Art New England

Artist Community: Rhode Island (Art New England)

BigTown Gallery • Rochester, VT • www.bigtowngallery.com • May 2–June 10, 2012

Aaron SiskindThe nonconcentric circles of Dale Chihuly’s eight-piece baskets fit neatly together within the largest basket, but inside they overlap and protrude into each other’s spheres. Nearly all of them touch.

It’s a fitting metaphor for the mixed-media exhibition Artist Community: Rhode Island at BigTown Gallery, exploring the work of nine artists who lived or worked in Rhode Island.

Although bound by geography and a modernist sensibility, at first glimpse the artists have little in common: photography, sculpture, works on paper, painting, and design are all represented, ranging from Hugh Townley’s woodworks to Bunny Harvey’s Vermont landscapes. Digging deeper into each artist’s biography reveals closer sympathies.

Persian Visions: Contemporary Photography from Iran (Art New England)

The Fleming Museum, University of Vermont • Burlington, VT • www.uvm.edu/fleming • Through May 20, 2012

Ahmad Nateghi, Untitled, 1998

By turns abstract, edgy, and haunting, the photographs in Persian Visions: Contemporary Photographs from Iran fully transcend the geographic boundaries imposed by the exhibition title. These are not the images that have flashed across American television screens for the past ten years; they’re far subtler than that, muting everyday violence with digital multimedia, blurred focus, and the ever-present veil motif.

Subject matter simmers just beneath the surface, at times brought to a rolling boil by Fleming curator Aimee Marcereau DeGalan’s decision to juxtapose the contemporary prints of the traveling exhibition (toured by International Art & Artists, Washington, D.C.) with nineteenth-century photographs of the Middle East in a complementary show.