Contemporary American Regionalism at SVAC
The Southern Vermont Arts Center (SVAC) will launch an exhibit created by guest curator Ric Kasini Kadour, ‘Contemporary American Regionalism: Vermont Perspectives,’ with an opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 17. Housed in SVAC’s Wilson Museum, the show features sculpture, fiber art, drawing and painting by 11 contemporary Vermont-associated artists.
In the early 20th century, American Scene Painting – as expressed by Social Realism in urban areas and Regionalism in rural communities – rose in popularity, led by artists Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry, who sought to wean America off the influence of European art with an approach that was uniquely American and expressed its values. Regionalism’s relatively conservative style and embrace of traditional themes was intensely popular with the American people, but the movement fell out of favor in 1942 with the advent of Modernism, forming a schism of antagonism between the art world and the American public.
Kasini Kadour considers this moment in history as a stepping-off point for the SVAC exhibition, which uses its permanent collection as a point of departure and presents contemporary art as it relates to present day issues and concerns. The exhibition is organized into two parts: The Land and The People.
From printmakers to abstract artists, Vermont artists are commenting on who we are and how we live. “Contemporary American Regionalism: Vermont Perspectives” asks the question, “What Is Vermont Art?” Far from the quintessential renderings of Regionalist painters, artists are raising issues about the Vermont landscape in a variety of media; issues that speak to Town Meeting Day topics about how we live in, use, and preserve the land. Working from an understanding that Vermont’s natural world has been managed by humans since the 1630s, artists question how we think about Vermont’s changing landscape, the natural world and our relationship to it. The exhibit also shows how contemporary artists are using a diverse set of strategies to portray the social, domestic and spiritual lives of Vermonters.
Kadour is editor of Vermont Art Guide, a quarterly magazine about contemporary art in Vermont. Contributing artists are Carol MacDonald, David Brewster, Denis Versweyveld, Dianne Schullenberger, Gabriel Tempesta, Galen Cheney, James Secor, JoAnne Carson, Judith Rey, Wendy Copp and Wylie Garcia. SVAC is located off West Road in Manchester. Visit svac.org for more information.