Stowe art enthusiasts have gotten used to seeing quirky, offbeat and eye-catching art pieces popping up around town this time of year as part of Helen Day Art Center’s annual “Exposed.” exhibit, now in its 28th year.
Past exhibits have included a massive “paper” airplane, precisely crafted from bright, shining metal, a ring of stone human figures, and a monolithic head with two faces that kept watch over Stowe village last summer.
In some years, the “Exposed.” exhibit has featured more than 20 artists, but this year, thanks to construction in Stowe village to rebuild about 15,000 feet of the town’s sidewalks and bury the utility lines in the village, the exhibit is small, including just two — large — pieces.
“We had a discussion about what to do in the case of this year, because it’s such a unique year for ‘Exposed.’ in the limitations of where we can be physically,” said Rachel Moore, executive director of Helen Day Art Center and the curator of “Exposed.”
“We decided it would be best to have it more concentrated and impactful right on the front lawn of the art center, instead of trying to do a satellite exhibition up the Mountain Road someplace,” Moore said.
Both sculptures will be on display on the lawn in front of the Helen Day Art Center/Stowe Free Library through Halloween.
David Stromeyer’s “Banded Rock,” an orblike structure crafted in yellow steel, was installed on the lawn a few weeks ago; Tom Fruin’s “Maxikiosco,” a Plexiglas house that resembles a colorful game of Tetris, will be installed Friday.
“Because of the bright colors, the shape, the architecture of (Fruin’s) work, I felt like having something that was equally as bold but in a singular, chromatic way” would pair well with it, Moore said. “It would be really nice to have David Stromeyer paired with that. I know his work, I know this yellow piece was the perfect one to have paired because of the way that it both contrasts and compliments” “Maxikiosco,” Moore said.
“Maxikiosco” is an interactive exhibit. Moore said a step will be installed on the Helen Day Art Center front lawn to make it easier for people to go inside the structure, and people who text questions to a number inside will receive answers “from” the work.
LED lights on the inside provide a show, she said.
“It’s really fun and interactive. I think kids and adults will really enjoy that piece of it. It will look beautiful at night. It just is such a stunning piece on its own, the way the light from the sun will pass through it,” Moore said.
This year’s “Exposed.” exhibit opens this Saturday, June 20, at 4 p.m. at Helen Day Art Center.
Fruin’s piece was originally crafted in 2011, and has been exhibited in New York City, where Fruin is based; Stromeyer’s dates to 2005.
Stromeyer’s steel sculptures have been exhibited in Kansas, New York, Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Stromeyer works his steel cold, and continues to work with metal at Cold Hollow Iron Works, his 200-acre sculpture park and studio space in Enosburg Falls.
Inside, more art
Helen Day Art Center is also exhibiting three separate shows through Aug. 24.
• Suzy Spence, a New York- and Montpelier-based artist who painter who depicts fox hunting as a metaphor for contemporary power struggles, has paintings on display at Helen Day Art Center.
Her exhibit included a talk last week with Green Mountain Hounds’ Master of Foxhunting Christa Kemp about historical fox hunting and how it showcases power struggles in Spence’s work.
• Moore curated a second exhibit by Vermont artist Dusty Boynton, who creates whimsical, childlike pieces and is showing her reliefs this summer.
Moore says Boynton’s reliefs have never been exhibited before.
“It’s mono-prints that are cut out and then reconstructed and put on thicker wood panels, and those panels are then cut out,” she said.
“The work is very complicated, intellectually and emotionally. It has very many emotional layers to it but appears to be very carefree and childlike, and a lot of her work is on canvas, on linen and framed paper. This is a really different exhibition,” she said.
Boynton will also be selling smaller drawings in support of the Helen Day Art Center.
• “Composing Form,” a group ceramics exhibition, takes over the east gallery.
“It’s really a broad sampling of contemporary ceramic work, ranging from abstract to figurative,” Moore said. Artists hail from Estonia, China, Vermont and Puerto Rico, among other places in the U.S.
A panel discussion will be held Friday, Aug. 2, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. with Boynton, Spence, and writer, art historian and “On the Hunt” curator Amy Rahn. The exhibits are on display until Aug. 24.
Moore noted these exhibits are the first adult art shows the Helen Day Art Center has hosted at home base since a flood Dec. 10, 2018 damaged the building and forced the gallery into a satellite location.
“This is a really challenging year for us,” she said. “We really rely on individuals to support our programming so that it can be free and accessible to everyone.
“Even though we don’t have the same number of sculptures, the expense is still the same, and we’re really fortunate to still have sponsors that really believe and understand and enable us to continue to present this exhibition to the public with the opening festival that’s also all free.”