Burlington artists dabble in dark arts

From neon skulls to knitted dissected frogs, the Dark Arts exhibit at South Burlington’s Nightmare Vermont, an interactive haunted house, unmasks the creepy side of art.The exhibit features work by 12 artists — both experienced and amateur — from Burlington and the surrounding community, created using a wide variety of mediums.While Nightmare Vermont is in its fourth year, this is the inaugural year of Dark Arts. In the entrance, a partially dissected knit frog and white lab rat lie in surgical pans.With their inner organs protruding from their stomachs, the animals made by Burlington native Emily Stoneking appear to be an appendectomy on grandma’s mittens gone awry.  Through peep holes in a black and orange window, a cascading tower of neon green, yellow and pink skulls sits in the center of an installation piece. “The Dead Rock on to the break of dawn, the Living Rock well to the depths of hell, 2009” by Chris Harvey of Troy, N.Y., juxtaposes the skeletons and the artificial flowers that surround the chilling centerpiece. “When you think art, you don’t normally think of this,” Community College of Vermont student Jordan Avery said.  Pen and ink drawings, found objects, sculptural pieces, screen prints and photography also line the walls of the small but sufficiently thrilling exhibit. As for the guidelines for the art, there weren’t any, curator Deidre Healy said.  “It didn’t have to be one thing or another.  It was great fun watching stuff as it was coming in,” Healy said. When searching for submissions, Healy targeted tattoo parlors and comic book stores as well as grocery stores and University of Vermont message boards.”Strange Dolls” artist Beth Robinson was also happy with the eclectic approach that Dark Arts took when putting together the exhibit. “I was very happy that there was going to be a show in town that celebrated the darker artists,” Robinson said.Healy hopes that the dark-themed exhibit will generate lighter feelings. “I hope they just enjoy themselves and see some things that make them smile and maybe shudder,” Healy said.The exhibit is open to the public and can be viewed Oct. 30 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Oct. 31 from 7 p.m. to midnight.