Natures Wiles- Exhibition by Joan Curtis

January 22nd, 2011

Natures Wiles by Joan Curtis, acrylic painting

I recently had the good fortune to visit the Feick Art Center on the campus of Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont to see the exhibit of paintings and sculpture by a wonderful artist (and wonderful friend) Joan Curtis.

The show is INCREDIBLY rich with color, texture and form. I wrote the following review and submitted it to Vermont Art Zine.

Nature’s Wiles: Recent Paintings and Sculptures by artist Joan Curtis is currently on display at the Feick Arts Center in Poultney, Vermont through February 11, 2011. The show is a celebration of color, texture, form and mystery. Stepping into the spacious Feick Gallery is akin to entering the secret musings of this prolific, complex artist, whose dynamic work fills the room with joyful color.

Curtis states: “The images refer to the seemingly wanton behavior of Nature throughout our world. Perhaps flippantly the artwork imagines us in a fictional rapport with tumultuous natural events.”

The show’s title painting Natures Wiles appears to be a complex cacophony of juxtaposed vignettes. In the painting Nature and the hand of man are inextricably entwined in a writhing landscape. Tiny multi-colored houses, their windows warmly aglow, are depicted in the moment of being swept away by a brutal flood. In the center a solitary tree reaches towards the energetic sky, anchored by towering rocks. Below the waterfall, gushing floodwaters threaten a tranquil, shimmering pond upon which a tiny boat floats serenely. The vessel’s solitary occupant is motionless, observing this chaos. As is Buddha who sits in a dark red temple with a checkerboard tile floor. On the left side of the waterfall, a more peaceful world exists. The house sits far from the flood; boats are safely pulled ashore. A horse and dog frolic.

As if the paintings were not enough of an oeuvre, Curtis’ sculptures loom off the wall or pedestal. Creatures and human figures nestle into the sheltering caverns, shelves and niches that Curtis creates with her signature technique of papier macher construction. Brilliant patterns, richly developed surfaces, wild complementary

Boathouse, acrylic on board, 15" x 15"

colors and energy exude from every angle.

There isn’t a static spot in the exhibit. Both sculpture and paintings are always energizing, always surprising, beckoning the viewer into a sea-like realm of contorted trees, mysterious caverns, floating beings.

Joan Curtis in her Brandon Vermont studio.

Having followed Ms. Curtis’ work for many years (25!) I can bear witness to a steady transition, edging towards an even richer exploration of surface and complex use of color. Her painting technique has become both more gestural in some areas, and jewel-like in others. The fresh energy of Curtis’ brush strokes are visible alongside layered, gleaming highly developed areas of pattern.

The gallery is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM Tuesday, Thursday from 12 PM to 6 PM

I also visited Joan in her studio/gallery which is just up the street from my studio space in the Granary. What a delight to enter into this creative sanctuary! Serenity and intentionality resonate throughout the rooms. Her work is celebratory and complex. An opportunity to visit will occur during Art in the Snow, our annual mid-winter Arts celebration the last weekend in February.

7 Responses to “Natures Wiles- Exhibition by Joan Curtis”

  1. Thanks for this informative article introducing me to this wonderful artwork by Joan Curtis. And, it is always a pleasure to visit another artists studio, thanks for sharing that too.

  2. Elaine Schell says:

    I have a print of Snow Roller at Greenbanks Hollow Bridge. The artenst is Joan Curtis Bennett. Is this by this Joan Curtis?

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