Vt. artists consider ‘Power of Place’ at Brandon gallery

BRANDON — Vermonters who spend every day driving up and down Route 7, weaving through the state’s many back roads, or hiking on scenic trails can sometimes come to take for granted the striking beauty of the scenery around them.
On July 7, Brandon’s Gallery in the Field opened an exhibit called “The Power of Place: Landscapes and Mindscapes from Vermont,” featuring work from four Vermont artists, that reminded the roughly 300 people in attendance of the splendor in Vermont’s landscape.
Fran Bull, the owner of Gallery in the Field, called the unusually large crowd “a tsunami of human beings.”
The four featured artists were Phoebe Stone of Middlebury, Judith Reilly of Brandon, Dick Weis of Castleton and Linda Durkee of Danby, who was also the curator of the show.
Bull attributed the large crowd to multiple factors, including the support of each artist’s individual communities and a general desire for art in Vermont.
“I think that there is a hunger for art,” said Bull. “And I think that the community was expanded, because there were four artists from different locations, geographically speaking, so each one had his or her community.”
The mixture of communities is something that Bull enjoys seeing at openings, and said that it is a sign that the art strikes a chord with many different kinds of individuals.
“My whole mission has been to weave together these communities, from Burlington all the way down to Bennington,” Bull said. “This was a really marvelous mixture of people, and a lot of people I didn’t know. For me it’s always a good sign when I don’t know too many people at an opening.”
The show’s theme was the brainchild of Durkee, whom Bull approached in the spring about the chance to curate a show in her gallery.
“(I told her) ‘Come up with a theme. It’s going to be in the middle of the summer,” said Bull. “And this was the theme that she came up with: ‘The Power of Place.’”
Bull could not have been more thrilled with the artists that Durkee selected for the show, all of whom use different styles and mediums in their artistic pursuits.
“Each of them came at the theme from a very personal standpoint,” said Bull.
She described how each artist approached the theme of place.
“(Stone) brought in a number of works that have to do with rooms that she’s inhabited in her life that have meant a great deal to her,” said Bull of the Middlebury-based artist who works mainly in pastels. “There are rooms in it that have deep emotion … and have a lot of meaning for her.”
Reilly, a fabric artist, “can do anything,” according to Bull.
“She’s just a masterful virtuoso … the ‘place’ for her, I think, would be her imagination, and also her childhood — growing up on farms and now, being in a place where … there is agriculture and there are gorgeous landscapes,” said Bull of Reilly, who grew up on a dairy farm in Verbank, N.Y.
“What she’s done is taken this very traditional craft of quilt making and bumped it up to the next level, and then a level beyond that.”
Bull describes Weis’ work as “lyrical abstraction.”
“His work in this show is largely abstract, but inspired by his relationship to nature … It’s just soft and beautiful and evocative of nature, and yet not specific but more emotional,” said Bull of the long-time Green Mountain College professor and award-winning artist.
Durkee is a collage artist, and Bull describes her work as “very beautiful (and) poetic.”
“She’s really connected to the mountains, so a lot of her work shows the mountains in a very sort of abstracted way … you get the essence of what mountains are,” said Bull. “There’s a mythic sense of the feminine … presences with the mountains — in the mountains, under the mountains, through the mountains.”
Even though each artist has a different style, Bull sees a common theme in each of their works.
“The thread running through it all, I think, is color,” said Bull. “There is vivid color in everybody’s work … so you get this sense of the landscape of Vermont in the summer. I get that feeling from it.”
The art will be on display at the Gallery in the Field until Sept. 1. For hours and directions visit www.galleryinthefield.com.
 Reporter Ian Trombulak is at [email protected].

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