Abstract by Myles Danaher

An expressive abstract by
Myles Danaher

Orchard Street by Helen O'Donnell

"Orchard Street"
by printmaker Helen O'Donnell

Emily Dickinson by Paul Katz

Rendering of an
Emily Dickinson poem
by Paul Katz

Starstruck by Anima Katz

"Star Struck in East Corinth,
Vermont" by Anima Katz

4th Annual Love & Passion Show at Dianich

"To me," writes curator Catherine Dianich Gruver, "living a passionate life is about inviting a certain spiritedness into your everyday sensibility." This wide-ranging definition opens the way for a collection of wildly diverse works in the Dianich Gallery's 4th Annual Love & Passion Show. Opening at this month's Gallery Walk, this exhibit is a welcome, refreshing view on that "L-word" typically Hallmark-ized to death in this, the shortest month of the year. The invitational group show is on display at the gallery through the end of the month.

Courtship by Simi Berman

Simi Berman's "Courtship" pictures the dance of unlike forms magnetically drawn towards each other. It seems her scrolling curves are charming and cultured; his solid and energetic, tightly compacted mass radiates uniform purpose. The successful culmination of their ardent courtship must affect the picture, but how?

The works in this exhibit are diverse in both medium and subject matter. Prints and paintings by Putney artist Helen O'Donnell explore the idea of how passion manifests itself in landscape -- in O'Donnell's case, the landscapes most familiar to her. Her work includes a certain sense of abandon in the face of nature's wild, all-consuming beauty, echoing Dianich Gruver's exhibit text: "[Living a passionate life] is about adventure in the outside world and resonating with the stillness in one's interior world at the same time." O'Donnell's bold whorls of color and semi-abstracted portrayal of shape and line evoke that sensation of connection with, and recognition of, self in nature's powerful and inexplicable shapes and moods.

Simi Berman's works on paper deal more explicitly with the intersection of physical and emotional landscapes. "At the Altar of Love (or Venusburg): A landscape in greens with supplicating nude," is a gently playful nude en plein air, with the luscious green curves of mountains echoing the curves of the pink human figure below. Far more explosively, "Luna Park (or, The Passion of the Peppers)," Berman writes, portrays "the feeling of a moment," with strong centrifugal movement and bold, colorful, gestural lines dancing across the visual field.

Matthew Peake's life-sized mixed-media mobile, an animate, piecework painting of two tango dancers, is infused with a compartmentalized sensuality -- it's an exercise in making movement tangible to the gallery visitor. This piece is one of the most explicitly passion-fueled in the show, and, constantly in motion, almost allows the viewer to join in the dance with the clinched lovers.

Anima Katz began painting at the age of fifty-three, after mastering needlepoint and writing poetry. Like many artists who begin late in life, she is self-taught and has developed a highly original style that owes very little to outside influences. She has worked extensively in gouache and oil and has explored many themes and subjects over the past seventeen years. All of her work is touched by her sensuous temperament, and scenes depicting romantic love have been among her abiding themes.

The works in this exhibit embrace the many facets of love and passion, not just those associated with a specific incarnation of romantic love. Dianich Gruver writes, "[Passion] is dwelling in the sensuality of life, taking in the breadth of the most delicious sights and smells. It is getting drunk on those very sights and smells." These painters and sculptors, printmakers and photographers have opened themselves up to the sensuousness of everything around them, and channeled that awestruck swoon into paper and gouache and oil and ink and graphite.

The exhibit in the Dianich Gallery also includes work by Myles Danaher, Brian D. Cohen, Helen Hawes, Paul Katz, Ellen Madden, Helen Schmidt, Julia Zanes, and Erin Gardner. It will be sure to sweep you away.

The Dianich Gallery is located at 139 Main Street, down the alley and through the glass doors. The opening reception, with light refreshments, is on Friday, February 4, from 5 to 8 p.m. The gallery is otherwise open by appointment. Call Catherine Dianich Gruver at (802) 380-1607.

Copyright 2011, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont

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