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New Hampshire Originals: Works by James Aponovich, Carol Aronson-Shore, Jon Brooks, James Coates and Gary Haven Smith

James Aponovich, Appledore, oil on canvas

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Gary Haven Smith, Rocaille, glacial boulder, granite and gold leaf, 2007

Monday, March 31, 2008 - Saturday, May 10, 2008

Exeter, NH (March 5, 2008)—Phillips Exeter Academy's Lamont Art Gallery will present "New Hampshire Originals: Works by James Aponovich, Carol Aronson-Shore, Jon Brooks, James Coates and Gary Haven Smith," from Monday, March 31, to Saturday, May 10, 2008. An opening reception for the exhibit will be held Friday, April 4, from 6:30-8 p.m. The Lamont Gallery is in the Frederick R. Mayer Art Center on Tan Lane. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Each of the artists were named Lifetime Fellows by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. An artist is named a Lifetime Fellow after receiving three or more Fellowships since 1981, the year the award originated.

In 2006, the New Hampshire State Arts Council named visual artist James Aponovich as the state's fourth and newest Artist Laureate. A native of New Hampshire and UNH graduate, Aponovich is internationally renowned, with his works found in many private and public collections. Although he began his career as a portraitist and figure painter, since the early 1980s, Aponovich has become known for his elaborate, still-life compositions.

He began to exhibit regularly during the 1970s, and in 1976, had his first significant solo show at New England College in Henniker, NH. Since then, Aponovich has exhibited widely in galleries, as well as having works in the collections of major museums, including: the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston; the Portland Museum of Art; and the Hackett-Freedman Gallery, in San Francisco, among others. He has been honored with a one-man retrospective at The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, and was designated a Lifetime Fellow by the State Arts Council in 2006, in recognition of multiple competitive awards over three decades. Aponovich has served with the State Arts Council as an Arts Councilor, and was artist-in-residence at the NH Institute of Art where he mentored young, emerging artists.

Aponovich's paintings have been described as ". . . complex compositions set against idealized Italian landscapes. A strong undercurrent of surrealism, (he) endeavors to depict the ultimate object and his opulent fruits, fabrics, flowers and vessels function as archetypes. His paintings focus on the ideal, as opposed to the real, and his work is neither iconographic nor narrative." As Aponovich says, "In my work, if I am painting a peach, it's not just the soft, furry flesh outside, but the hard pit inside. That's the kind of meditation on objects that I seek in my approach."

Carol Aronson-Shore moved to New Hampshire in 1980 to join the faculty of the University of New Hampshire, to teach painting and drawing. In 1999, she was named Professor Emeritus. Since 1976, her artwork has been exhibited in over 130 exhibitions across the country. In 2000, the White House Historical Association selected Aronson-Shore's painting of Sarah Josepha Hale to help celebrate the White House Bicentennial. The painting has become part of the White House's permanent collection and was reproduced in the official White House Calendar. The State Arts Council commissioned many of her pastels and paintings under New Hampshire's Percent for Art Program. In 2001, Aronson-Shore was commissioned to create the painting Symbols of Freedom for the 2001 Governor's Arts Award for Distinguished Arts Leadership.

About her works, Aronson-Shore says, "My work explores a range of responses to the natural environment. Light, its presence and absence, its transformations of form and color, its character and symbolism, is the common thread that runs through the many forms my work has taken over the years. For me, light is the touchstone metaphor for vision, insight and transformation. It allows me to move from the factual observation of plein-air work to the poetic visualization of an inspired, finished piece. My memories of an experience as well as my imaginative visualizations always have at their core the character of a particular light."

Jon Brooks is a sculptor and furniture maker from Manchester, NH, who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He has taught and lectured widely at institutions as varied as the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, the University of Tasmania, and the Haystack School of Crafts in Maine.

A leading figure in New Hampshire's studio furniture movement, Brooks is highly regarded for his ability to combine craftsmanship, inventiveness and poetic whimsy. Examples of his work can be found in the collections
of The Currier Museum of Art, in Manchester, NH; the National Museum of American Art, in Washington, DC; the American Craft Museum, in New York City; the Queen Victoria Museum, in Launceston, Tasmania; and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Brooks has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad, including the "Craft Today, USA" European Tour and "Celebrating American Craft," at the Danish Museum of Decorative Art in Copenhagen, Denmark.

About his work, Brooks says, "A lot of what I do is to cooperate with chaos. It usually happens during the first hour of my working day when I am in the forest foraging or trail making, wandering, and meditating that I come upon them, the bent or wiggly tree forms which are loaded with suggestion. It's the conception of each new piece. In the studio the empty spaces of arms, legs, heads, or seats slowly and carefully become filled in with my interpretation and process. I love the carving, shaping and construction processes each piece requires as it develops and unfolds. History, allegory, metaphor, function and color are my allies on this creative journey. I enjoy making furniture and sculpture that you can dance with, that is participatory, playful and suggestive. Function is often a chosen limitation. For me working with wood is a subtractive process, removing all that is unnecessary. It's like eating an artichoke, peeling the outer leaves to get to the heart."

James Coates completed his master's at Clemson University and his bachelor's at the University of South Carolina. His work is represented in the collections of Saint's Memorial Hospital in Lowell, MA; the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium in Concord, NH; the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and in numerous private collections. Coates has received sculpture fellowships from the South Carolina State Arts Commission and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts. He is head of the Art Department and a professor of sculpture at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Using permanent and impermanent materials, Coates' sculptures focus on the fragile relationship between nature and our dependence on shelter, both physically and psychologically.

Describing his artwork in a larger context, he says, "I have always been interested in the broad concept of shelter and landscape. I am particularly attracted to ancient and primitive architectural form and the formal shape that these structures often take. Their simplicity and proportions intrigue me. I continue to use natural materials to focus on the temporal and fragile qualities found in nature and our built environment. The work represented in this exhibition continues my interest in the formal shape of shelter and specifically focuses on vernacular forms in landscape. The miniaturized landscape vignettes emerge atop uprooted and inverted stumps that function as poetic metaphors of our evolving troubled environmental condition. The cast handmade paper forms employ earth tones and colors inspired by my association to the southeast and southwest red dirt landscapes."                                                                                                            

Gary Haven Smith received his bachelor's from the University of New Hampshire at Durham. He has exhibited widely throughout the United States, Japan and the Netherlands. Smith's work is a part of many private and public collections, including: The Currier Museum of Art, in Manchester, NH; the Hynes Convention Center, in Boston, MA; Hotel Cosima, in Tokyo, Japan; The Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery, Keene State College, in Keene, NH; The Diamond Library, University of New Hampshire, in Durham, NH; as well as works completed for the New Hampshire Percent for Art Program. Smith received grants in 2007 from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and George Sugarman Foundation; The New Hampshire State Library in 2006; Concord Hospital and the NH Department of Transportation in 2005; and an Enrichment Grant from the Greater Piscataqua Community Foundation in 2002.  

Smith is challenged by the massive, naturally occurring stone that surrounds his home. ". . . I have been 'harvesting' glacial boulders off of my own property . . . Cutting and shaping transform the granite, yet I try to retain an element of its natural origin. I use diamond-embedded saws, a large granite wire saw, sandblaster, grinders and carbide-tipped tools to cut, carve and work the granite. Architectural cuts or voids creating negative space are made to create a dialogue between the natural world and a reflection of our technological world . . . The materials I choose and the designs created are reflections of past cultures," he says. "I try to achieve a format to look at our technological lives today and how it connects with the natural world we live in . . . By pushing the stone to its limits, I try to create an analogy between the fragileness of our own human spirit and also the inherit durability of this spirit."

Gallery hours are Monday, 1-5 p.m., and Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, contact the Lamont Gallery at (603) 777-3461 or visit our Gallery webpage at http://www.exeter.edu/arts/8160_9232.aspx. For directions to Phillips Exeter Academy, call (603) 777-4330. A complete list of upcoming events is available on the Phillips Exeter Academy public events line at (603) 777-4309 and on our website at http://www.exeter.edu/.

Phillips Exeter Academy is a coeducational, independent preparatory school that was founded in 1781 and originated the system of instruction known as Harkness teaching in 1931. In the spirit of its charter to foster both goodness and knowledge, a Phillips Exeter Academy education will now be free to any admitted student whose family income is $75,000 or less. Committed to educational excellence, the school meets all demonstrated financial aid needs of its admitted students, making the Academy effectively "need blind." The diverse student body comes from a wide variety of geographic, economic, racial and religious backgrounds approximately from 45 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and 23 foreign countries.