Winter can draw out appreciation for the pale palette of the season or inspire yearning for brilliant and lively color. Two new central Vermont exhibitions nurture these seasonal predilections. “Mostly White: Paintings by Kathy Stark” at Axel’s Gallery in Waterbury runs to Feb. 17. With finely wrought pattern, texture and subtle color, Stark’s mixed media paintings bring viewers into their light expanses. “Show 23” at The Front in Montpelier showcases the latest works of the gallery’s contemporary artist members and features a trio of bright dynamic works by guest artist Jeanne Thurston. “In this white/gray, cold time of the year, there is something warm and comforting to the ‘Mostly White’ series of paintings by Kathy Stark,” said Whitney Aldrich owner of Axel’s Gallery. “It may be the predictability of pattern, the subtle shifts of color or the delicate change in texture of collage that brings warmth to her palette and canvas.” Stark, who lives in Craftbury Common, builds up and manipulates layers of paint and paper in this “Mostly White” series. In several works, she uses a narrow rectangular block tool she fabricated to create a linear pattern. Besides the depth and layers of acrylic paint, she also works the surface with pencil, ink, oil pastel, collage materials and scraping tools. In “Quiet Times Begin to Take Up More Space,” patterned bands stretch across the wood panel. Stark’s layers of paint and texture evoke a sense of peering through falling snow and the quiet that accompanies it, as sound seems absorbed by the flakes. Up close, the viewer sees the fine lines, depth and delicate use of color. “I do not see a distinct boundary between painting and drawing. As I continue to explore patterning I work with a variety of art materials,” Stark says in her artist’s statement. “I see my work as intuitive, a process that is both planned and spontaneous. Each new body of work is an outgrowth of previous work with current ideas, thoughts, and experiences incorporated.” At The Front, “Show 23” brings together new work by the gallery’s member artists and three works by Jeanne Thurston. Her paintings are all three-dimensional color field art, artworks with geometric faces of color that change with the viewer’s movement or position. Thurston paints her bands of color on faces of sets of angled structures. In “Water,” from one perspective, bands of dark blue lead to lighter color, like still deep water and shafts of light. From another perspective, blues, greens, lavenders recall the lively range of color in moving waters. Thurston’s “Yellow” ranges from daffodil and pale yellows to tangerine and amber. In her artist’s statement, Thurston traces her fascination with color and movement to train travels through the west. After her art studies at the University of Colorado, specializing in lithography, when she traveled by train she was struck by the changes with movement. “My paintings are a way to recreate this joy, to share it and provide an opportunity for others to explore this same wonder. Color movement can be discovered in so many places – I’ve found it in lichen on rocks on 14,000-foot mountains in the Rockies, in the curving reds of sandstone landscapes in the Southwest, and in bright green transmission fluid leaking on the ground in a mechanic's shop,” Thurston explains. The curatorial team at The Front extends Thurston’s palette through its thoughtful arrangement of members’ artwork. Thurston’s “Yellow” leads to Deluxe Unlimited’s “Hostage” with its saffron background and TV cowboy, and Hasso Ewing’s creamy stoneware bust “Wes.” The blues of Thurston’s “Water” connect to Chris Jeffrey’s untitled wire painting – another work that changes with a viewer’s slightest movement. Light blue, recalling perhaps water or sky, encircles interior rings of “Here and Now” by Michelle Lesnak in collaboration with Anna Sarquiz and Renee Roberts.   Axel’s Gallery & Frame Shop Axel's Gallery & Frame Shop presents “Mostly White: Painting by Kathy Stark,” through Feb. 17, in Waterbury at 5 Stowe St. Hours are: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; call 802-244-7801, or go online to The Front Gallery The Front Gallery presents “Show 23,” through Feb 24 in Montpelier at 6 Barre St. Hours are: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, or by appointment; go online to A Montpelier Art Walk reception will be held, 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2

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