EXHIBIT:"The Passage of Time," a group show resulting from an open call on the theme. Main Gallery, T.W. Wood Gallery, Montpelier. Through July 23.
ARTWORK:"Rorschach Landscapes" by Phil Robertson
Last spring the T.W. Wood Gallery in Montpelier invited artists to submit mixed-media works that were 24 inches square and interpreted a specific subject: the passage of time. Though it sounds complicated, the solicitation resulted in a perfectly accessible summertime show. "The Passage of Time" comprises 27 well-executed pieces by 20 Vermont artists -- including a few landscape paintings that managed to sneak in. No heavy intellectual lifting is required to enjoy this exhibit; it's like a beach book on vacation.
Arthur and Ann Schaller, a married couple from Northfield, both utilize festive, vibrant colors in their pieces. Arthur teaches architecture at Vermont's Norwich University, yet he pokes fun at the military with his "Ancient Tricksters Plan the Future, Again & Again." In it, a row of seven military leaders are gaudily decorated with medals, their faces covered with collaged scraps of bright paper. A strip of map borders the bottom of the red-framed shadow box, along with a metric ruler, marked in centimeters.
Ann's "Earth Time" is an assemblage of baubles, such as star-shaped buttons, coins and small pictures, comprising an evening landscape; this in turn is covered by a diagonal grid of yellow string.
Gerson and Suzy Markowitt of Warren are another artist-couple in the show, and both present mostly white abstractions. Suzy's "Timeline" is the more geometric; a loopy white thread moves across a central cream-colored, textural band with straight edges, while a Slinky is stretched across a lower band of black fabric. A thin black ribbon with white stitching runs horizontally near the top of the piece. Gerson's "Journey" is amoeba-like, an irregularly shaped tangle of colored threads and lines floating on a textured white background.
"Rorschach Landscapes" by Hardwick resident Phil Robertson, a former director of the Wood Gallery who now works at Goddard College, is actually made up of four 12-by-12-inch panels. They appear to have been blocks for woodcuts. The blocks are book-matched -- the right and left sides are mirror images of each other -- and contain text. If printed, the words on the left side would read properly because the text is cut backwards. The blocks at right, however, would print backwards because they read properly to the viewer in this form. Robertson's texts are two poems about seasonal change from summer to autumn; leafy landscapes, cut in short, rhythmic, diagonal scoops, accompany the poems.
Text also figures prominently in the submission from Roxbury collagist Jane Pincus. Hers, too, is poetry, noted in the piece's title as "Theodore Roethke's Walking." To the left of blue and lavender vertical strips of color, Pincus collaged lines of the poetry, which read from the bottom up. The first is "I wake to sleep and take my walking slow" along the lower left corner of the image. Nineteen lines arranged into six stanzas rise to the top of the left side.
TheWood Gallery removed its central partitions to install "The Passage of Time," so the gallery space is completely opened up. On hot days, the itslarge doors are also thrown open to coax in fresh breezes from the Vermont College green. Thus laid out, the gallery is an inviting space for kids attending "art camp," as well as for visitors of all ages to pass their time, enjoying the show.