There are two art shows over the next two weekends full of work by people you may know. Between a collection from students in nearby schools and a group exhibition of longtime Vermont artists, it’s an easy way to see some great museums, the muse in many forms and some artistic visions of the beautiful area we call home.
Students of Slate Valley
The 30-mile radius that straddles the Vermont-New York border encompasses the slate vein. The segment from Salem, New York, to Castleton is known as Slate Valley, and if you didn’t know we were part of it, neither did I until recently.
Last week, I took a ride over to Granville, New York, to see some high school students working on art pieces for the upcoming “Artists of the Slate Valley” student art show hosted by the Slate Valley Museum.
It’s a nice ride over, just down Route 30. I walked into a classroom of about a dozen students seated at round tables, quietly working on pieces for the show, which centers on work inspired by slate and living in the region. An opening reception will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, and the show will run until Feb. 28 at Slate Valley Museum at 17 Water St.
“As of today we have (11) schools,” said Krista Rupe, executive director of Slate Valley Museum.
In Vermont, those include Poultney High School, Poultney Elementary School, Burr and Burton Academy, Castleton Elementary School and Middletown Springs Elementary School.
“It’s been a great collaboration with the community schools,” Rupe said. “It’s important to provide students with a place to put their art on the walls and have a proper opening.”
Including so many schools meant all kinds of interpretations. Middletown Springs students visited cemeteries and made murals inspired by slate tombstones. Several Granville students were painting right on pieces of slate.
Torrey Amaral, 17, had a piece the size of a hardcover book, flush with fresh paint depicting a colorful sky and snow-covered mountain.
“I called it ‘Sunrise Over Slate Valley,’” Amaral said. “The sky is my favorite color.”
Next to her, senior Nicholas Andrus’ slate was blank.
“I’m still in the process,” Andrus said, and pulled out a phone with photos of friends jumping into the Dorset Quarry. “My friends and I travel to cliff jumping spots over the summer and I took photos. I’m going to put a collage of them on here and then put a clear coat over it.”
He credits his art teacher, Mikenzie Monroe, for getting him interested in art.
“The art teachers throughout the community are very talented,” Rupe said. “I’ve taught at museums, family programs at the Met and the Guggenheim. I have a real passion for it, and that’s why I started this show four years ago.”
Hours: 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; admission is $5 (12 and younger free); call 518-642-1417, or go online to www.slatevalleymuseum.org.
EMMA at the Chaffee
“It’s easy to depend on a muse or inspiration to have motivation to produce artwork,” artist Christine Holzschuh said, sitting in a downstairs room at the Chaffee Art Center last week. “Well, the truth is that like any other occupation, you have to do it even when you don’t feel like it. And because you’re working by yourself, you have to come up with your own set of parameters of how you’re going to do what you’re going to do.”
Holzschuh started the Rutland area artists group East Mountain Mentoring Artists (EMMA) several years ago. She asked a dozen or so artist friends to meet regularly at her home in East Mountain to support each other and the art community at large, in part because of the statement above.
“I turn on music, lay out my palette,” she said. “And I decide before I get there what it is I’m going to paint. If you don’t set up that kind of structure for yourself it’s easy to be lost about how to get started.”
Eight of the 10 current members of EMMA are presenting new work in a show at the Chaffee, 16 S. Main St. in Rutland, called “Winter Wonderland,” which opens Friday, Jan. 25 with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m.
“These artists continue to produce new artwork; they figured out how to do that,” Holzschuh said. “There’s a lot of really good artists that struggle with that.”
The downstairs rooms at the museum will house the EMMA artists’ work, which includes watercolor, acrylic, wood, oil paintings, sculptures, ceramics, pastels, colored pencils and chalk.
“We have a lot of different types of artists,” Holzschuh said, adding that each medium and style presents an idea in its own way.
“A painting tells a different story than a photo,” she said. “A photo can be a jumping off point. Seeing artwork does something really special to the viewer; it’ll feed you something. If you spend a little time (with) pieces that appeal to you, it will change you.”
Hours are: noon to 5 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; call 802-775-0356, or go online to www.chaffeecenter.org.