BRATTLEBORO — Six new exhibits open at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) on Saturday, June 22, at 11 a.m. An opening reception, free and open to all, will take place the same day at 5:30 p.m. Many of the exhibiting artists are expected to attend.
The new exhibits include the summer-themed "Ocean's Edge," consisting of three artists' depictions of life at the beach; a retrospective of the work of social documentary photographer and activist Dona Ann McAdams; new installations by Barbara Takenaga and Angus McCullough; photographs of North American bridges by David Plowden; and a selection of steel sculptures and works on paper by Timothy Segar. The new exhibits will remain on view through September 23.
"Ocean's Edge" features three artists with widely divergent styles. Isca Greenfield-Sanders' layered compositions, derived from found images, illustrate at once how time by the sea is remembered as well as the wonder of being at the ocean's edge. David Kapp's collages in saturated colors use simple strips of cut paper to portray bathers at leisure under the hot sun of Mexico. Graham Nickson renders the changing dynamics of the beach in all seasons, deftly capturing moments of contemplation.
"Dona Ann McAdams: Performative Acts" spans more than four decades of the social documentary photographer's work. Curated by John Killacky, the exhibit features McAdams' black and white photographs of performance artists, nuns, race track workers, people with schizophrenia, working farm animals, and anti-nuclear, pro-choice, war protest, feminist, queer liberation, and AIDS activism protests.
Early in her career, McAdams was inspired by her friendship with civil rights icon Harvey Milk to, as she put it, "use art to encourage social change."
In the book "We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation," Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown wrote, "There have always been photographers who capture the work of those involved in organized resistance, but there are very few activists who use photography to record the struggle. Dona's photography exudes a familiarity — a brief respite from the pressures of life, a hand over a heart, a subtle grin in the middle of a warzone — because Dona is among, of, and with those she photographs."
BMAC Chief Curator Mara Williams describes "Barbara Takenaga: Looking at Blue" as "a full-body experience." To create the four central works in the installation, Takenaga, a faculty member at Williams College, began with faux abstract-expressionist backgrounds of poured and dripped paint, then used a labor-intensive approach of applying a visual vocabulary of dots, tracings, outlining, and painting around splashes.
"There is a meditative aspect to this process, as well as unexpected shifts of image as concentric lines morph and change," Takenaga said. "While the finished painting is primary, this process of play and control is particularly important to me."
"Angus McCullough: Coincidence Control" was curated by Jonathan Gitelson, who says the exhibit "invites viewers to reimagine their relationship with time, to unplug and reflect." Housed in BMAC's Ticket Gallery, formerly the Union Station ticket office, the exhibit presents alternatives to standardized time, through the mediums of video, sound art, artist books, drawings, and an interactive time capsule that visitors are welcome to enter.
"The space becomes a gateway for exploring alternatives to the structures and institutions that measure and control us by means of synchronized time," said McCullough. "The exhibit also offers resources for understanding how the railway network was a key player in the creation and expansion of synchronized, or standardized, time, and how that development accelerated westward colonization, immigrant relocation, and industrial capitalism."
"David Plowden: Bridges" comprises a selection of photographs from Plowden's book "Bridges: The Spans of North America," which historian David McCullough has described as "a work of imagination and scholarship that would qualify [Plowden] as someone of note had he done nothing else."
Plowden has lived in the Midwest for 40 years, but he fondly remembers his childhood in southern Vermont, including the Putney train station, where he attempted to take his first photograph at age 10, and the Putney School darkroom, where he learned to print photographs. He has authored or co-authored 29 books of photography.
"Timothy Segar: Character Development" consists of steel sculptures on view outside the Museum and works on paper displayed in the South Gallery. Williams describes Segar's sculptures as "powerfully built and pulsing with vitality."
"Segar's two-dimensional works on paper are not preparatory drawings for his sculptures; they are fully realized works in their own right," Williams said. "The accumulating shapes develop organically and pulse across the paper surface as deeply satisfying abstract compositions, each retaining the energy of the artist's hand in every mark and gesture."
In conjunction with the new exhibits, BMAC has planned a full schedule of events — artist talks, guided tours, workshops, community conversations, and more — designed to delve deeper into the ideas, issues, and practices reflected in the exhibits. A calendar of events is available at www.brattleboromuseum.org.
Major support for BMAC is provided by its members and Allen Bros. Oil, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, the Four Columns Inn, Sam's Outdoor Outfitters, and Whetstone Station Restaurant & Brewery. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit www.brattleboromuseum.org.