling the walls or gazing endlessly out the cabin window, our artists and patrons have told us the gallery offers solace, especially as an alternative to the endlessness of the winter months, particularly this year.

The Cabin Fever series was launched to formalize this proposition – that the winter months offer the opportunity to hear new ideas, and/or affirm old ideas.  Regardless, ideas are prime.

. . . . and so, with this year’s Cabin Fever series, we introduced a new medium (new to us,  that is) to lead off the entire Cabin Fever series with a collage workshop.  It was a daring idea.  Collage has never been a mainstay of the gallery, but Sandra fw Beaty, a part-time resident of Montgomery VT (and Atlanta GA,) came to us, willing to take the risk with us and introduce the gallery to collage.

We did all those things you do when you haven’t done something previously – breathe deeply, fantasize, cross all t’s and dot the i’s, and in general prepare and publicize as thoroughly as possible.  And wouldn’t  you know, collage struck a chord.

Our members were just waiting for Sandra’s workshop.  They filled the ranks, showed up on time, and are already asking for more.  What was her message and her magic?  Well, her message was largely contained in the playful display of her own work, which is on view for YOU to see during the winter months through March 31, in the gallery’s Pop Up Gallery.  If you can’t make it over, check it out on our website.  The magic?  Largely it was dependent on each participant in her workshop, whose afternoon explorations can be seen below.

“What happened?”  Sandra came with her suitcases full of art papers she has collected all over the world, spread them out on the floor and invited the participants to dive in and make art.  Photographs were provided for source material, and Sandra circulated through the sold out crowd through the day, exclaiming and encouraging.  She was an enthusiastic partner in the process.

In the end, we can summarize it as follows:  art may be the most gentle antidote to the endlessness of winter.  When you really let it in, spring has sprung regardless of the date on the calendar.

Sandra 1 Sandra 2 Sandra 3 Sandra 4 Sandra 5 Sandra 6 Sandra 7 Sandra 8 Sandra 9 Sandra 10 Sandra 11 Sandra 12

Who Was Edith Sibley?

by Mickey Myerssibley_gloucesterboats

This painting of boats, presumably in Gloucester Harbor but perhaps elsewhere along the New England or Nova Scotia Coast, came to Bryan Memorial Gallery recently through a former Board member and good friend. He had inherited it from a relative and brought it to us to include in the Hidden Treasures section of the Gallery’s Legacy Collection. But who is the artist?

Hidden Treasures is a service Bryan Gallery offers its members, taking on consignment artworks by deceased artists which the current owner no longer wishes to retain. The gallery researches current market prices for works by the artist, agreeing upon a retail price with the owner. The artwork is then installed in the East Gallery, and posted on the Gallery’s website. In the event of a sale, the gallery takes a commission.

There’ve been some notable inclusions in the Hidden Treasures corner. A stunning Luigi Lucioni comes to mind. There’ve been a few Walton Blodgetts and John Hammond is there right now. It’s a productive way for the gallery to offer works by artists whose work is not regularly on the market, and there is always a moment of pride when the artwork’s owner sees a family treasure installed on our walls. It’s win-win.

Since this painting by Edith Sibley arrived at the gallery it has us in a quandary. Our research has produced no reference to a painter named Edith Sibley anywhere. We’ve found an Edith G. Sibley who was born in Vermont in 1891 and died in Charlotte NC in 1983. We’ve also found an Edith Sibley who was born in 1915, and living in Saluda, VA in 1940.

We’ve asked several of our artist friends from Cape Ann, and they do not know of her either, except that all agree she was a good painter. We’ve looked everywhere to seek out this information, “Who was Edith Sibley,” and nowhere have we found an answer.

So we’re asking you. Is there an Edith Sibley painting hanging on your wall? Do you ever remember seeing a work by her? We think this painting is just too good to be the only one. Any ideas? Contact us at the gallery. Or drop by and check out this wonderful painting in person. We’d love to learn more about the artist or the location of this painting.

Charles Movalli Award for Excellence in Painting

By Mickey Myers

Bryan Memorial Gallery announces the Charles Movalli Award for Excellence in Painting to be presented at the 2018 Land and Light Awards on September 9, 2018.

Artist Dale Ratcliffe Movalli and Timothy Neill are pictured with a maquette for the Charles Movalli Medal for Excellence in Painting
Artist Dale Ratcliffe Movalli and Timothy Neill are pictured with a maquette for the Charles Movalli Medal for Excellence in Painting

The Award, a gold and copper relief medal of Movalli, designed by sculptor Daniel Altshuler of Gloucester, MA, is made possible by the Estate of Charles Movalli, with arrangements made by Dale Ratcliffe Movalli, his widow also of Gloucester, MA.  The Award will be presented annually over the next eight years.

Charles Movalli (1945 – 2016) was a friend of Bryan Memorial Gallery, dating back even before the gallery was in existence as he came here to paint in Jeffersonville, and maintained a friendship with Alden Bryan, whom he knew originally from Gloucester, MA.  Movalli and Ratcliffe juried an earlier Land and Light exhibition (2008), and he was a participating artist in several subsequent Land and Light exhibits, winning the Second Place award in 2011.

Known and esteemed both as a painter and a writer, Movalli grew up in the home of artists and was inclined to teaching about art from his youngest years.  Though earning his PhD in English from University of Connecticut, Movalli’s texts were most frequently about art.  In the course of his career, he edited nine texts on artists, and American Artist magazine published 80 of his articles.  He painted at least 5,000 paintings in his lifetime, and he was best known for his landscapes and marine paintings.  

H1066-L03543020

What his friends and fellow artists recall about him was his infectious enthusiasm for all the fine arts, especially architecture and opera, and his generosity in sharing what he had learned with others, through his writings, workshops, lectures and casual conversations.  Popularly called The Ambassador of Cape Ann, he maintained a vivid interest in the history of the Rocky Neck Art Colony in Massachusetts throughout his lifetime.

The Charles Movalli Medal for Excellence in the Arts has been presented at the North Shore Arts Association and the Rockport Art Association, both in 2017.  It will be presented in at the Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville at the Gallery’s Annual Awards ceremony on Sunday, September 9, 2018.  

 

The Russians Are Coming!

By Mickey Myers

March 13th Update!

The Russians are HERE!  A contingent of outstanding Russian Artists are here this week and next painting in and around Jeffersonville. They are joined by dozens or artists from all over New England (and beyond) painting the beautiful Vermont Landscape en plein air (in the plain air).

Viktor Butko, Maxim Mikhalenia, Irina Rybakova, Oleg Zhuravlev are joined by translators and an all-star list of painters. Bryan Memorial Gallery will host a One-Night-Only Exhibition of the work of these artists on Wednesday March 21st from 6-8PM. This is a not-to-miss event. Refreshments will be served and artists on hand, so bone up on your Russian and come enjoy some fantastic art.
More information is below in the original post.

In an Olympics Year Bryan Memorial Gallery is about to participate in a little Detente of its own.  It’s painters détente for which, full disclosure, Bryan Gallery is only one very small part among many who are working to bring about this exchange.

Jeffersonville, Vermont will welcome a group of Russian plein air artists for two weeks in March (9 – 23.)  The list of painters (so far) from Russia include Viktor Butko, Oleg Zhuravlev and Irina Rybakova who will will take up residence on Main Street in Jeffersonville, and be joined by several American painters, painting en plein air throughout the two weeks of their visit in the US.

Their stay will culminate in a one day installation of their paintings at Bryan Memorial Gallery, with a reception open to the public.  The reception is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21 (6-8PM) in the evening.

Many of these painters know each other, as the visit is privately organized, part of an exchange that has taken place over the past few years, of Russians coming to iconic New England locations to paint, and Americans going to paint with them each of the last few alternate years.  This is the first time that Vermont has been their destination, and appropriately Jeffersonville has been selected, as it has been a mecca for plein air artists for over 100 years.

American Painters in Russia
American Painters in Russia

We are pleased to know (and display work by) some of the artists who went over to Russia last year, and to hear gratifying stories of their painting together in Kostroma 200 miles northeast of Moscow.   We heard about their final evening’s exhibition at a community center where art was the common language, and we saw painting after painting, posted in social media, that stirred our souls and bridged cultures.

So when Bryan Gallery was invited to host the final evening’s reception, we were happy to say “Da!”  Winter is the Season of the Pop Up Gallery at The Bryan, and what better to offer for a brief but exquisite moment of international understanding through painting.

This story is going to evolve, so you are encouraged to visit the Gallery’s website and this blog often over the next month, as we confirm dates and times and the names of other artists who will be joining us for this time together in Vermont.

In the meantime, here are the bios of the 3 Russian artists we know are coming so far.

Victor Nikolaevich Butko
Victor Butko was born in 1978 in Moscow into a veritable artistic dynasty.  Several generations of family were well known artists, including his grandfather, (both graduates of the Imperial Stroganov Art Schoo,) as well as Honored Art Workers of Russia, and of course his own parents, Nikolai Butko and Marina Chulovich.

Butko
Victor Butko

From early childhood, Butko was involved in the creative work of his family.  His first art lessons were given by his parents.  His grandfather also greatly influenced his work, especially landscapes.  Butko’s still life painting style was developed from exposure to an incredible collection of objects to be found in the family’s studio.  Butko painted from them for his first still life works.

In 1989 Butko entered the Moscow Academy Art Lyceum under the supervision of the Russian Academy of Arts, where he studied watercolor and oil painting.  In 1994 he took part in his first art exhibition, in the Art Lyceum Students’ Exhibition at the Central House of Art Workers.  After graduation from art school, Butko went to Vishny Volochok, where he continued to study painting, especially influenced by the works of Russian landscape masters.   In 1997 Butko took part in the exhibition of the Moscow Art Union at its gallery in Krymsky Val, and afterwards became a union member.  Butko’s works are exhibited at galleries throughout Russia.

Oleg Zhuravlev
Oleg Zhuravlev was born in 1981 in Furmanov, Ivanovo region. In 2009 Oleg was graduated from Ivanovo Art School named after Mark Malyutin and of Moscow State Academic Art Institute named after Vasiliy Surikov.

Oleg Zhuravlev: Fall
Oleg Zhuravlev

Oleg is a member of the Artists’ Union of Russia and the Moscow Artists’ Union, the founder of the art club “Tradition” and a holder of the Ministry for Culture’s fellowship (Russian Federation, 2009). Oleg was awarded silver and bronze medals by the Artists’ Union Russia. In 2008 he was honored by the Central federal district honorary diplomas in the nominations “painting and sculpture”. Oleg was awarded the gold medal of the All-Russian exhibition “Symbols of the Fatherland”. The main theme of the artist’s work is landscape, city landscape. Olegs painting deeply reflects the feeling of environment character and spirits. The artist tries to fix and express surprising nuances of landscape, its scarcely perceptible lights and darks. Oleg is an active participant of various international exhibitions and plein-airs. Oleg Zhuravlev lives and works in Moscow.

Irina Rybakova
Irina Rybakova is a talented realist painter. She was born in Vyshny Volochok, Tver region. She spent her childhood in a village near to The Repin Academicheskaya Dacha. It is the oldest and well-known creative base of Artists in Russia; many famous Russian artists worked there.

Irina Rybakova
Irina Rybakova

When Irina was 5 years old, she began to pose for brothers Tkachov. The first painting by them with Irina was “The Bread of the Republic”. Little Irina wanted to paint too, that is why she set up her own still life in her garden and painted. Once her future teacher L. Ostrova saw that and offered to teach Irina to paint. When Irina was 11, she went to Art School. While studying at Kostroma State University she had many successful shows. Her works can be found in many private collections in Russia, Europe, in the USA, Kuwait. Public collections include many Fine Art Galleries of Kostroma, Mogilev (Belarus), Byalinyichi (Belarus), Vyshni Volochok, Plyos, Tarussa, Kolomna.

And Maxim Mikhalenia (detail to come).

Here is a partial list of some of the American Artists joining them and who will also have selected works on display.

Tom Adkins, Garin Baker, Harley Bartlett, Zufar Bikbov,Kelly Carmody, T.A. Charron, Beaman Cole, Ken Dewaard, Vitoria Doberstein, Michel Gerard Doucet, Hunter Eddy, Ben Fenske, Nadia Geller, Bob Graves, Mike Graves, Moses Hamborg, Stapleton Kearns, Ken Knowles, Renee Lammers, Leo Mancini-Hzerko, Peter Miller, T.M. Nicholas, Rachel Personett, Andrew Orr, Rae O’Shea, Sergio Roffo, Kim Senior, Eric Tobin, Stewart White, Peter Yesis

Full painting by TM Nicholas while in Russia in 2017
Full painting by TM Nicholas while in Russia in 2017