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Looking Outward – Group Exhibition

The exhibition is created by Kelly Holt, Spruce Peak Arts Curator, and  features the work of artists: Trevor Corp, Robert Gold, Dominique Gustin, Harlan Mack, Rob Hitzig and Sean Clute & Otto Muller of the Rural Noise Ensemble.

This exhibition is in participation of 2020 Vision: Reflecting on a World-Changing Year, a statewide initiative of the Vermont Curators Group.

On view outdoors in the windows and grounds of the gallery, and by appointment indoors at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center: November 5, 2020 – February 28, 2021

Spruce Peak Arts reopens the Art Gallery for the first time since the Covid 19 pandemic with a group exhibition Looking Outward. The exhibition opens with outdoor sculpture and banners as well as two video installations and poetry viewable from the outdoors. In addition, mixed media works, photography and sculpture will be lit in the windows to view while visiting Spruce Peak.

The artists are responding to the current social, political and pandemic climate as well as finding ways to connect and be hopeful as we all navigate the future. Sean Clute adds the thought, “There is a cool air emerging from the north. A reminder that everything is in flux. And with movement is hope.” Exploring identity, connection to nature, colors, texture with an urgency to create and connect are prevalent in this collection of work. “At a time in which it seems that facts and logic are useless, art is needed more than ever. Artists need to find a way to reach people because there is more urgency than ever – as a country, as a planet, as living beings, we are running out of time.” – Rob Hitzig.

Looking Outward features Trevor Corp’s mixed media works have a unique texture and graphic quality. Says the artist “I believe all aspects of our lives and experiences become a part of our creations if we are invested in them. Robert Gold’s photographic and mixed media portraits utilize super-saturation of color and abstraction that reveals the unconscious. Dominique Gustin’s poem Together – Alone coupled with her video installation, evokes “mesmerizing images of nature juxtaposed with slow motion of camera angles…conveying the surreal and unsettled quality of the 2020 summer experience.” Harlan Mack’s sculpture, wood constructions, and mixed media works reveal a mini-retrospective of his work over the last few years – all steeped in theme of work, identity and offer a lens on other-worldly fate. Rounding out the exhibition is a sound/video installation Contamination by Rural Noise Ensemble. Artists Sean Clute and Otto Muller dive into a ‘third nature’ with an unexpected layer of color and dialogue, urging the viewer to consider that “changing with circumstances is the stuff of survival.”

To make an appointment to view the exhibition in a socially distanced setting please contact the Curator – Kelly Holt at kholt@sprucepeakarts.org.

Artists:

Trevor Corp

photo by Howard Romero

My works are based primarily on visual impact, and graphic elements. I don’t tend to have a meaning behind my work, but delight in hearing what others find. I relish in discoveries made in the process of creating. I believe all aspects of our lives and experiences become a part of our creations if we are invested in them.

 I work quickly, and have the tendency to work on several paintings at once. The works feed off of one another, ideas cross pollinating. Often, I put paintings away for weeks or months, revisiting them later with a fresh eye, adding or replacing elements. This process results in layering of images and textures, creating subtle surface textures which give the painting added depth and visual life. Painting provides me with a sense of discovery, an opportunity to explore and have fun.

 

 

Robert Gold

In all my art, I strive to uncover the extraordinary hidden within the ordinary. We’ve become such a visual society, and we’re constantly inundated with imagery. Despite so much to look at, I find it’s disturbingly easy to lose sight of what matters, and miss the beauty unfolding right in front of us. That’s why, with my compositions, I focus so intently on seeing the everyday in a brand new way.

As with many artists, I’ve always gravitated to unique perspectives and novel approaches. As a boy in Brooklyn, I’d scale the outsides of apartment buildings just for the chance to see my neighborhood from a new point of view. And years later, as a dentist, I repurposed many of my instruments to fashion life-like sculptures out of rudimentary dental plaster. My life has really been an on-going quest for new ways to see my world, and new ways to use my surroundings.

My current pieces grew from experimentation in the 1980s with developing Polaroid instant photos directly onto wet, watercolor paper. I used the still-wet colors from these image transfers as the palettes that I painted with. The resulting pieces were half photo-realistic, half impressionistic. Thinking back, the whole process strikes me as a non-computerized version of PhotoShop.

These days I’ve incorporated Photoshop computer software into my process. The latest technology grants me the ability to experiment on an unprecedented level and my current pieces have benefited immeasurably. Using specialized digital techniques, delicate hand-detailing, and a sophisticated print process, I’m able to expose the inner richness that lives buried just below the surface of our daily lives.

 

Dominique Gustin

Together – Alone

waking up dreaming

we cast our hooks into the sky

and threw all our anchors in

clinging bareback to summer

in the first worst year

 

The poem: The summer arrived and saved us from our quarantined lives, and the intensity of current events, as we experienced them together – and alone. With every unnaturally long day, the natural world provided unexpected solace and stability: with no walls, electricity, hum, screens, messages, news or alerts.

The video: An archive of summer, captured in black and white and projected on windows – not to see the world, but to remember it. Mesmerizing images of nature are juxtaposed with slow motion camera angles that twist, turn, move upside down and right side-up, conveying the surreal and unsettled quality of the 2020 summer experience.

 

Rob Hitzig

About  ART? The idea of painting “ART?” came to me on November 9, 2016 out of confusion, frustration, and fear. I thought, “What to do now?” The challenge is to create relevant art that bridges political divides, brings people together, and opens minds. So the question is for, and to, myself, but it is also a challenge to others. Though it is easy, and perhaps even self-gratifying, to create art that only reaching an audience that already agrees with a certain point of view, the real challenge is to create something that does actual good in the world. But how?

I believe that an important part of that process is creating opportunities for real and honest dialog. A good starting point is to ask a question that jump starts critical thinking. The goal of my “ART?” series is to be a vehicle for opening minds through discussion. How many different ways can it be read? What is the purpose of art? What is it good for? Is a piece good or bad? What is art? What is an artist saying? Thankfully, there are no absolute answers, no easy solutions.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found the last four years to be reassuring. At a time in which it seems that facts and logic are useless, art is needed more than ever. Artists need to find a way to reach people because there is more urgency than ever – as a country, as a planet, as living beings, we are running out of time. I’m unsure of the best way to proceed but I love how art poses questions in which the answers spur conversation, in which the answers can be viewed with acceptance and without judgement. That’s at least a starting point.

About 012120 (banners) It is absurd to believe bumper stickers can change the world. Yet we try. Bumper stickers are a uniquely American phenomenon that are ubiquitous on our roadways. Only in the U.S. do people broadcast their beliefs systems and promote their ideas on the back of their cars. Typically, they shout what others should think, do, or believe.

Does any of it do any good? I have found that even if I agree with the sentiments, seeing them makes me feel defensive, they feel like an invasion of my mental space. My bumper sticker project started in 2013 as an effort to do the opposite, say nothing and intentionally leave others in peace.

As the series has developed I have found that by saying nothing they actually inspire things much more profound than I initially realized. Because they are placed where people expect to be inundated with a slogan, viewers search for meaning. As a result, the images are catalysts for questioning and thinking. The ambiguity plants an internal seed of discussion that sometimes even results in conversations with the owner of the other vehicle. Because they are non-offensive and inconsequential, they can be a starting point for open and honest dialog.

Also, I believe that by not projecting a specific idea, they are actually projecting acceptance of others. By being respectful of others they are welcoming them into dialog. Ultimately, this is an act of love.

An important part of the project is that the bumper stickers be free because it symbolizes equality. However, I also need the project to be self-sustaining, I cannot afford to give away bumper stickers indefinitely to everyone. As a result, I created a few rules for distribution, simply stated: All U.S. residents are entitled to one free bumper sticker as long as they promise to put it on their vehicle. All other bumper stickers are $10.

 

Harlan Mack

Harlan Mack is a multidisciplinary artist based at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. He employs blacksmithing, steel fabrication, painting, and oral storytelling to build an expanding, constellated narrative that invites viewers and listeners into an imaginary future. This world is generated and inspired by Harlan’s life experience, exploration and thoughts around identity, labor, perception, contemplation, fiction, community, emergence and  afro-futurism. 

Harlan’s recent body of work incorporates brightly painted reclaimed wooden fence and blackened forged steel, constructed into symbolic references depicted within his narrative future. Harlan’s use of forged steel faces and animal figures plays as a distilled reference to the elements of complex individualities within a moment lived. Through this type of distillation and combination, Harlan, invites the viewer to contemplate and revive the potential of disuse as a cornerstone to what comes next.

 

 

Sean Clute & Otto Muller, Rural Noise Ensemble

About Contamination

Like an unexpected cluster of turkey tail mushrooms one steps on and then cannot relocate upon return, the audiovisual installation Contamination offers an interruption in our understanding of the world as orderly and determined; preordained through extent systems of control.

Describing The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (2015), Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing writes: “My book then offers “third nature,” that is, what manages to live despite capitalism. To even notice third nature, we must evade assumptions that the future is that singular direction ahead.”

The Rural Noise Ensemble uses technological glitch to reorient the eye to fungal patterns, following algorithmic logics that disrupt organic texture. Distortion, spectral analysis, and digital processing excavate new melodies from the thick soundscape of field recordings. Acted upon by the history of music chant emerges:

Nos nostrae certaminibus spurcitia contaminantur: mutantur illi, qui dum sumus in via alii faciunt

An AI translation of Tsing’s words:
We are contaminated by our encounters; they change who we are as we make way for others. As contamination changes world-making projects, mutual worlds—and new directions—may emerge. Everyone carries a history of contamination; purity is not an option. One value of keeping precarity in mind is that it makes us remember that changing with circumstances is the stuff of survival.

Contamination recognizes each moment we live is already contaminated—mediated through technologies and implicit histories while implicating both human and non-human systems at all scales. We are reminded that there is no purity to be preserved, only presence to inhabit.