Travels with Bryan Memorial Gallery

By Mickey Myers, Executive Director

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

I’ve always loved this quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson, ever since first coming across it in the days when travel was but a dream.  There was something about its impetus to find beauty in the ordinary that stirred my stay-at-home soul, sending my imagination soaring whenever I read it.

Like everything else, travel means different things to different people: business trips, family vacations, destination events, finding new places to paint and escape from just about anything. At the conclusion of these winter months, there are days when it seems that everyone is going somewhere, even for just a change of winter scenery.

This year, travel seems to be a theme among many things we are doing at the gallery.  We didn’t really plan it this way, but it developed out of exhibits we wanted to offer and programs we considered providing.  All of a sudden, we found ourselves with a thread of an idea, twisting through the programs on the schedule, and the theme of travel was born.

The travel theme has landed squarely in three major Bryan Gallery undertakings.  They are:

TMNicholas_ItalianHarborTraveling Artists, the Main Gallery exhibit, opening May 4 through June 25.  When originally suggested, we wondered if we could get any of our artists to share their travel pictures, and after we announced this exhibit were we surprised, in fact dumbfounded!  There were more entries to this exhibit’s jury than to most exhibit juries, and the countries represented were more far away and exotic than ever, some we had not heard of:  from Provence to Portugal, from Croatia to Argentina, to the Kjollefjord, the Black Desert in Egypt, to Myanmar.  Traveling Artists will take you around the world several times over. To say the least, our bucket list just grew in response to the checklist for this exhibit.

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Chagall: Colour and Music:  Little did we expect when we looked around to see “what’s playing” nearby, that the largest exhibit of Marc Chagall’s work ever mounted in Canada was a bus trip away at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal.  Remember when Charlie Nardozzi came last year to speak about the gallery’s ROMANCING THE GARDEN exhibition?  He dazzled us with the story of his upcoming trip to the gardens of the British Isles and one of our board members took the trip with him.  She came back, singing the praises of Goodspeed and Bach, the Burlington-based travel company that organized the trip.  So we approached G + B, and we’re going to Montreal.  Deb Flanders of Goodspeed and Bach is planning our trip and coming with us, and I’ll go along to fill in with stories about Chagall – a man of many countries, many talents and many colours – spelled the international way.  The trip is May 23.

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Frank Mason:  Artist and Teacher:  Frank Mason (1921 – 2009) left his mark on art and artists in so many varied ways, it is a toss up to know where to begin his story.  In Vermont, however, we can begin his story in Vermont.  Frank loved Vermont.  He loved to teach in Vermont.  He considered the rolling vistas perfect for how he wanted his New York City-based Art Students League students to think about landscape and paint landscape.  So every June for 40 years, Frank and his Art Students League students would come to paint for the month in Vermont.  It created such a momentum that today, 8 years after his death, the students – now many established painters – are coming to the same rural communities to paint in a group.  Vermont and its mystical perspective does it again.  This exhibit represents travel from the point of view of the destination, which Vermont wears proudly.  22 of Mason’s Vermont paintings will hang alongside the works of at least 40 of his students.

L476_Goodrich Silos, Peacham, VT

Finally, as the year comes to a conclusion around the various holidays, an exhibit is in the planning stages that represents a different kind of travel – the travel of the imagination – the twilight zone.  Fantastical Landscapes and Imaginary Places (November 9 – December 30) will represent works, limited only by the dreams of our artists.  More will be available about this exhibit soon.

So this exhibition year will conclude as it is starting, with visits to places that are new to us:  new landscapes, new light, new terrain, new ideas, with the thread of skill, tying it altogether.

Courthouse Gallery

by Mickey Myers

Bryan Memorial Gallery has been invited by the Lamoille County Courthouse to install artwork in its stately corridors in one of the final phases of the recent Courthouse renovation.  This current exhibit of Vermont Landscapes at the Lamoille County Courthouse features 38 paintings by 20 artists who paint in Vermont.  The installation was curated by Bryan Gallery Executive Director Mickey Myers and Gallery Manager Tom Waters, and can be seen Monday – Friday, 8 AM – 4:30 PM (Closed 12 – 12:30 PM,) by visiting the Courthouse at 154 Main Street, Hyde Park, Vermont (fully handicap accessible.)  

There’s nothing like a new building or a newly renovated public space to summon soaring spirits and invigorated purpose.  When the building is a courthouse, a Superior Court House, renewed energy meets tradition for all to enjoy, as much as any courthouse is ever enjoyed.

So it is with the renovation of the Lamoille County Courthouse, age 105 years, in Hyde Park, Vermont, and its $7.5 million renovations, completed in May, 2016.  The majestic building, restored to its original, understated but elegant grandeur, has been re-appointed with many of its original fixtures, features and furniture, amidst the efficiency of demurely installed twenty-first century devices.  Adding to the spaciousness of its public areas are an additional 12,000 square feet of newly constructed functional space including a hearing room, judges’ chambers and deliberation rooms.

As with many such public renovations, its carefully crafted budget did not include much for the purchase of artwork.  After a few stately portraits, historic photographs and directional signs were reinstalled, the walls of the Courthouse’s public spaces were left blank.  Less than a couple of months after moving back to the building, the Judges and Staff of the Courthouse moved to solve this situation, extending an invitation to Bryan Memorial Gallery to address it along with them.

courthouse2Having been to the Courthouse only a few times prior, and not knowing what to expect, my breath was taken away as I passed through the metal detector, and found myself facing a sweeping corridor ahead.  In front of me lay a curator’s dream.  Soaring ceilings, tasteful benches, calmly furnished offices, and blank walls (save for those few portraits) calling out for art.

It was a big help that the Assistant Judge who articulated the invitation came over to talk with us at the Gallery, surrounded by art.  We watched what caught his eye and at the same time his attention to detail.  Dare we admit, we love attention to detail?

As Bryan Memorial Gallery is primarily a gallery for landscape painting, it was fairly instinctive that this is the kind of work we would be bringing into the Courthouse – specifically, landscapes painted in Vermont of Vermont.  As we thought about the function of the Courthouse, the people it serves in Lamoille County were our main focus.    As we thought about our Gallery, it was founded to feature the artwork of artists who came to Lamoille County to paint:  we eagerly anticipated a union of the two.

As the details fell into place, we put the exhibit together during the Gallery’s January Hiatus.   We called upon 20 artists whom we knew to have paintings that not only filled the immediate need, but also who could be nearby and available in the event that artwork had to be replaced.  Paintings in a variety of mediums – oil, watercolor and acrylics – were gathered.  Artists such as John Olson of Burlington loaned 2 paintings of his series of Vermont Towns – Morrisville and Johnson.  Johnson artist Eric Tobin offered 2 paintings of local scenes in autumn and winter.  Vladimir Vagin, originally from Moscow, Russia, now from Burlington, presented two fantasy watercolor landscapes of animals enjoying Vermont.  Susan Bull Riley’s watercolor of an unfortunate moose gathered animated attention during the installation while friends of various other artists recognized their works as they were installed.

courthouse3There were other more technical considerations, as it is the function of the curators to care for the artwork they install.  The watercolors made available to us would be installed primarily in the main corridor where they get a minimum of natural light which can be harmful to the fugitive pigments of watercolor over an extended period.  The hanging system in the Courthouse utilizes uniform fixtures installed from moldings, which delineated the size of the artworks from not too small, to not too large.  The work had to be portable from Jeffersonville to Hyde Park, and indeed we prayed for an absence of precipitation on installation day.

It is a priority for the role of the curator to assure that the artworks look good together, and that the individual pieces in a group show enhance each other, like so many voices in a chorus.  In a sense, as curators we are making a statement in assembling works that say, “This land is our land,” taking care of this particular installation to leave an impression that is genuine and clear about where we are.

Then, too, there is the more transcendent or demonstrative effect of an exhibit such as this one in a public space, especially in a Courthouse.  For whatever reasons people go to a Courthouse, to get married or divorced, to sue or be sued, to pick up a permit or pay a fee or look up a public record, a curator wants to offer a glimpse of hope to all involved.   A curator believes that art has a way of “making life more bearable,” (Kurt Vonnegut).

On behalf of Bryan Memorial Gallery, it is our hope for this installation of Vermont Landscapes at the Courthouse Gallery helps make “life more bearable,” and that it adds to the enjoyment of the Lamoille County Courthouse for our community.

To see the full gallery of images at the courthouse view the gallery on our website by clicking here: Courthouse Gallery
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Vermont Watercolor Society – Mickey Myers

Bryan Memorial Gallery Executive Director Mickey Myers spoke to the Vermont Watercolor Society on the topic of artist/gallery relations. She was on a panel with Rob Hunter of Frog Hollow and Edward Bank of Gallery NorthStar at Killington Mountain Lodge on May 22, 2016. Following are her prepared remarks in response to questions provided by the Vermont Watercolor Society.

On behalf of Bryan Memorial Gallery, thank you for inviting my participation and the opportunity to bask in the rich focus of the VT Watercolor Society once again.

32 years ago, Bryan Memorial Gallery was founded as the Mary Bryan Gallery in memory of the artist by her husband painter Alden Bryan. They had arrived in Jeffersonville, VT in 1939 to participate in an intensive winter painting workshop led by the legendary Charles Curtis Allen, and they never left. Buying a dairy farm, introducing milk pasteurization to the area, establishing a bakery, a cafe, an inn, and a fine dining restaurant, Alden Bryan was never idyll, while Mary painted daily, even before she drank her morning coffee.

The purpose of the gallery was to show the original works of artists who came to the area, at the base of the other side of Mt. Mansfield, to paint landscapes. Alden said the unique value of the area for painters was that the paintings composed themselves. An inventive hanging system in the gallery allowed works to be installed and removed quickly, as Alden catered to artists who lived elsewhere, which included just about everyone, and tourists coming through the area. It is fair to say that Alden did not immediately envision the gallery’s popularity as a cultural destination, nor the need to double its size within the first 10 years. Nor did he care about practicalities such as storage space and a shipping area. It was the splendor of the camaraderie with artists, giving them a place to show their work that thrilled him.

When Alden died in 2001, the decision to continue the non-profit gallery was made by a Board of Directors, and a more typical non-profit profile emerged: a membership structure, annual giving campaigns, an annual fund raising event, silent auctions, sponsorships, donations at the door and all other such means. That Board decided to continue the primary mission of showing New England landscape painting, and while that distinction has broadened, it dominates today.

The Bryan remains a non-profit, a membership gallery. The first and foremost way to get its attention is to join. At $40 per year it’s a low rate for which there are approx. 400 members at any given time, mostly artists, and also many supporters and volunteers.   The exhibition schedule takes place over 10 months with January and April dark.

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Welcome to the Bryan Memorial Gallery Blog

Welcome to Bryan Memorial Gallery’s revised and refreshed BLOG, bringing you behind the scenes at the gallery. The more information we provide our artists, patrons, guests and visitors, the more questions they have: about the artists, the artwork, how something was done, where the idea for a show was initiated, and always, what’s next? So my part of this rejuvenated BLOG initiative will take you “back stage” where we put shows together, starting now.

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If you’ve ever been at The Bryan for an Artist’s Roundtable Discussion you’ve heard me say that we couldn’t do it without our “A” Team*. These volunteers install our exhibits and after years of doing so, have it down to a science, although they always welcome new members of the team.

They usually arrive at the gallery on Monday morning before an opening. Within an hour, they have dismantled the prior show in the Main Gallery, brought the artwork for the next show out of the vault and are starting to talk about an approach to hanging the show. Jim and I may offer a few “coach’s tips,” telling them what to expect in terms of the idiosyncrasies of that particular show, but they are off and running quickly.

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An assembly line of measuring, drilling, inserting screws, cables, and tagging is set up in the middle of the room, and by lunchtime, the installation is definitely starting to take shape. The “anchor” pieces are among the first chosen to be installed. Those are usually the paintings in 4 – 6 key locations around which other works are installed. While not all larger pieces are anchors and not all anchors are larger works, more often than not the anchor pieces have been obvious as the work as the works were delivered. Next time you’re at the gallery, look for the anchors.

Continue reading Welcome to the Bryan Memorial Gallery Blog