Great review in the Times Argus newspaper of Alternatives by Mary Gow:
Article published Jan 7, 2016
Visual Arts Review: ‘Alternatives’: Urban perspective inhabits a rural art center
By Mary Gow
A graffiti artist stands atop his bicycle, adding his creative expression to the rich variety of work already on the concrete wall in front of him. He has paused briefly, looking at the photographer. Another figure, in the background, continues painting, face close to the concrete expanse. The black-and-white image, tilted at an angle and augmented with a flash of red spray paint, draws the viewer into this urban moment in Mauer Park in Berlin. The strip of vertical concrete is one of the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, now a monument and dynamic graffiti space.
“Mauer Park,” by Kelly Holt, of Stowe, is among the compelling urban photographs in a two-person exhibition, “Alternatives,” opening this week at River Arts Center in Morrisville. The show features photographs by Holt and by Tom Cullins of Burlington. With their distinct approaches, the two photographers’ images have an urban sensibility in bringing together juxtapositions of street life, architectural forms, and reflections.
“Alternatives,” in the River Arts Gallery, is one of three new exhibitions opening at this community arts center. “Humans and Other Animals,” a selection of Caroline McKinney’s watercolor portraits, is in the Common Space Gallery at River Arts. Vermont landscape paintings by Peggy DuPont are in the Morrisville Post Office. A public opening reception will be will be held 5 to 7 p.m. today.
Founded in 1999, River Arts has a core vision of “Arts for Everybody,” providing opportunities for creative expression and serving as a cultural center. This creative hub makes its home in an 1847 Morrisville schoolhouse, acquired and restored through a successful capital campaign. Besides presenting multiple exhibitions every year, River Arts offers a broad range of programs, workshops, and classes for all ages.
This trio of exhibitions is the first set of new shows to open during the tenure of River Arts’ new executive director, Jeannine Valcour. Valcour, who has ties to Morrisville from childhood, brings two decades of experience in the arts, community development, and cross-cultural leadership to the position, most recently with the Institute for Sustainable Communities.
“River Arts is a real community gem,” said Valcour. “It’s a strong organization. I’m looking forward to expanding the reach of what is already in place and expanding River Arts’ role in the community.”
Valcour noted that these exhibits include two artists with close River Arts connections. Holt is the center’s youth program and gallery manager. McKinney serves on the board of directors and teaches at River Arts.
“Alternatives” brings together photographic investigations of urban landscapes by both Holt and Cullins. Holt’s work springs from street photographs she took in Berlin, Germany, in 2015. Cullins’ photographs, exploring light form, detail and composition, are from Montreal, Bogota, Athens and Burlington.
“I am interested in photographic abstraction and pattern found in surfaces such as sidewalks, distressed buildings, and street art, “ said Holt. “I try to view an urban landscape thru a fresh eye, trying to avoid the obvious.”
In her pieces, Holt combines images and brings in other media — bits of rust, encaustic, abstract painting.
“My photography is a kind of call and response approach — calling out to a photographic image and responding with mixed media augmentation,” said Holt. “I am interested in combining images to suggest a short story, to get the energy of the city.”
Cullins, architect and principal emeritus of TruexCullins in Burlington, finds that photography both compliments and celebrates his 40 years in architecture.
“Lately, I have used my background as an architect to explore more abstract composition, color and complexity in my painting and photography, and most recently, sculpture,” explains Cullins in his artist’s statement.
Cullins’ series of photographs at River Arts, titled “PhotoPhotos,” features reflections and subjects seen through windows and storefronts. Architectural detail anchors or adds to the abstraction in many — the edge of the window casing, a geometric design on the glass.
In Cullins’ “Photophoto 12,” the lower part of a mannequin’s face, lips parted, framed by her upraised arm, is seen through a shadow of a grid. Two eyes — one a photograph, one a drawing — look past the viewer from a window display in “PhotoPhoto 14.”
“For me, creativity has been vital and is the spirit that keeps my life invigorating and exciting,” said Cullins.
River Arts Center
“Tom Cullins & Kelly Holt: Alternatives” is on exhibit through March 1 at The Gallery at River Arts, 74 Pleasant St. in Morrisville. Also on exhibit is “Caroline McKinney: Humans and Other Animals” in the Common Space Gallery; “Peggy DuPont: Landscape Paintings” is at the Morrisville Post Office. Gallery hours are: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Friday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday; call 802-888-1261, or go online to www.riverartsvt.org. A public opening reception will be will be held 5 to 7 p.m. today.