Renoir in the Meadow by Red Grooms

Red Grooms, "Renoir in the Meadow" (2007), oil on wood, 20.5 x 20.625 inches, one of several portraits of famous painters in this show

Every Night by Nancy Manter

Nancy Manter, "Every Night" (2012), archival inkjet, 9" x 12.5"

Evening Departure by Mallory Lake

Mallory Lake, "Evening Departure" (2012), pastel on paper, 22" x 36", courtesy of the artist

Red Grooms Headlines New Exhibits at
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

Hot Dog Vendor by Red Grooms

Red Grooms' "Hot Dog Vendor" (1999), enamel on aluminum, 129 x 180 x 56 inches

Pop artist Red Grooms has been making a ruckus in the art world for six decades, but his work has not been shown in New England for 17 years, and he has never had a solo show in Vermont until now. The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) is currently hosting "Red Grooms: What's the Ruckus?" -- a major new exhibit spanning the artist's long career and featuring several of his signature large-scale, interactive sculptures, whose travel and installation costs contributed to making this the museum's most expensive exhibit to date.

Known for his humorous, often cartoonish style, Red Grooms first made a splash in the art world in 1959, when he and other young artists staged a series of Happenings, wild, anarchic events blending improvisatory performance and studio art. In the decades since, Grooms has delved into an astonishing array of artistic media, including film, printmaking, sculpture, and painting. He has even created a signature medium he calls "sculpto-pictoramas," something akin to relief paintings, often with moving parts. His fascination with performance, spectacle, and the hustle-and-bustle of daily life is evident in this exhibit, which primarily explores three themes in the artist's work: the circus, the city, and the art world.

Visitors will first encounter the artist's life-size Hot Dog Vendor outside the museum's front entrance. Inside they'll see Red's 10-foot-tall Jumbo the Elephant and have an opportunity to board The Bus, a 1995 mixed-media creation that has traveled outside New York only once before. Accompanying these large-scale works are nearly 30 other pieces created between 1950 and 2012, including several early works, on loan to BMAC from a private collector, that have never been exhibited before.

Offering visual contrast to the richly detailed, figurative work of Red Grooms, the museum's Center Gallery will contain "Dynamic Invention: American Abstract Artists at 75," forty-eight digital prints, each by a different artist, created as a portfolio to mark the 75th anniversary of American Abstract Artists (AAA), an artist-run organization founded in 1936 in New York City to promote and foster understanding of abstract and non-objective art. The exhibit is accompanied by an essay written by AAA member, artist, curator, critic, and teacher Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art and former Director of the Venice Biennale.

Tucked into the museum's intimate South Gallery is "Between Dark and Night: New Pastels by Mallory Lake," a dozen masterful works created by the Brattleboro-based artist over the past year and a half. Steam trains, foggy nights, and the golden glow of monumental Beaux-Arts interiors inhabit this evocative and mysterious new work based on movie stills from film noir classics.

Outside the museum, Terry Slade's "Collective Memories of Place," a site-specific installation inspired by the museum's history as Brattleboro's train station, is "intended to stimulate conversation about our relationship with our surroundings and the impact human existence has on the planet," says the artist. In the museum's Ticket Gallery, BMAC's education curator Susan Calabria has created a hands-on, interactive exploration of color, encouraging visitors to reconsider their perception of color and its associations with language, food, and art history.

These exhibits are on view through October 20. A full schedule of related events includes a Red Grooms gallery talk, film screenings, and much more. For information, visit

Copyright 2013, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont

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