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Small Wonders

Art Review

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EXHIBIT:"Small Pictures Exhibition," the 8th annual members' show. Bryan Memorial Gallery, Jeffersonville. Through November 20.

ARTWORK: "Lunch Together" by Chris Ford aq

One nice thing about small artworks is that you can squeeze a lot of them into a room. The 8th annual "Small Pictures Exhibition" at the Bryan Memorial Gallery illustrates this by presenting nearly 250 mini -- though not minor -- works in one wing. With all the art at or under the size restriction of 16 by 20 inches, the show confirms the wisdom of the phrase "small is beautiful."

Like all exhibits at the Jeffersonville venue, this one is dominated by painting but includes other media. One of the strongest works is an 8-by-10-inch photograph by Andrea Powell, entitled "Black Mountain Farm Tractor." Its colors are muted: silver and gray with a few red details on the ag implements. Powell may have tinted the photo by hand, but that isn't stated. Either way, her varied values, offset by punctuating passages of a warmer hue, give the old tractor an eloquent presence.

Printmaking is represented here by several pieces, executed in an array of techniques. Steve Fuller's vertical composition "Sunflowers 2" is a 6-by-4-inch woodblock print delicately tinted with watercolor. White lines of negative space separate each area of color, just as lines of lead separate pieces of stained glass. Fuller's image of a vase of flowers, a piece of fruit and a wine bottle is astutely described in complementary purples and yellows. The result is highly decorative.

The 4-by-5-inch etching entitled "Salad" by Alice Eckles is more abstract and employs fewer, though richer, hues. She drew an active jumble of blacks, grays and whites from the point of view of looking downward into the bowl. A few strategically placed reds and orange -- abstracted tomatoes and carrots -- enliven the image.

While all of the artworks in the "Small Pictures Exhibition" are small, a few are not actually pictures, but three-dimensional pieces. An untitled sleeping female nude by Renee Korst is crafted from white terra cotta and is expressive rather than wholly naturalistic.

Joan Danforth's ceramic vessels are inspired by Japanese forms, and their surface colors range from rusty reds to grays and blue-black. Danforth also presents a wall-mounted tile piece that is essentially a small triptych: a square tile in the center and vertical rectangles at each end. A black, hill-like shape rolls across all three sections, while a foggy rose hue appears along the upper edge.

Among the more than 200 paintings in the show are plenty of gems. Robert Waldo Brunelle, Jr.'s Hopper-esque buildings and cityscapes are certainly his best works, as "Castle in the Sky" demonstrates. The adeptly painted 8-by-7-inch acrylic has nicely varied gray details within the trim of the foreground building and in a distant Victorian house, sited on a lush hill beneath a cerulean blue sky.

Dorothy Martinez has provided several abstract landscapes. Her "Victory Bog" has the colors of a J. M. W. Turner and the brushwork -- or is it all palette knife? -- of a Corot. The 8-by-10-inch painting has a fiery scarlet foreground in the lower third of the image, with rolling cumulus clouds rushing through the sky. Martinez is an accomplished abstractionist, but reveals her landscapist roots in this show.

The Bryan Memorial Gallery thrives on presenting accessible works by accomplished artists -- generally members of the gallery and/or the Northern Vermont Artists Association. The NVAA is one of oldest arts organizations in the state, and its affiliation with the gallery is a win-win for both entities. The "Small Pictures Exhibition" shows why.

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