Aurora Portal to show work from 14 artists

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BENNINGTON >> Aurora Portal Gallery will exhibit a medley of work from 14 regional artists this month.

Materials used range from oil paints to ceramic, wood and metal, demonstrating human images, landscapes, animals, abstraction and other styles.

A reception with refreshments will be held on Friday, Aug. 5 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the gallery, 520 Main St. Many of the artists will be available to meet on Friday as well as on Saturday, Aug. 6 from 2 to 7 p.m. The exhibit runs until Sept. 1.

Curator Greg Winterhalter, emeritus professor of art and former director of the Burghdorff Gallery at Southern Vermont College, said he thought about the idea for the event back in March. Originally, he wanted art in empty storefront windows, but found that it posed too many challenges. He spoke with gallery co-director Susan Jameson, who suggested he have it at Aurora Portal.

"If anyone could be in charge of lighting up Bennington, [Greg] could do it," Jameson said. "I just thought, there's nothing like this in Bennington."

Painters and sculptures from the Bennington area, and Rensselaer and Washington counties in N.Y., include Teru Simon, Maggi Randall, Tony Conner, Paul Katz, Anima Katz, Paul Stitelman, Marjorie Portnow, Sose Gjelaj, Berta Burr, Gregory Smith, Barbara J. Sussman, Gary Sussman, Barbara Ackerman, and Winterhalter.

Winterhalter has experience with more than 500 art shows and finds joy in arranging this weekend's show because of how dynamic the work is. Each artist presented three to five small pieces of art due to the space limitations of the gallery.

"Representational and nonrepresentational. The majority is mostly landscape related stuff. I just went with what these folks did," Winterhalter said. "I did want to get some abstract art, and then the sculptures which fall into a different category."

Paul and Anima Katz are two of the presenting artists. Anima Katz moved to the U.S. from Germany when she was 21 and has lived in Bennington for 25 years. She said there are more galleries than there has been in the past, but she doesn't believe people will buy art.

"Bennington unfortunately isn't a big buying town for paintings, that's what I think. Unfortunately it is that way. They do have more galleries than they used to. I don't know how much they buy," Anima Katz said. "I've given a lot of pictures away because I feel I have over 700 paintings and about 1,000 drawings so I figured why not."

She primarily works with oil paint and creates pictures of people, landscapes or current events. She has a 9/11 series that some were cautious to exhibit because it was too relevant she said, even though her inspiration came from newspapers. She said that's where she bases a lot of her paintings on, in addition to books and what she witnesses in real life.

Anima Katz sells work at the Albany International Airport in New York as well as in Saratoga, N.Y. "Painters" was her best selling series. It illustrated famous painters such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh with painted portraits of themselves. They weren't paintings of the painters, but paintings with them and their paintings. She even repainted two of the pieces because she sold out of all of them.

Winterhalter said he doesn't think the show is about selling art, but exposing the community to the artist's' work.

"One of the biggest interests of the artists is actually just bringing art to the community. They may or may not expect to sell work. But they like the idea of getting their art out for the benefit of the community," he said. "For the most part, all of them have other galleries or periodically at times. They all have working studios. They're all just very down-to-earth."

Portnow has an oil painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 1981. Simon was born in Paris and is a French artist, sculptor, ceramist and educator. Paul Katz currently occupies the Carrie Haddad Gallery in Hudson, N.Y. and has been a curator consultant at the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute.

"Main Street is evolving," Winterhalter said. "It's a slow process, but it's evolving."

— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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