Watercolor, long considered the lesser of the arts when compared to oils, has enjoyed a true renaissance over the past few decades. New, permanent materials and bright, lustrous pigments have inspired artists to create paintings unimagined in the distant past. To experience this phenomena, all one has to do is visit the 2019 Green Mountain Watercolor Exhibition currently filling the Red Barn Galleries at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield.
Upward of 100 paintings from across the United States showcase the diverse styles and techniques of contemporary watercolor artists. Immediately upon entering the galleries, one experiences the large abstract exhibition painting “Your Number Is?” by Lisa Forster Beach of Stowe, VT. The painting, on loan from the artist, was a major award winner at the 2018 American Watercolor Society International Exhibition in New York City. Her vibrant coloring, depth of values and strong design set the tenor for the remainder of the exhibition.
Three jurors selected the 72 paintings eligible for awards from a pool of submitted images. Their circumspect selection of paintings covering the gamut from photorealism to total abstraction makes for a well-rounded exhibition. Sixteen of these paintings shared more than $6,300 in awards selected by the exhibition judge, Mick McAndrews of Philadelphia, PA.
Of the 16 award-winning paintings, three are especially noteworthy. “Pueblo Sun Chant” by Z Feng of Radford, VA, is the perfect example of the subtlety in watercolor that can be achieved through the hand of a master painter. The portrait of a Native American is rich in texture with a very controlled color palette of earth tones punctuated with rich, deep reds. The painting is a study in human emotion and contrasts beautifully with “Halcyon Days” by Jeanette Fournier of Littleton, NH. Her photorealistic painting of a blue jay silhouetted against a flat, golden disk of a sun is a masterpiece of pure design. “Shadows on the Wall” by Susanna Spann of Cortez, FL, is an example of abstraction at its very best. An artist of the colorist movement, Spann’s interests lie more with the interplay of colors and the relationship of color shapes than with recognizable still life forms – though with careful observation one is able to decipher her vase of peonies.
Rounding out the exhibition are 28 paintings by the three jurors, the curator and three guest artists – Harold Aksdal of Fairfax, VT, Doug Condon of Queens, NY, and Samuel Wyatt of Lincoln, VT. These 28 paintings of landscapes, portraits, still life and industrial clutter are easily worth an exhibition of their own.
The exhibition fits very nicely into the spacious Red Barn Galleries with new, state-of-the-art lighting. Bringing this exhibition of national recognition to the Mad River Valley is a credit to the members and staff of Valley Arts. This eighth edition of the exhibition is not to be missed.
The Green Mountain Watercolor Exhibition continues at the Red Barn Galleries at Lareau Farm through Saturday, July 20, with an additional viewing time for artists on Sunday, July 21. Hours are Thursday through Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.