With new work featured in two highly anticipated exhbitions at the Shelburne Museum and Fleming Museum of Art at the University of Vermont, West Branch artists Charlie Hunter, Clark Derbes, Duncan Johnson, and Nori Morimoto have been staying busy this season. Read on for more about these exhibitions, on view now in Shelburne and Burlington, VT.
The Shelburne Museum joined forces with the Vermont Land Trust to partner 13 local artists and photographers with conserved places throughout the state. The artists had roughly one year to develop a relationship with the conserved working landscape, be it orchard, farm, forest, or sugar house. On view now at the museum are the visual expressions of those collaborative experiences in varied media, including site-specific installations, paintings, and photography. Charlie Hunter, a local history buff in his own right, was eager to further explore an already quite well established personal relationship with longtime landowner, organic farmer, and first wave farm-to-table advocate, Paul Harlow, and three of his farms: River View, Harlow, and Krestel. After a summer of sketching and preparatory work, Charlie created the triptych of paintings now on display, one representing each farmland, in his characteristic tonal style.
“Eyes on the Land” is on view through January 3, 2016 in the Pizzagalli Center for Art & Education and throughout museum grounds.
While we’re known for our Green Mountains here in Vermont, it’s easy to forget about the valuable material covering a great deal of that sloping surface area. In Grain, on view now at the Fleming Museum of Art, brings together contemporary works by 10 artists, 7 of whom live and work in Vermont, that are taking advantage of that ancient sculptural and technologically responsive medium: wood.
Inspired by the vibrancy of the Mardi Gras culture of his native New Orleans and traditions of roadside woodcarving in Vermont, where he now lives, Clark Derbes’ polychromed freestanding sculptures are but one example of the medium’s versatility explored in the exhibition. The legible marks of the chainsaw Derbes uses to carve the three-dimensional sculptures stand in stark contrast to the clean, grid-like squares and lines of color that cover their surfaces. At first glance, the result seems to be an illusion of three-dimensionality on a two-dimensional surface, but upon closer inspection, it’s revealed that the piece is in fact fully three-dimensional, after all.
Derbes’ work is featured on standing pedestals with fellow West Branch sculptor, Nori Morimoto’s, pieces displayed on the neighboring wall. Burn marks, precisely carved angles and protrusions, and pockmarks left by since evacuated termites are but a few of the surfaces and textures at play in the arrangement of Morimoto’s tile-like squares of carved and polychromed wood.
Turning the corner reveals two large-scale wall pieces by a third West Branch and Vermont-based artist, Duncan Johnson. Trading his meticulously sanded, cut, and interlocked grids of reclaimed wood for a latticework approach, these new works explore depth, layers, and our perception of their sequencing. You can easily get lost in trying to decipher the order in which strips of wood weave above, below, and across their neighbors.
Other featured artists include former Middlebury professor of sculpture and drawing, Eric Nelson, third generation Italian woodcarver, Bruno Walpoth, and Massachusetts College of Art & Design grad, A.M. Disher.
“In Grain: Contemporary Work in Wood” is on view at the Fleming Museum of Art through December 18, 2015.