The Other Working Landscape: Watercolors by Tom Leytham
On view in the Regional Artist Gallery of the Bennington Museum from October 24 through December 31 is ‘The Other Working Landscape: Watercolors by Tom Leytham,’ an exhibition in which the artist and architect brings to the viewer images of a different kind of working landscape. While most think of hayfields, woodlands and pastures as working landscapes, Leytham creates paintings from the harsh beauty of dilapidating industrial landscapes, including mills, factories and quarries. Join the artist on Friday, October 23, from 4 to 6 p.m. in a free opening reception that is open to the public.
Word of mouth, the study of Google Earth and visual exploration led Leytham to sites throughout Vermont, but his work is most reflective of locations found in the rural Northeast Kingdom. “Just as these architectural ruins in their incompleteness invite visual exploration through the use of partial views, negative space, dramatic perspectives and rich detail, I seek to create complex, pictorial environments that will engage the viewer’s imagination,” remarks the artist.
“Since 2004, I have been exploring the remnants of the 19th and 20th- century industrial landscape in Vermont and the surrounding region through a series of watercolors of working, ruined and repurposed buildings and structures. Some are monumental, some are modest; many are hiding in plain sight. One of the most original vernacular buildings in Vermont is the step child of a historic district overshadowed by a covered bridge and miller’s cottage. A piano factory is hidden in the bushes in Barton and the remnants of an asbestos mine evoke the Great Wall of China,” says Leytham. “All places that once made things and created work for Vermonters are shown in their current crumbled state, yet in a rugged beauty.”
Leytham has purposely let the white paper show through on his watercolors, bringing the viewer’s attention back to the architecturally detailed building. “I am intrigued by the power of the watercolor to transform the physicality of massive structures into compositions of pure light and color, and to evoke their stories of construction and deconstruction. Indeed, the dissolving of watercolor pigment, together with the ghostly force of the white paper, creates the illusion of images disappearing before your eyes,” he states.
Leytham is a graduate of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where he received his bachelor of architecture degree. He is the founder of the Sketching School at Norwich University and currently serves as an adjunct professor there. He has been an architect in his own firm in Montpelier since 1973.
Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street/Route 9, Bennington. The museum is open every day and is wheelchair accessible. Visit benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571 for more information.