Last Reception of the Summer is August 19th!

West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park proudly presents two exhibitions of new and recent works by local artists Kathleen Kolb and Charlie Bluett this August, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 19th from 6 – 8 pm.

Bird Finder (2017) by Kathleen Kolb, Oil on Linen, 24″ x 36″

August 19 – October 15, 2017

Thin Places, Long Light: Paintings of Ireland and Vermont by Kathleen Kolb

“It’s not clear who first uttered the term “thin places,” but they almost certainly spoke with an Irish brogue. The ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians, used the term to describe mesmerizing places like the wind-swept isle of Iona (now part of Scotland) or the rocky peaks of Croagh Patrick. Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter.

…Maybe thin places offer glimpses not of heaven but of earth as it really is, unencumbered. Unmasked.” (Eric Weiner in the NYT, March 2012)

Kathleen Kolb embraces realism with a warmth and emotional connection to her subject matter that stands in strong opposition to criticism the genre has faced in the past that it, with an emphasis on painting referencing photography, is cold, overly technical, or emotionally void. In the creation of this collection of new and recent works inspired by travels in Ireland and throughout her home state of Vermont, Kathleen was driven by two sustained, emotive forces: a deep attachment to place and a passion for the visual effects of light on our everyday surroundings.

As our fundamental timekeeper, the movement of the sun’s light informs how we define moments, days, and seasons, both literally and figuratively, in our lives. The artist’s formal treatment of its effects on the landscape invites us to pause our traditionally linear perception of time. In doing so, we’re encouraged to contemplate spaces in which light and dark, past and present, and feelings of longing and belonging are felt as fluidly as day drifting into night.

While the work on view here can be read on the surface as faithful descriptions of particular buildings, hillsides and vistas, they rise above their loyalty to observational accuracy and documentary detail to evoke a sense of home, in the most expansive of terms. As defined by the artist, home is the intangible force that draws us back to treasured spaces; it is the desire to root ourselves in the greater landscape and ultimately, to create and foster a sense of community in those thin places where we are all drawn that much closer.

A Walk Amongst the Crowds (2017) by Charlie Bluett, Acrylic on Canvas, 36″ x 72″

August 19 – October 15, 2017

Elements: Charlie Bluett

One of the key Abstract Expressionist in the New York School of painters, Robert Motherwell, said, “The function of the artist is to express reality as felt.”

Most artists would agree that their motivation is to touch the viewer in hopes of eliciting a response, but not all are successful. In order to achieve this, it is essential that the artist posses the ability to be fully in the moment of expression without thought or judgment, to allow his or herself to be consumed by the emotion put to canvas. Simply put, this is the fire beneath the work of Charlie Bluett, featured here in his first solo exhibition at West Branch Gallery, on view through October 15, 2017.

Originally from London, England, Charlie Bluett now calls Westfield, Vermont, home, and he’s a true convert. Charlie wholeheartedly embraces the erratic and visceral experience of Vermont. He’ll recall in detail imagery as varied as the morning mist rising to reveal the mountains, rain soaked stonewalls bursting with new moss & lichen, and the glancing sun on the pebble-strewn creek bed. We’ve all experienced these moments that demand our attention, when thoughts of the “everyday” take a back seat and we feel peace and gratitude.

Charlie fills himself up with these moments and brings them into his studio. He’s not a realist- he doesn’t paint the events of nature – but rather, he is an expressionist, painting the feeling of the nature. Charlie sets the scene with subtle references to the elements in his work- pebble shapes, mountain horizon lines, stacked stones.

Through color, light, and repetition of shapes, Charlie enhances the feeling of his experience, leaving details and memories to each viewer’s personal interpretation. Each painting is not only a visual scene to understand and enjoy, but an impression to be felt. This is the art of Charlie Bluett. It’s nostalgia that runs deep under the skin. His appreciation of our changeling state of Vermont brings him enormous joy, which he shares with us in this exhibition.

An opening reception to celebrate both exhibitions will be held at West Branch Gallery on Saturday, July 8th from 6 – 8 pm. For more event info and to let us know you’re coming, click here!