Unlikely partners talk alt.energy

From brainstorming solutions to preserving the world to apocalyptic images flashing forward to the end, “Human=Landscape: Aesthetics of a Carbon Restrained Future” is a collaboration of artists, students and engineers that explores the entire question of alternative energy.The exhibit, currently showing at the Firehouse Gallery, is part of The Energy Project, a partnership between ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center and Burlington City Arts, with support from the University of Vermont.”It’s sort of like a big dinner party,” Firehouse Gallery curator Chris Thompson said about the collaboration.  “Each artist or innovative thinker brings something different to the table.””We do practical things, pure art, completely wackedout things and they all come together, hopefully,” he said.From room to room, the viewer sees different ideas and artwork about alternative energy from 23 artists.  Thompson said he wanted to include all perspectives, without being righteous. “Dear World Project,” a display within the exhibit, features multiple projects that examine the possibilities of sustainable energy sources by UVM students, with guidance from UVM professors Cami Davis and Nancy Dwire.In her “call for artists,” Davis described the project as “small works on behalf of the atmosphere.”One project, done by a first-year engineering class, features a wind-powered apple transportation machine.In the pure art realm of the exhibit, Jean-Pierre Roy’s “Waterfall” remarks on nature taking back humanity’s impact.  Bright jets of lightning, the auburn glow of bombs, decay and the reclaiming of the land by nature emanate in Roy’s paintings.In a lecture given on Sept. 1, Roy explained that he wanted to explore the “relationship between the man-made and the natural.”A small structure, resembling an outhouse, stands behind the gallery, illuminating the practicality that Thompson mentioned. MicroHouse is a self-sufficient structure that has zero environmental impact. “It is everything you need to get by in 10 feet,” said Thompson.The largest of the pieces included in the exhibit was Patrick Marold’s installation of 1,000 windmills alongside Route 89.  The piece exemplifies both the beauty of alternative energy and its ability to go unnoticed in the surrounding landscape.Mostly UVM students and volunteers conducted the installation of the piece, Thompson said.  The completely privately-funded exhibit, which Roy calls a “great survey of different views,” runs until Oct. 14 at the Firehouse Gallery in Burlington.