Monthly Planet | Art Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Arts + Life » Art Review

Monthly Planet

Art Review


Published May 25, 2005 at 4:00 a.m.

EXHIBIT: "New Works in Glass and Metal" by Terry Zigmund; "Grey Matter," photographs by Gina D'Amico; Oil paintings by Brian Hunter; "Symbols," mixed-media paintings by Jenel Wildermuth. Daily Planet, Burlington. Through May.

ARTWORK: "Sushi" by Jenel Wildermuth

Now in its third decade of serving as both a restaurant and a gallery, the Daily Planet on Center Street is downtown Burlington's longest-running café-art venue. Considering it usually hosts three shows a month, the place has probably accommodated a record number of artists as well. As usual, three different shows are featured this month -- in the solarium, the restaurant and the bar. In addition, a fourth artist, Terry Zigmund, is displaying stained-glass works hung on the six-pane window between the solarium and restaurant. They're best viewed from the solarium.

Zigmund is a well-established glass artist, and her "New Works in Glass and Metal" is an exhibit of three abstract stained-glass panels. Each is a vertical composition with Mondrian-like borders and an organic central form that branches and blossoms into shapes that suggest buds and leaves. Two of the pieces have emerald green accents and the third a deep ruby-red form. Zigmund uses a variety of textures as well as hues in her designs.

Gina D'Amico's 14 black-and-white photographs in the solarium are collectively entitled "Grey Matter." This show of well-composed, untitled photos focuses primarily on outdoor subjects, rather than studio work. Daylight provides the shadows. Among the images are a gargoyle overlooking a city vista and a semicircular arrangement of benches in a snowy park. Lines and curves in the benches restate linear forms found in the background trees. D'Amico's subjects include figures and the patterns and rhythms of urban life.

Ten oil landscape-paintings by Brian Hunter are in the Planet's dining room this month. Hunter is a realist, whose traditional style captures the beauty of rural Vermont. Many of his canvasses are horizontal rectangles of the sort produced by a panoramic disposable camera. In "Old Farm Barn," the rural architecture is grouped on the right side of his rectangle, while the shadows of midday darken the barn's foreground.

In the thin horizontal landscape "Fall's Triumph," the composition is also activated by a creative use of light. Browns and dull greens ramble over hills, while a cluster of bright orange hardwoods in the right side of the image is singularly illuminated by a break in the clouds. Hunter's use of subtle sunlight, and rectangular picture planes, adds personality to his otherwise conservative works.

The landscape pictured in Jenel Wildermuth's "Goat on a Farm" seems to come from a completely different universe than Hunter's. It too is a horizontal composition with rolling hills in the background, but Wildermuth's colors are wilder -- indeed, her "Symbols" show of 15 mixed-media paintings in the bar constitutes the most playful Daily Planet art this month. "Sushi," for example, shows a pair of line-drawn fish on a blue-and-white field of traditional Japanese wave patterns. Red circles in the corners are an irreverent reference to Japan's flag.

"The Equine" is similarly iconographic. References to Matisse seem to be everywhere these days, and "The Equine's" contour-line horse on a matrix of patterns and just three colors recalls the later, decorative phase of the old Fauve's works.

But Wildermuth is also quite inventive in her own right. "Egyptian Coyote" is a cartoonish white animal on a gray background, crowded by the classical-geometric-swirl pattern common to Greece and Hellenistic Egypt. The patterning is chaotically painted in turquoise, mauve, olive green and ultramarine blue behind the coyote, and in gray on the coyote's coat.

If the art seems to come from several different worlds, or at least reflects wildly different aesthetic approaches, it's a tribute to the diverse tastes of the Daily Planet's eclectic curators. Both "emerging" and established artists have put up some great shows in this ever-changing venue over the years.