Painter highlights Vermont pollinators

Painter Klara Calitri (pictured) really wants you to come to the opening of a show of her work at the Jackson Gallery in  Town Hall Theater this Friday. The urgency she exudes when she talks about the exhibit, called “Birds, Bees and Butterflies in the Land of Milk and Honey,” is not based in some feeling she has of her own self-importance. Not even close. The Cornwall artist wants you to come see her art, and the works of other artists that will be on display — and on sale — at the opening reception this Friday, June 8, from 5-7 p.m. because that’s when those works by the other artists will be for sale as a fundraiser for the Audubon Society.
The motivation for creating and selling these works of art is pretty simple — it’s not just to capture for future generations images of the wildlife we all enjoy today, but to fund an organization that is fighting to stop the decline of wildlife so future generations can enjoy it, too.
“I would like to have my grandchildren see some of the things that I have seen,” Calitri said. “The butterflies used to come by my house in huge clouds. They stopped doing that a few years ago.”
Calitri is a prolific artist whose work in multiple media has included painting, monotype prints, ceramics, sculpture, and more. Now 95 years old, she has spent decades creating art that is informed by her Austrian heritage and inspired by nature, filled with flowers, birds, and living things of all types. She surrounds herself with the things she loves. Her home and gardens offer a sanctuary for the pollinators and migratory flying fauna she cares about so deeply.
It is this passion that inspired Klara to propose an exhibit of art and poetry on the theme of birds, bees and butterflies. Her desire is to raise awareness for these creatures and their importance in our ecosystem, while warning of the potentially adverse effects of environmental change to their habitats. Klara invited artist friends to participate, and included a group of poets who have submitted works on the same theme. Some of the art for sale has been donated by the artists to benefit the Otter Creek Audubon Society.
Packets of milkweed seeds will be handed out to attendees of Friday’s opening reception so they can plant them on their land in support of the cause. The seeds have been graciously donated by community members.
Along with several works by Klara Calitri, the exhibit includes paintings, photographs, mixed media and cards by Rachel Elion Baird, Susan Humphrey, Lisa Calitri, Patty LeBon Herb, Sarah Wesson, Deanna Shapiro, Karla Van Vliet, Molly Hawley, Yinglei Zhang and Phoebe Stone. Poems have been contributed by Rachel Elion Baird, Lisa Calitri, Ann Cooper, Susan Jefts, Patricia LeBon Herb, Kathleen McKinley Harris, Thea Calitri-Martin, Deanna Shapiro, Karla Van Vliet and Nancy Means Wright.
The exhibit will be on display from through July 8. The Jackson Gallery is located in the lower level of Town Hall Theater, a community and cultural venue located in the center of Middlebury. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday noon to 5 p.m., and an hour before any public events in the building. More information is available at 802-382-9222 or townhalltheater.org.

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