All posts by Emily Gowdey-Backus

Diane Englander to Exhibit at Grubbs Gallery

“Red Slashes Through Green” by Englander

Between 2006 and 2007 Diane Englander went from working for local New York City nonprofit companies concerned with poverty and disenfranchisement to being a full time collage artist. Works by Ms. Englander will be exhibited at the Williston Northampton School’s Grubbs Gallery from January 30 to February 27.

“I was brought up going to galleries and museums,” said Ms. Englander. “My own expressive energy must have simmered internally for years, occasionally emerging in photography, in quilt making, in other tentative explorations, and certainly in providing opportunity and materials for my children to create.”

Since 2007, Ms. Englander has exhibited her work at more than 15 galleries, schools, and other venues in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Ohio. Ms. Englander’s work has been featured on the Painters’ Progress and Lisa Pressman Art blogs. She has won both the Allied Artists of America Award from the Butler Institute of American Art and the Artist’s Grant from the Vermont Studio Center.

Grubbs Gallery is located at 40 Park Street, Easthampton, in the Reed Campus Center and is open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 to noon.

Concert Pianist Stephen Porter to Give Lecture and Recital in February

Stephen-Porter-BlogIstanbul, Paris, Lake Como, New York City, and Rio de Janeiro are just a few of the cities where award-winning concert pianist Stephen Porter has played. The New England Conservatory of Music graduate will give a lecture and recital at the Williston Northampton School on Tuesday, February 18 at 7:30 pm.

Mr. Porter’s program for the performance at Williston includes Beethoven’s “Six Bagatelles, Op. 126,” Chopin’s “Two Nocturnes, Op. 62,” as well as a number of works by the French composer Claude Debussy.

A student of the famed Paul Doguereau, Mr. Porter is considered an expert in the works of Debussy. As the artist-resident of the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2012, the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth, Mr. Porter was asked to play the composer’s complete Piano Preludes.

Currently, Mr. Porter’s performances are centered on the works of Beethoven and Debussy. Mr. Porter has played with numerous groups and artists including the St. Louis Symphony, mezzo-soprano Krista Rivera, and the Brahms Piano Quartet.

The performance at Williston will take place in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center at 40 Park Street in Easthampton. The event is free and open to the public.

Williston Fine Arts Faculty Exhibit in Grubbs Gallery

Williston’s Grubbs Gallery opened the second trimester with an exhibit of work from the Fine Arts faculty. Two art teachers, a photography teacher, the gallery’s curator, the costume designer, and an art intern all have personal work on display. Below are artist statements from each faculty member, in which they describe the story behind the art, the focus of their work, and their perspective as artists. The Williston Visual Arts Faculty Show will be on display through January 6 with an opening reception on Sunday, December 15 from 2-4 p.m. See the full gallery schedule here.

Cardboard Installation by Rachel Chambers
Cardboard Installation by Rachel Chambers

Rachel Chambers, Middle School Fine Arts Teacher
I’m a Materials Studies/Installation artist from Philadelphia, PA with a M.F.A. in fiber arts and a M.Ed. in education. My site-specific installations are created with cardboard, knitting, or paper. I start by making small pieces that I then fit into a larger space.

For me, the best part is the way so many interactions take place, which is ironic for me because my process demands such solitude. In order to see the entirety of my composition I have to interact with both my work and the site. Then there’s the interaction with how time of day changes the shadows on the walls and highlights on the medium. There is even an interaction with sound, almost like a recording studio, if there’s enough cardboard surrounding the viewer. Lastly, because of the installation’s size, viewers can usually step into the work; the interaction with the audience has to be taken into account.

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“Flume” Opens in Grubbs Gallery

Flume, an exhibit by Western Massachusetts artist Deborra Stewart-Pettengill, will be on display in the Grubbs Gallery from August 29 to September 30.

The show is based on a collection of sculptures inspired by her previous show GATHER. In Flume, Ms. Stewart-Pettengill experiments with creating a sense of motion and direction within a tightly contained space. “These pieces challenged me to investigate the nature of value within the realm of transparency, and fragility,” said Ms. Stewart-Pettengill.

“Designing them to be installed directly on the gallery wall allowed me to keep each form fluid, and flexible as it relates to the particular space in which it is located,” she said.

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Local Artist Speaks at Grubbs Gallery

"Tiepolo's Dream," by Stern

“The only way for me to know what I’m doing, and do it again, is to let chance come into the equation,” said Northampton artist Chuck Stern.  This may sound contradictory, but, in his work, Stern puts emphasis on the evolving nature of creativity.

“Often it’s the things that are so beautiful that create a block,” he said.  Likening his painting process to writing Stern said, “Sometimes you put a sentence down, and it’s so cool, and you just want it there but the whole rest of the story is stuck with this sentence that has no relationship.”

The “blocking” imagery is covered in his art with white paint and then erased, to let the life of the painting continue.  But if you look closely, Stern leaves the white paint light enough to, “let the history of the painting show through,” he said.

“I like the way he describes his process so well, and encourages students to slow down and think of their work in terms of visual ‘problems’ to be solved,” said Natania Hume, Grubbs Gallery curator and a member of the Fine and Performing Arts faculty.

When Stern paints he approaches the canvas by asking himself, “What’s next?”  In the end he likes his paintings to be cohesive, but during the creative process he views his work as puzzles with a life of their own, he said.

Stern described the way he navigates his paintings as similar to camping before the invention of GPS and cell phones.  One student said he liked, “how [Stern) lets go and sees where the painting takes him.”

Ali Moshiri Exhibits at Grubbs Gallery

Influences from Kandinsky, Miró, and Rothko can be seen in the colorful canvases that jump off the walls of the Grubbs Gallery, which now resembles a modern art gallery of the 1930s with Ali Moshiri’s Surrealist paintings.

Born in Iran, Moshiri was educated in the United States and England.  He returned to Iran for medical school, completed his residency in Cincinnati, and then began working at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1984.  According to his website, as, “a young and untrained, but passionate, artist, Moshiri’s sketchbook was a constant companion in his spare time.”

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Hidden/Private Part II Exhibits at Grubbs Gallery

As a recent guest curator at Easthampton City Arts, Williston Northampton art teacher Marcia Reed designed an exhibition, which highlighted the private side of artists.

“I do work that I never show to anyone, ever, and I have a lot of it,” said Reed. “I exhibit this, that, and the other thing, but I never show this private side, this hidden side.”

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Grubbs Gallery Exhibits Bon Bons: Repurposed Manufactured Materials

SHUTAN 2011 Bldg Tar ClustersBon bons, meaning “bon, or good,” typically refers to small confectionery treats. The exhibit at Grubbs Gallery from March 2 to April 20, while not of confection, serves up a small sampling of how different manufactured materials can be re-purposed and made into art.

Suzan Shutan’s work straddles the worlds of two and three dimensions. Her art is driven by its materials, most of which come from manufactured products such as roofing paper, yarn, straws and beer can holders that have been manipulated to comment in part upon the accumulation of cultural debris.

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