New artists and exhibits celebrated at reception

Addie Beach, Senior Staff Writer

Frigid weather and syllabi might dominate the first week of classes, but that doesn’t mean Burlington’s vibrant art scene can’t provide some relief.

Burlington City Arts will be holding a reception to celebrate its upcoming winter exhibitions, featuring artists Dusty Boynton, Edwin Owre and Elise Whittemore Friday, Jan. 19.

The 2018 Barbara Smail Award, given to mid-career Vermont artists, will also be presented.

Heather Ferrell, curator and Director of Exhibitions at BCA, said these artists show different aspects of artmaking.

“Even if you don’t like completely abstract art, there’s something else that would be appealing to you,” she said.

Although unintentional, Ferrell pointed out that the artists, all over 55, also provide an often overlooked perspective on contemporary art.

“Artmaking isn’t just a certain period and then it’s over,” Ferrell said. “The community should be allowed to show and continue to grow in their work.”

Ferrell mentioned that two of the artists have ties with the UVM community. The first, Owre, served as a Professor Emeritus of Art.

Owre has been making art professionally for over five decades, specializing in unique abstract sculptures that blend wood and paint, according to the BCA website.

“You can’t say it’s a painting, you can’t say it’s a drawing, it’s really interdisciplinary,” Ferrell said of Owre’s work.

While his work is rooted in minimalism, she pointed out that his constructions often have a playful side as well.

“Artmaking isn’t just a certain period and then it’s over. The community should be allowed to show and continue to grow in their work.

— Heather Ferrell

In addition to his art, Owre’s time as a professor at UVM made an impact on the Vermont art scene, Ferrell said.

Whittemore currently works as art director for the department of University Communications. She is a local printmaker and winner of the 2017 Barbara Smail Award.

Though she draws from a variety of subjects in her work, with a focus on natural objects like pinecones, Whittemore pointed out that her focus is often on the process of printmaking itself.

She noted how important the physical act of creating prints is to her final pieces, especially the contrast between the crude task of creating the blocks themselves and transferring these images onto fragile rice paper.

“For me, it often involves mistakes,” she said. “Your hand slips, or you’re too rough and you see what comes of that.”

This exhibit is particularly meaningful for Whittemore, since she was previously involved in BCA’s relocation from Memorial Auditorium in late 2016.

The exhibition will also showcase the work of Dusty Boynton, who primarily exhibits in New York, according to her website.

Boynton draws inspiration from her subconscious for her paintings, monoprints and reliefs. Her pieces “are similarly child-like in appearance but sophisticated in gesture and expression,” according to the BCA website.

Ferrell noted that Boynton’s paintings include characters that are simultaneously funny, grotesque and relatable, which only enhance the technical quality of her pieces.

“If you love painting and you love surface, you have to see her work,” Ferrell said.

The opening reception will take place on Jan. 19 from 6-8 pm with free admission. All exhibits will be available to the public at the BCA Center until April 7.