Art Review: “Summer Group Show: Local Artists,” Feick Fine Arts Center, Green Mountain College, Poultney. Through August 28.
“The Nest” by Warren Kimble
A modest group exhibition at Feick Fine Arts Center, on the campus of Green Mountain College, appears through August 28 in the scenic town of Poultney. The show is unpretentiously called “Summer Group Show: Local Artists” — akin to “VFW Ham Supper” or “Pancake Breakfast” — but it does offer a few surprises. Among the local artists are the ever-popular Warren Kimble of Brandon, two strong watercolorists, photographer Fred Michel, and ceramicists Liza Myers and the couple behind Rising Meadow Pottery.
Michel supplies large-scale color photos. “Cape Cod” is a shimmering, lavender dawn landscape. A broad salt marsh merges with the tide to create a horizon line, broken by a few spindly trees as the much-needed vertical elements. Closer to home, “Wallingford, Vermont” focuses on a mountain waterfall. The rapids tumble in a gentle “S” curve between boulders.
The same sort of curvy compositional device appears in the painting “Wild Flower Farm” by Peter Huntoon. The large watercolor has rich hues, particularly a nice crimson in the foreground that grows more washy as the serpentine row of flowers recedes in space. The other watercolorist in the exhibition is a former elementary school art teacher, octogenarian Margaret Stringer, from the village of Wells. Her “Dramatic Pastoral” depicts a sloping English barn surrounded by vegetation, with a dirt road and barbed-wire fence running in front of it. Stringer’s use of olive green and sienna is quite original and effective. Her cloudy sky has a slight purple cast, setting up a sophisticated triadic harmony.
Myers’ wall-mounted ceramics are sometimes playfully allegorical. “Geology” is an irregularly shaped rectangular work with an abstract female form in the foreground. The woman’s arms embrace a partial sphere in high relief, and fossile-like impressions of shells and stones appear. Myers polychromed her ceramics, painting as well as glazing the pieces. “Canyon Cleft II” also has impressed, carved and sculpted components. A violet flower and green leaves are built onto an abstract brown crevasse.
Rising Meadow Pottery is the married team of Diane Rosenmiller and Nicholas Seidner. Like many potters, they are influenced by Japanese forms, but the environment around their Middletown Springs studio and kiln is equally important. Rosenmiller specifically cites her “love of gardening” as a source of inspiration, and vines and leaves appear on her ceramics. Seidner uses local raw materials in his glazes.
Warren Kimble is a fascinating, popular Vermont artist who often defies his own reputation for stereotypical faux-folk art. A powerful suite of his antiwar prints has appeared at Brandon’s Gallery in-the-Field and the Shelburne Museum in recent years, and in this exhibition, Kimble presents work that’s more textural and abstract than might be expected. “Sun” and “Let the Sun Shine II” are small, highly textured acrylics, each centered on a minimal yellow solar disk. They’re like rural Pop Art, presenting earthy colors rather than blaring supermarket hues. “Sun” is the brighter of the two, with a mottled red background. Two monochromatic high-relief acrylics, “Keys #1” and “Keys #2,” are equally simple. Keys were pressed into the paint to make impressions, and the textures are highlighted with scumbling over the indentations.
Kimble’s “The Nest” is the largest piece in the show. It seems nonobjective at first, like an abstract expressionist yellow color field marked by slashing red strokes, dark drips and dabs, and a few blues and greens. But in fact, Kimble has produced the image of a hen on her nest that comes into focus when the viewer steps back. The painting’s vivid colors and opulent mark making are more important than the deceptively simple narrative of a chicken.
Likewise, the simple title of this Feick show doesn’t quite do it justice.