BRATTLEBORO — Steven Kinder's solo art exhibit at Brattleboro Museum and Art Center of massive portraits of people experiencing homelessness is just one of several exhibits opening at the museum Friday.
Photography, painting, multimedia installations, glass and artifacts are among the works on display starting Friday. Several of the exhibits will also be accompanied by events this spring and summer at the museum and throughout the region.
The exhibits will be on view through June 14, except for the new installation in the museum's window bays, which will remain on display for a year.
Taking its name from the number of people who were unsheltered in America in 2018, "Steven Kinder: 552,830" features portraits of people experiencing homelessness whom Kinder has met over the years in New York City. Kinder's large-scale monochromatic canvases are suspended, unframed, from the gallery ceiling.
"To see these images, we need to lift our chins and eyes, as if we were looking at a historical portrait in an institution," said curator Katherine Gass Stowe. "Through Kinder's art we not only see [the people depicted], we feel their humanity as we register their steady gaze right back at us."
BMAC and Groundworks Collaborative will present a series of events related to the exhibit, including an April 15 talk by therapist Kurt White on why we tend to avert our eyes when we walk past someone living on the street; a May 3 lecture by Dr. Tom Byrne on the large-scale factors contributing to homelessness in the United States; a May 14 panel discussion on housing issues in Windham County; and a May 26 dinner at which Groundworks staff will share information and answer questions on homelessness. These events will be free and open to all, with attendees invited to make a donation to Groundworks, which provides ongoing support to families and individuals facing housing and food insecurities in the greater Brattleboro area.
Complementing Kinder's portraits of people experiencing homelessness in New York City is Brattleboro artist Liz LaVorgna's multimedia project "Coffee & Conversation: Stories of Homelessness," on view in the Museum's Ticket Gallery. In 2015, Lavorgna began working on the project in collaboration with filmmaker Wyatt Andrews and with support from Groundworks Collaborative. For this exhibit, LaVorgna revisits the project, updating some of the original stories, introducing new stories, and documenting how the landscape has changed for unhoused people in Brattleboro in the past five years.
"'Coffee & Conversation' brings together people who have stable housing and people who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness," said BMAC exhibitions manager Sarah Freeman, "offering both parties a chance to look beyond stereotypes and stigma and connect as human beings, over a cup of coffee."
"Alison Wright: Grit and Grace, Women at Work," supported in part by a grant from the Vermont Women's Fund, consists of approximately 30 large photographs printed on aluminum panels that showcase the strength and perseverance of women around the world working to survive and to transform their communities. Wright is a documentary photographer, a National Geographic Traveler of the Year, and a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography.
"While Wright has made countless voyages around the world on humanitarian assignments, this is her passion project," said curator Katherine Gass Stowe. "These photographs expose some of the world's harshest conditions—as well as our connection to them, since many of the things we consume come from the labors of these hardworking women."
Stowe will lead a tour of both the Wright and Kinder exhibits on Saturday, April 18, at 1 p.m. Wright will present a photo lecture about her life and work at Next Stage Arts Project in Putney on March 14, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, and may be purchased at brattleboromuseum.org or nextstagearts.org.
"Roger Clark Miller: Transmuting the Prosaic" is an installation featuring video, sound, and modified vinyl records mounted on the walls of the Museum's Mary Sommer Room. Miller is a co-founder of the art-punk band Mission of Burma and a member of Alloy Orchestra, a three-person ensemble that Roger Ebert called "the best in the world at accompanying silent films." This is the first-ever exhibition of Miller's visual art. Miller will speak about his work and perform ambient guitar music on Wednesday, April 8, at 7 p.m. He will also take part in an evening-length concert of his original music at BMAC on Friday, May 29, at 7:30 p.m.
Inspired by an experience in 2011 with a 5.8-magnitude earthquake, artist Steven Rose has created an immersive environment in the Museum's East Gallery designed to reflect the beauty of syncopated movement. The installation "Steven Rose: For/While (2020.01)" gives viewers the opportunity to experience the artist's interpretation of a phenomenon he witnessed on that unsettling day, which he describes as a "sublime folding of chaos into order." Rose will speak about his work on Thursday, June 11, at 7:30 p.m.
"Postcards to Brattleboro: 40 Years of Mail Art" features postcards, cut-outs, drawings, and poems sent and received over nearly 50 years by Stuart Copans, known in the mail art world as "Shmuel." The exhibit includes mail art from Copans to fellow mail artist Chuck Welch ("CrackerJack Kid") as well as items that Copans received from Kandy Phillips, Walt Evans, Julie Hagan Bloch, John Bennett, Jazzy Lupa, Peter Dudley, Andrea Jay, and Ryosuke Cohen. The items are drawn from Copans' extensive mail art archive, estimated to include over 25,000 artifacts.
Massachusetts-based glass artist Wesley Fleming sculpts molten glass into lifelike, brilliantly colored replicas of the wildflowers and insect pollinators native to our New England woodlands. Tucked into BMAC's Spotlight Gallery, "Wesley Fleming: Silvestris, Wild and Untamed" features Fleming's exquisitely detailed glass creations, including wild columbine, jack in the pulpit, and other woodland signs of spring.
Museum visitors of all ages and abilities will have an opportunity to create their own natural wonders out of recycled materials in "Bugs & Blooms," a drop-in workshop led by Education Curator Linda Whelihan on Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
"John Gibson: Jazz" is a year-long installation in the five large window bays extending across the front of BMAC's Union Station. For more than 30 years, Gibson has focused primarily on paintings of balls, often decorated with dots or stripes. For his BMAC installation, he explains, "I began to work with pieces of paintings that might or might not be connected to each other behind the stone walls between the windows. This created an illusion that giant balls were actually inside the Museum, rolling around in the galleries."
The Museum's galleries and gift shop are open every day except Tuesday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. Members and children 18 and under are admitted free of charge. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit www.brattleboromuseum.org.