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New gallery to exhibit experimental artwork

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury artist Rachel Baird has always dreamed of running her own gallery in which to exhibit inspiring examples of modern and experimental art.
Her dream will officially come true this Friday, July 13, when ZoneThree Gallery marks its grand opening in Middlebury’s Marble Works district with an exhibit featuring paintings by Whiting-based artist Graziella Weber-Grassi.
And here’s the best part: ZoneThree is literally located outside the front door of her spacious apartment on the third floor of 152 Maple St. There, in a common area shared with chiropractor Elizabeth Davidson, Baird will display ZoneThree’s regular exhibits, to rotate on a monthly basis.
Another gallery recently opened up in Middlebury. To read more about it click here.
Publicity material for Weber-Grassi’s show describes it as “a stark post-apocalyptic projection of mid-century modern desolation.”ZoneThree’s wall space will spill over into Baird’s 1,800-square-foot apartment for show openings an other special events. Such will be the case on July 13, when Baird will serve snacks and host a jazz pianist to serenade visitors as they view Weber-Grassi’s exhibit, already on display, titled “Lonely Interiors.” The colorful paintings depict retro 1950s-style chairs in modestly furnished rooms devoid of people, imparting an ironic sense of wonderment and loneliness.
“I’m really happy,” Weber-Grassi said of becoming the first artist to exhibit at ZoneThree. The native of Switzerland lived in New York prior to moving to Whiting six years ago. “Rachel and I have become really good friends.”
Baird has made a nice splash in the Addison County’s arts community in a relatively short period of time. She co-founded the Middlebury Arts Walk four years ago. The Arts Walk, which takes place the second Friday of each month (including this Friday) through October from 5 to 7 p.m., celebrates local artwork on display in Middlebury restaurants, businesses, galleries, studios and other public venues. Stores will remain open, becoming galleries displaying the work of dozens of area artists.
Baird acknowledged that Middlebury has a strong, budding arts community enhanced by Middlebury College, the Town Hall Theater and a host of individual artists who are producing stellar work depicting the natural beauty of Vermont. But something, she said, was missing.
“I’ve been seeing that modern art has been a bit under-represented in Middlebury in general,” she said.
And modern art is Baird’s passion. Adorning her apartment walls are examples of her work, inspired by such abstract impressionists as Mark Rothco and Wassily Kandinski. Her paintings feature a saturation of colors into shapes that create a depth of field. If looked upon intently, the paintings impart the illusion of movement.
“I am a kinetic artist,” she said.
Baird had maintained an art studio in the Kubota Building at the Marble Works for almost five years. When the apartment at 152 Maple St. opened up, she saw an opportunity to relocate her home and workspace and offer a new venture in which to display the work of others in her field.
She quickly got consent from Davidson to use the communal wall space for the display of artwork.
And ZoneThree won’t just stick with visual arts.
Local poetry will be on display after Weber-Grassi’s exhibit ends Aug. 3. During August Baird will be curating a “word installation” — an art show of words — through which poems will be blown up, interconnected, and displayed throughout town, including at ZoneThree. At the same time, Baird is producing a short film called “WordSpeak” that will be aired at the gallery, on Middlebury Community Television and on YouTube. The film will focus on the mouths of poets talking about words and reciting their own poetry.
In September, ZoneThree will feature cardboard art and 10-minute plays by artist and children’s book author Frank Asch of Middletown Springs.
Baird has extended an invitation to Hinesburg-based artist Deborah Allen to display examples of her fiber prayer flags at ZoneThree in October. This exhibit would coincide with the His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s scheduled visit to Middlebury College.
Baird hopes to maintain public interest with an eclectic array of exhibits.
“We would like this to be a very successful gallery, but my main goal is to make art more interactive,” said Baird, who expects her website, www.zonethreegallery.com, to be online within the next few days.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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