New England Biennial 2012

November 2, 2012 - March 1, 2013

Click here for a slideshow of selected images from this exhibit.

Read Art New England’s review of this exhibit.

As BMAC’s chief curator I travel throughout New England, make regular trips to New York City, peruse the art publications, and still find it impossible to keep up with all the artists working in our region.

Eight years ago we launched In the Zone, a triennial juried exhibit open to artists living within 75 miles of Brattleboro. Our twist on the usual format for juried exhibits was to have a nationally recognized juror select only 10-12 artists for exhibition, which allowed us to showcase each artist’s work in some depth. The positive response from artists and viewers alike was such that this year we expanded the “zone” to include all six New England states, and we now plan to produce the exhibit every two years, hence the new title.

One benefit of these changes is that we have had the pleasure of getting acquainted with the work of the nearly 400 artists — from Greenwich, Connecticut, to Orono, Maine — who sent in work for consideration. Many were previously unknown to us, and it is likely that their work will find its way into our galleries in the years to come.

— Mara Williams, Chief Curator

Juror’s Statement
Notes and Impressions on Thirteen
While Looking at Nearly Four Hundred

“What you see is what you see.” — Frank Stella

For me, the occasion of judging the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center’s New England Biennial 2012 was a welcome and stimulating event. With nearly 400 submissions, I quickly became aware that I was being introduced to many works of art from professional artists previously unknown to me. It was also apparent that the work I was seeing, and therefore the direction of my selections, was going to be very different from what I had expected, and from my general art interest.

The 13 artists chosen for the exhibition present a wide variety of images, materials, and subject matter. Early on, I realized that diverse, strong images were speaking up loudly for themselves and assembling into distinct categories, as if for individual exhibitions. While the work of some artists revealed a singular vision, other submissions seemed to refer to themes. Water was a dominant one — both as pure image and in the service of a more pointed environmental statement. The museum’s multiple and varied galleries offer a very welcoming environment for these artists and their diverse works.

The wave-like motion of Christine Destrempes’s installation was as mesmerizing as watching the continual rhythm of the ocean itself. I followed the wave from one end to the other, intermittently pausing to focus on a particular area of collage that was intriguing, and noticed the calligraphic message that the artist was detailing.

The colorful beauty and subtle motion of Robert Steinem’s water images continue the water theme. They become a painterly, rhythmic abstraction. High-key colors and complementary lights and darks add counterpoint and movement to the compositions.

Roslyn Meyer offers an additional creative vision to the water theme. Color and pattern rule the imagery. The image transmutes as it passes through the water and morphs into the artist’s own otherworldly vision.

The compelling, intriguing work of Jason Travers offers a place to rest and ask, “What is the subject?” The subtle line where the rectangles make contact, or almost make contact, leaves the viewer pondering, with a meditative afterthought.

The interplay of weight, movement, and air, suspended in space and yet rooted to the earth — William Brayton creates a remarkable balance between energy and stasis, line and volume, content and abstraction.

Marjorie Forte’s work compels me to pause and reflect on the uniqueness of these creative persons and their individual visions. Here is another artist accumulating objects to enlarge her vision — installation and intimacy, poems without words.

My life mentor, Giorgio Morandi, would have had a bemused smile when he saw Denis Versweyveld‘s soft-focus vessels, inanimate objects, attempting to make contact with one another. These objects have a life of their own. Their subtle diffusion bears intrigue and monumentality. (Perhaps, for those not getting this artist’s intent, the very subtle advice of Morandi might help: Sempre guardare — keep looking.)

I was still with the quietude of Denis Versweyveld’s and Jason Travers’s work when I encountered Kathryn Lipke Vigesaa’s cacophonous horns, themselves objects of beauty, and then her water images, a return to that theme. A bravura performance.

Intriguing, Greg Mencoff’s submission has its own voice. Unique, bizarre, beautifully crafted, and imaginative composition of diverse materials equals art.

When I saw JoAnne Russo’s objects, I realized a theme was developing along with Mencoff’s work. Creative individuals will find their own path and in their own time (Buddhist thought). What are these things, and why are they so compelling?

There was no sign saying “Beware of these objects!”— but there might have been. Michael Donovan’s objects are puzzling. Initially they say, “Stand back,” but then they invite you in, to explore their content. The installation and theme of unique objects continues and unfolds.

Alice in Wonderland? Certainly a wonderland — a journey down Lynn Richardson’s own, wonder-filled, glacial rabbit hole where shapes, light, and color confuse and bemuse.

When Bénédicte Lassalle’s first photographic image came on the screen, it immediately caught my attention. I was seeing something very creative as to subject matter, composition, and color. No narrative was necessary — I immediately got the story with its emotional intent. The rigor of the compositions lends strength and clarity to the artist’s vision and humanity in producing The Coming Out Project.

The jurying experience was made especially enlightening and enjoyable because of the gracious hospitality extended to my co-judge, Cynthia Grif?n, and me by Mara Williams, Danny Lichtenfeld, the museum staff, and the board members we met. My thanks to all for letting us share the warmth and friendship of the Brattleboro community.

— Stephen Haller, Juror

Greg Mencoff’s work is on loan courtesy of Carroll and Sons, Boston, and Roslyn Meyer’s work is on loan from Denise Bibro Fine Art, New York. All other works in this exhibit are on loan courtesy of the artists.

New England Biennial 2012 is generously sponsored by People’s United Bank.