Six new exhibits open at Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

BRATTLEBORO — Six new exhibits open at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) on Saturday . They include glass sculptures inspired by kids' drawings, original artwork by one of America's most beloved cartoonists, an artist's renderings of every item in his home, an immersive installation inspired by Islamic architecture, and more. An opening reception for BMAC members and the exhibiting artists will take place at 11 a.m. The exhibits open to the public at 1 p.m. They will remain on view through June 18.

Last fall BMAC invited kids in grades K-6 to create drawings and descriptions of imaginary creatures, with the promise that some of those creatures would be featured in an upcoming exhibit at the museum. "The response was incredible," said BMAC Museum Educator Linda Whelihan. "We received over 1,000 submissions, an amazing assortment of colorful and quirky beasts." BMAC then turned those submissions over to a group of professional glass artists who selected 20 creatures to be transformed into glass sculptures. The glass sculptures and all 1,000 drawings that were submitted will make up the exhibit GLASSTASTIC, on view in the museum's Center Gallery.

Quirky creatures will also inhabit the exhibit "Seriously Funny" in the museum's East Gallery. The exhibit consists of 16 original drawings and prints by longtime New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren, best known for his iconic, fuzzy-haired, long-nosed denizens of New York's Upper West Side. Koren and curator Jeff Danziger will give a talk at BMAC on Thursday, April 20 at 7 p.m. Other events related to the exhibit include a presentation by Jeff Sturm, founder of Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies, on the history of comics, scheduled for Thursday, March 30 at 7 p.m., and a cartooning workshop led by syndicated cartoonist Hilary Price, the creator of "Rhymes with Orange," on Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m.

The exhibit "Drawn Home" will fill the museum's Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason Gallery with 792 drawings, 13 prints, and 13 sculptures by Brooklyn-based artist Paul Shore. The artworks faithfully depict every item in Shore's home -- pencils, umbrellas, toothbrushes, t-shirts, and much more. Inspired by Audubon's heroic project to draw all the birds of North America, Shore spent four years creating the exhibit. "At first I thought of this as a still-life project," said Shore. "But after a short time I realized that it was more of a self-portrait project. The objects in one's home, both intentionally and randomly acquired ones, are not only things but also representations of needs and desires. This work has been an obsessive process, with a parallel in psychoanalysis: digging around in hidden places, uncovering forgotten memories, and presenting it all." Shore will give a talk about the project at BMAC on Thursday, May 18 at 7 p.m.

In the museum's Mary Sommer Room, visitors will encounter LUMINOUS MUQARNA by Soo Sunny Park, an immersive, enveloping installation inspired by Islamic architecture. Park, an Associate Professor of Art at Dartmouth College, created the work for the Islamic Arts Festival in the United Arab Emirates. The installation at BMAC will mark the first time it has been shown in the United States. According to BMAC Chief Curator Mara Williams, a muqarna is an architectural feature found in traditional Islamic architecture, especially in mosques. In a statement accompanying the exhibit, Park wrote, "In my work over the last ten years I have moved toward using cast light as a sculptural material. I reconfigure boundary materials—fencing, plastic, glass, sheetrock—to expand and explore a variety of transitional spaces between inside and outside, sculpture and drawing, vision and perception, objects and their shadows." In conjunction with the exhibit, Mohammed Abdelaal, founder of Hampshire Mosque in Amherst, Mass., will present a lecture on Islamic architecture at BMAC on Thursday, May 4 at 7 p.m.

Rounding out the new exhibits are "Ghost Mesa," a series of lithographs by Claire Van Vliet, the founder of Janus Press and one of Vermont's most highly regarded printmakers, and "Appearances & Reality," a collection of intricate collages by Mary Welsh of Williamsville. "Van Vliet conveys the power and presence of giant rock formations isolated against the sky," said Chief Curator Williams. "These are bracing images—creations of aesthetic rigor and poetic wisdom." Commenting on Mary Welsh's collages, Williams said, "Through her unusual combination of images, Welsh explores ideas at once personal and cultural, breaking new ground and creating richly nuanced, unique works of art." Williams and Welsh will engage in a public conversation about Welsh's work at BMAC on Thursday, June 1 at 7 p.m.


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