Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21- Rutland Vermont-My Big Art Week in VT MA & Upstate NY

Dearest Readers,
Meet Susan Farrow, Vermont artist and friend. Wife of sculptor Patrick Farrow who was the brother of the actress Mia. We are at the Salem Art Works (SAW) Summer Gala in tiny historic Salem, NY. An exhibition and performance events marked the end of a group residency for her at this art enclave near the Vermont border.

Sculptures dot the meadow. An old livestock barn serves as the gallery space.

Susan stands beside her series of small, contained black and rust assemblages that ask the viewer impossible questions. They are titled “The Farrow Museum of Perplexing Thoughts”. One of them asks, “Why are tears of joy the same color as tears of sorrow?” The image is a shower of tear-shaped rusted metal droplets.

Outside the gallery a sculptor and musician named Justin performed a piece with original music and found objects called Rock Chair. He bluesily exhorts the old throne-like wicker chair to get up and rock. He crawls under the chassis, lies on his back and tries to fix the mock chariot auto-repair style, but the stubborn piece of furniture refuses to budge.

The week started with a two hour drive Sunday to the Karme Choling Shambhala Buddhist Retreat Center in Barnet, Vermont. I walked around the grounds, meditated at the site of a future stupa (a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics), while Etta rolled in the grass. I explored the rooms inside the main building (without Miss Etta). No one paid a bit of attention to me. I arrived at the moment a week-long family camp session was coming to a close. Backpacks and sleeping bags dotted the porch and front lawn. Small groups of staff and kids were hugging and saying their good-byes. I slipped among them virtually unseen.

On the road to the Center, Etta and I stopped at Quechee Gorge, a deep ravine near the site of a former woolen mill store. We walked all the way down to the Ottauquechee river below, and played around on the rocks. It was a cardio-climb for both of us coming back out.

Monday Michael Beale and I drove an hour and a half in the rain to Mass MOCA in North Adams Mass–a Dickinsonian 19th century brick mill complex re-purposed for monumental installations, big group projects, and extensive artist retrospectives. I love this place. It’s a laboratory for inspirational, edgy work. Every year when I visit I am not disappointed.

Here are two sculptural installations by the Jamaican born artist Nari Ward–“NuColassus” and “Mango Tourists” that moved me. Both pieces incorporate Jamaican inspired media with objects found at MASS MOCA from its previous life as a cotton printing factory, and later an electric supply-making company.

Readers...are you still with me on this week of art adventures?

Tuesday Michael and I visited sculptor, glass artist and digital painter Paedra Bramhall who lives beyond the electrical grid in Center Bridgewater, VT. Michael is about to go inside Paedra’s hand-built home and studio in the first shot.

And here we are inside, deep in conversation about the economy and the state of the arts in Vermont.

Paedra has captured the hydro-power from the Bridgewater Hollow Creek that surges past her home and crosses through the 350 acres inherited from her Mom and Dad. A telephone line is her only nod to the utility companies. Inside is a clean composting toilet and water diverted from the creek.

Paedra took us on a tour of some of her bronze sculptures, her woodlands, and a second studio where she keeps her big digital canvases. There’s a third studio housing just glass and bronze pieces not on the tour today.

Thursday and Friday I finished my painting and drawing work at the Granary Studios in Brandon. It’s sad to leave, but I had a fruitful month exploring the notion of holes, wells and boats with holes, abstracted and imagined from multiple angles, under water, within the sky, deep inside the earth and below the skin. I’m happy with them. They are prep pieces for a daily digging be announced December 6th. Here are the images.

Too-da-loo my friends. Tomorrow I head south to Brooklyn, NY for a week with my beautiful daughter, her partner Erik, and my cute grandson Roman.


  1. Your work is beautiful!!! So productive!!!! I am taken by so many of the images, will you be exhibiting them somewhere?

  2. Thank you. Yes, I hope to exhibit them in conjunction with a long-term performance art piece to begin Dec. 6th (The anniversary of my mother's death in 1997). I plan on digging a hole 5' in diameter X 7' a well, for 15-30 minutes at the same time each day for however long it takes (months?). I'll hit rocks and roots and will need to figure out how to shore up the sides as I descend. When finished, I will place my mother's chair in the center, sit on it and ask her the nature of death. I hope to create a 5 minute video from daily pictures, the sound of digging and perhaps the animation of the drawings. This blog was started this past spring as a vehicle for self-discovery. I will keep track of my thoughts and struggles as I dig inward.