SVAC exhibit brings worlds of glass, street art together

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MANCHESTER — According to gallery director Anna Maria Hand, the Southern Vermont Arts Center (SVAC) has a long legacy of uniting unique and diverse works of art — as well as the artists that create those works — within a community context.

On Saturday, Sept. 8, Hand hopes that SVAC will continue that legacy with a new collaborative show, "Thriving Spaces: Street Art Meets Glass."

Integrating two distinct mediums through a shared and "synergistic" theme—the natural world —"Thriving Spaces" will kick off with a community reception at SVAC from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the show's opening day, and remain on exhibit until Oct. 14.

"This exhibit combines two completely different forms of art in one space, with a nature-inspired atmosphere," Hand said. "It's going to be something completely different that will hopefully introduce a new art form to our guests and visitors, which is really exciting."

With the help of guest curator Alison Wallis, brought on board by former SVAC Director Elizabeth Paxson, "Thriving Spaces" will unite a diverse group of New York City-based street artists under one roof. Placing the "large-scale and bold" street art pieces—made specifically for the exhibit —in a gallery setting will only add to the idiosyncratic nature of the show, according to Hand.

"Alison had a gallery in Brooklyn for a long time, and she was really there from the inception of the street art movement almost 30 years ago," she explained. "[Wallis] knows so much about the artists and styles, and she'll be here to talk about that as well."

The show will feature accomplished street artists like Lady Pink, whose work can now be found in the Whitney Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Groninger Museum of the Netherlands. Born in Ecuador and raised in New York City, Lady Pink's artistic career began in the 1970's — a time when street-art subculture was largely male dominated.

"I was born an artist; it's all I know ... my job, my career, my life," explained Lady Pink. "I take my duty seriously: to use the skill I was born with to enrich human culture."

Wallis's carefully curated collection of street artists will be augmented by members of the Vermont Glass Guild, a group that connects a stylistically and technically diverse group of glass artists working within the state.

"It's very experiential with these huge street art pieces alongside the glass," explained Hannah Evans, a member of SVAC's marketing and development team. "When you see it in person it's so different in the way that it interacts with the space, but because both artists are creating work inspired by nature there's a thematic connection."

"Combining two completely different art forms really represents artists coming together more than artwork coming together," Hand added. "SVAC has always been a place for artists to exhibit and work together, and to maybe draw inspiration from one another."

Both mediums intertwine to create a "unique landscape" within SVAC's more contemporary Wilson Museum, according to the show description, with "large, cascading canvases echoing sculptural glass in an experiential exhibit that reflects and reinterprets the surrounding natural world." Participating artists will be creating new works specifically for "Thriving Spaces" Hand explains, and all exhibited pieces will be available for purchase.

At the opening reception on Sept. 8, some street artists will also be making art on-site — much of which will be added to SVAC's permanent collection after the exhibit — and artists from both mediums will be available to mingle with community members and visitors.

"There's definitely going to be more of an interactive feel," Hand said, noting that farm-to-table hors d'oeuvres from the nearby Earth Sky Time Farm will only amplify the community atmosphere. "We have two big canvases that the artists will be doing a little bit of work on, but everyone will be able to contribute."

A video showcasing artists from the VGG will also be playing on loop, Evans explained, adding that a contemporary show like "Thriving Spaces" will both contrast and compliment the more traditional works found in other SVAC galleries such as the Yester House.

"It's a high-level exhibit that will bring contemporary and exciting work into this space, but it's also a very community focused exhibit," she said. "I think finding that balance is something that's very true to SVAC."

"The Arts Center began because of a group of artists who came together in the interest of not only exhibiting art, but reaching out to the community," Hand added. "In doing that with 'Thriving Spaces,' we're trying to contribute to that legacy, while also introducing the new with the old."

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