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Pop-Up Returns in Winooski

State of the Arts

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When Winooski cheerleaders and arts advocates Ric Kasini Kadour and Jodi Harrington joined forces last year to transform five long-vacant storefronts on the traffic circle into contemporary art galleries, they awakened an art beast in the Onion City — and it was all the more tragic when those storefronts (with the exception of the Winooski Welcome Center) emptied out again at the end of the summer.

Well, Winooski has popped again! The five galleries that make up this year’s district opened at a lively reception last week.

The über-cool, Montréal-based drawing collective En Masse got the party started last Friday in the Front Porch Forum Gallery. Four illustrators hauled in buckets of black paint and spent the opening reception — and the next few days — painting street-art-style imagery all over a 4-foot cube, which is now suspended from the gallery ceiling. Around them hang the haunting paintings of Marc Awodey and dreamlike drawings of tree houses growing out of a girl’s hair by Gowri Savoor. And then there’s Phil Whitman, a Barre artist with an obsession: the outcropping of boulders known as Devil’s Den on the Gettysburg battlefield. He scours the internet for photos of tourists posing — often in exactly the same stance — under the suspended boulders. Then Whitman re-creates the photos in paint, making one simple, and hilarious, change: He removes the tourists’ clothes.

A few doors down at the Opportunities Credit Union Gallery, Amy Rahn curated an exhibit called “Open House,” in which she explores how we distinguish between house and home.

Front and center is the work of Angelo Arnold, who takes apart and reassembles furniture, creating floral-upholstered chairs that look as though they would chew up anyone who dared to sit in them. Mary Zompetti’s photographic series — one exploring the interior of her Burlington home and the other of her hotel room during a visit to Iceland — are hung side by side. Both are characterized by rumpled blankets and sheets and bright morning light, raising the question, what makes one home and the other not?

Take a seat on a real couch arranged in front of two TV screens to watch the simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny and poignant video installations of Kate Brandt. In one, a man clumsily attempts to carry a woman over the threshold into their house. He keeps dropping her, so she tries to lift his hulking body over her own — to no avail. In the other video, the same man stands behind the woman as she cooks, his hands on hers as she mixes ingredients and reaches for measuring cups.

Head around the corner to the Energy Co-op of Vermont Gallery and the first thing you’ll notice is the smell: distinctly hamster cage. Likely responsible is Riki Moss’ “The Paper Forest,” an installation and sound-art piece made of pressed abaca-paper sculptures. Some pieces look like petrified trees, others like the sun-shriveled carcasses of small animals. Other environmentally minded artwork, by Janet Van Fleet, Cami Davis, Janet Fredericks, Emiko Sawaragi Gilbert and Linda E. Jones, is seamlessly arranged around it.

Finally, up in the Winooski Welcome Center and Preci Gallery, which has been showing art regularly since December, you’ll find “Hello From Vermont,” a group show featuring the work of 29 more artists. Should be enough to keep art lovers busy through the Pop-Up Gallery District’s last day, August 4.

Winooski Pop-Up Gallery District. Through August 4. winooskiwelcomecenter.com/market

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