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Branching Out

Art Review: “Trees,” Bryan Memorial Gallery


Published November 23, 2011 at 8:13 a.m.

“Big River’s Edge” by Adrien “Yellow” Patenaude
  • “Big River’s Edge” by Adrien “Yellow” Patenaude

A new forest has sprouted in Jeffersonville, and it offers more color than the usual foliage season. Simply titled “Trees,” the juried members’ exhibition at Bryan Memorial Gallery is alive with deciduous foliage and conifers. Nearly 200 pieces by 65 artists appear in the show.

Though this is an exhibit of 2-D works, Theresa Tinker Martell’s untitled hanging triptych seems to have greater dimension. Three strips of painted canvas, hung from small branches, combine to resemble a large tree trunk. The central vertical strip is five feet long, the two strips on either side four feet. The abstraction utilizes the colors of nature, primarily browns and green. The work is more like an object than a painting.

Adrien “Yellow” Patenaude adopts the hue as his middle name because of his penchant for using it in his work. The colorful artist, a fine painter, is reported to sport a yellow beret. His “Big River’s Edge” is a simplified vista of bands of color: just two blues in the sky, two purples in the mountains. A row of dark, nearly black trees is like a fence in the background of the 36-by-36-inch acrylic. Of course, several yellows appear in the foreground.

Another expressively colored piece is Alice Ingraham’s “Magic Banyan.” The 29-by-41-inch oil’s sinewy roots are sapphire blue with warm highlights, and the background is a patchwork of hues. Distant trees recede in aerial perspective, becoming paler in the farther space. Ingraham’s 15-by-27-inch oil “Mountainside Vista” is a more traditional landscape, overlooking a scenic view from a mountain.

Elizabeth Nelson’s 44-by-58-inch acrylic “April Stream” depicts a torrent of white water wending its way through a forest. A birch tree in the foreground is loosely painted in a cross-contour fashion, with grays and silvery white wrapping around its trunk. The forest floor is rendered in reddish browns and mossy greens. The ground is littered with damp-looking leaves.

“Apple Trees” is a more detailed, realistic painting by Nelson. The 20-by-24-inch mixed-media work has a color photograph embedded at its center that practically disappears. This, too, seems like a painting of early spring, with scant foliage and no apples in sight.

While paintings dominate the exhibition, a few photographs, prints and drawings are included. Joann DiNicola’s “Morning Mist Canopy” is a 17-by-12-inch photograph with strong contrasts in value and a limited range of hues. The trees seem nearly black, silhouetted against the morning sun, while the foliage is a subtle dark green. A patch of blue sky appears in the upper right of the composition.

Gabriel Tempesta’s “Arcadian Mist” is an impressive 22-by-30-inch charcoal drawing focused on a craggy conifer overlooking a misty vista. Tempesta employed powdered charcoal as well as other varieties, and his detail is remarkable. It’s a fine composition, with the focal point at the right of the tall, vertical piece.

Darlene A. Ratte favors fire: Her medium is collaged burnt paper tinted with watercolor. The 32-by-15-inch painting “Beauty Is Ageless” features a leafless tree with a rough trunk in late autumn. Ratte’s technique produces scruffy bark and irregular shapes that appear more naturalistic than smooth-edged cut paper would be.

This exhibit demonstrates that not all of Vermont’s “tree products” are tapped or milled. Wouldn’t it be nice to export as much artwork as we do, say, maple syrup?

“Trees,” paintings, drawings and prints by 65 juried artist members. Bryan Memorial Gallery, Jeffersonville. Through December 23.