Try inviting a dozen artist friends to submit a few pieces of their art and see what happens. It was so William T. Ramage made a first call to artists for the exhibition “70+: Gero-Transcendence” at Rutland’s 77 Gallery. No advertisements or announcements. Instead, Ramage suggested that these artists invite other artists, creating a sort of egalitarian curation process.
For his part, Ramage has prepared the 7,000 square foot gallery in the hope that some 40 artists will show up. Then he waited. The resulting exhibit is “an acre of art,” according to Ramage, the curator and inventor of “70+: Gero-Transcendence”. With 65 participating artists and more than 400 works on two floors, Ramage calls it “Rutland’s largest exhibition ever”.
While these numbers are impressive, the show thematically focuses on the number 70. The only requirement to participate was that performers must be at least 70 years old; some are much older and Ramage himself is a dynamic 77. Collectively, the artists have nearly 5,000 years of experience – and it shows. Most of the artists here are very accomplished; many have gained international recognition. It is an exhibition of diverse styles and mediums, filled with energy, vitality, fresh perspectives and political commentary.
As the registration deadline approached, the quantity and quality of the work submitted exceeded Ramage’s hopes, he recalled in an interview. There was only one problem: the volume of works of art exceeded the available exhibition space at the 77 Gallery. Ramage therefore extended the show to the second floor and asked for even more submissions.
While the ground floor of the building housed the 77 Gallery since fall 2017, the upstairs had not been used for years, as the peeling paint attests. A team of several artists and many student volunteers prepared and prepared the walls for the space, which once housed the Central Vermont Public Service.
The exhibition was not organized in the usual sense of the term, in that Ramage did not choose some submissions and did not reject others; it would interfere with the ethics of artists, he said. Instead, his challenge was to hang the entire work into a cohesive and evocative whole.
The result is a seductive, often enthralling, walk through decades of artistic creation. The list of participating artists, B Love at Anne Young, is too long to reproduce here. For this reviewer, however, a number of works stand out.
Sarah Ashe’s “Convoy (Parade)” rekindles memories of the loss, rescue and new beginnings associated with Hurricane Katrina. His small articulated sculptures of boats, people and goods parade in an upside down world, suggesting ideas of resilience, home and community.
Nitya BrighentiThe masterful and moving oil paintings on canvas express a time out of time and a place unknown but as familiar as the house. Carrie GelfanPortraits are vivid and quirky visions, quirky snapshots filled with people you know or would like to know.
Ramage’s own work appears in an installation room on the second floor that is surprisingly surprising to come across – especially if visitors encounter him via a standing 3D figure they will likely mistake for a real person. Ramage has always been interested in working with alternatives to the traditional vanishing point. Here he discusses ideas of creation, imbued with sexual and spiritual energies.
Randolph-based 90-year-old Ronni Solbert has worked as a book illustrator, painter, sculptor, and photographer, with her work exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. Her four paintings here are reminiscent of Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler, both of whom applied color in steady bands that sweep across the canvas. Solbert’s dark mixed media palette in “Venus Lunar Probe” and the painting’s central “eye” are quietly fascinating.
Across the room hang two very large drawings (perhaps eight feet tall) by Tim Secord of Bennington, which evoke trees, woods, marshes and hills. Using colored pencils and graphite, he draws marks, lines, swirls and whorls to create dense layers of images.
the prolific Fran Taurus, based in Brandon and Barcelona, exhibits several large-scale works. Of particular interest is “Flamingo Stereopticon,” a 1985 photorealistic painting on loan from Bennington College. It appears juxtaposed with more recent abstract works.
Despite the considerable volume of works on display, the exhibition does not look like a visual barrier. Just as interesting as the art is a series of video interviews with the artists, which visitors can sit down and watch. The artists talk about their work, their lives and their influences, creating links between the generations represented here. It’s fascinating to hear their stories and then see their works again.
One example is the Burlington artist John douglas. Its multimedia print “Crushing Violence” can be read like a war-torn street scene. From his interview, the viewer learns that Douglas dipped an assault rifle in ink, put it on Masonite and crushed it with a bulldozer. This explanation gives a whole new understanding of the play.
Ramage noted that the idea for this exhibition is not new to him. “I’ve wanted to do this for years,” he said. “So many people come to see the show, and they are stunned when they find out how old the artists are.
“I think we are the most interesting and creative generation,” Ramage continued. “But we have the label ‘irresponsible’. We’re the bridge between the modern world and the postmodern world, and you needed that kind of wacky, wild transition.”
In a statement from the curator, Ramage further explains: “If you were born between 1938 and 1949 … that makes you a participant, whether you have resisted, ignored, ignored, witnessed, contributed or actively participated in the passionate heart of a culture. . to redefine oneself.
“Many of us, who are now over 70, were unwittingly iconoclastic young people who challenged, dismantled and inventively replaced what was a culture that had outlived its viability,” he continues. Ramage suggests that the youth of the 50s, 60s and 70s were countercultural not because of sex, drugs and rock and roll, “but because they were passionate pioneers exploring the uncharted frontiers of a new era that went against the dominant culture. ”
Ramage’s idea that his generation’s legacy is one of cultural empathy is worth considering. After all, we still talk about it, sing its songs and revisit its politics and rebellion.