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A Painter Works en Plein Air, and You're Invited

State of the Arts


Published June 2, 2010 at 7:50 a.m.


To those who cannot paint or draw, the process can seem a bit like sorcery. An artist hidden away in a studio casts a kind of visual spell, and some time later a work of art appears, hanging on a gallery wall.

Abstract painter Todd Sargood has always wanted to bring the process out in the open, so next week at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, he’ll do just that: use pens and paints to cover some 80 feet of wall with a new work of art, and invite the public to watch.

“I just want to kind of pull away some of the mystique about what artists really do,” Sargood says, “to show that there is frustration, that things go well and then they don’t, that you run out of pencils — the nitty-gritty.”

The live painting event is part of Sargood’s solo show of paintings, entitled “Complex_simplex.” The artist, who lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, overlays different media — ballpoint pen, oil paints and watercolors — to create sprawling, tangled maps of cultural collisions.

“These lines are metaphors for interactions,” he says. “From what goes on in a petri dish to larger human interactions in cities and towns.”

The plan for Helen Day is simply to show up with his materials, prepare the wall and see what happens. He anticipates feeling a bit self-consious at first. But Sargood is also interested in creating a more visceral experience than art lovers usually get in the gallery.

“I go to a music concert, and it’s such an immediate thing,” he says. “The music is pounding in my chest, and it gets kind of burned into your memory. People don’t usually have that level of engagement with the visual arts.”

Nor do we get to ask questions of musicians as they’re performing, but that’s exactly what Sargood will invite his “audience” to do.

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