From Luminous Shade

October 28, 2016 - January 8, 2017

From Luminous Shade is a moving testament to the restorative power of art. Three artists mourn the untimely passing of their sons: Vermont painter Margaret Kannenstine, Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti, and poet and translator Ann McGarrell. We journey with them from their numbing plunge into despair, through the dark months, and finally into sunlight. Kannenstine’s dramatic landscapes, reflecting a year’s seasonal change, are coupled with Ungaretti’s poems in McGarrell’s translated interpretation, delicately exploring the depths of his love and loss.

To grieve publicly is a courageous act. These artists have peeled away a protective layer to share their very private wells of despair. Healing comes slowly. Through painting and poetry, Kannenstine, McGarrell, and Ungaretti reach out to the world and its vast pool of empathy. Who has not felt loss? As we are drawn in to share their experience, our burdens too are lightened.

Kannenstine’s journey began on her son’s final birthday, Election Day 2008—“the last day I remember feeling joy.” But however bereft, she wills herself to return to her studio and painting. The familiar landscapes she has drawn and painted for many seasons now become markers for the seasons of the heart. Nature cooperates, as winter steals colors and dims the light. Kannenstine paints a tangled orchard engulfed in ice outside her window, and our poets intone “and I love you, love you, and I go on shattered.”

In Winter Moon, the lunar sentinel (perhaps a frozen heart) illuminates a frigid landscape broken only by the barely perceptible interior glow from a lonely house—isolated, cold, dark. Two other paintings, Night Near Randolph and Northern Lights, reveal otherworldly happenings, as if, above the dark barrier of the hills, the artist’s emotions were spread across the sky. These visions are poignantly coupled with Ungaretti’s verse,

…. And I go on talking, I work.
I’ve hardly changed at all, I’m scared, I smoke…
How can I bear the weight of so much night?”

Slowly, slowly, as spring brings thawing, so Kannenstine seems to breathe deeply and share in some of the season’s giddiness—glorious light-drenched flowering trees, cut flowers in jugs, and now a beckoning golden landscape. Renewal has begun.

And our poets observe,

Star, my unique star,
in the poverty of night, alone,
only for me you shine;
but for me, star,
whose light will never leave me,
your time is brief, you
bestow on me a light
my desperation
hones.

— Linda Rubinstein, Guest Essayist

RELATED EVENTS:
October 28, Friday, 5:30 p.m. – Opening of Five New Exhibits
November 13, Sunday, 2 p.m. – Artist Talk: Margaret Lampe Kannenstine

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Margaret Lampe Kannenstine’s paintings and works on paper involve intense color. Shown widely, they are held in corporate, private, and museum collections. A resident of Woodstock, Vermont, Kannenstine is a state, regional, and national leader of the creative community and in 2008 received the “Distinguished Public Service Award” from the National Assembly of State Art Agencies. Her adult son, David, died in 2009.

Ann McGarrell (1933–2016) was a poet and translator who lived in Vermont and Umbria, Italy. Her poetry and articles have been published in Europe and the United States. She has written a memoir of her son, Flo, killed in the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888–1970) has been called “the purest voice of twentieth century Italian poetry.” The poems in this exhibit are from his collection Il Dolore (sorrow), written after the death of his nine-year-old son.

Biographical information excerpted from the book From Luminous Shade, copyright 2011 by Harbor Mountain Press, Brownsville, Vermont, harbormoutainpress.org