FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
'A Reverent Eye' is on view March 24 - May 20, 2018
In the Central Gallery through May 20th, two Vermont-based artists, painter Charlie Hunter and photographer Jim Westphalen, turn their attention to vanishing icons of Vermont's rich industrial and agricultural past. Though both artists’ preferred mediums rely on a certain degree of faithful observation of their surroundings - plein air painting and architectural photography share an affinity for accuracy and truth to experience - their intentions reach well beyond the strictly documentary. Favoring fresh air to the confines of their respective studios whenever weather permits (and often when it most certainly does not) these artists battle against time and the elements to establish a visual record of our rural heritage.
Working in oil and encaustic, Charlie Hunter’s palette is instantly recognizable, his preferred color a “muck” of his own mixing, and feels truthful to an often-overlooked side of small town America. Based in Bellows Falls, Vermont, Charlie’s collection of recent paintings shown here also reflects the relics and vistas he encountered while traveling the country participating in plein air conventions and leading workshops. Sharing inspiration in the works of Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, Jim Westphalen uses an adapted vintage camera to capture dynamic images of rural settings that blur the line between painting and photography.
Whether it means propping an easel on the side of a dirt road in an unfamiliar town or returning on a dozen occasions to a single field to assess that day’s light quality, Hunter and Westphalen embrace both spontaneity and diligence within their artistic practices. The moral imperative is to ensure that the stories of earlier generations responsible for this built landscape do not vanish into obscurity alongside the sinking barns that once stood proudly as symbols of their success. The emotional motivation is to move past nostalgia and to define one’s own role within this ongoing narrative. The works in this exhibition ask us to reconsider the familiar rusted railways and retired tractors that pepper our local landscape and inhabit their photographs and canvases, rightfully elevating them to subjects worthy of our respect, gratitude, and reverence.