The Fearsome Foursome opening on June 19 at the AVA Gallery in Lebanon NH was more than a hot ticket. Art aficionados were streaming in the door before the 5 pm starting time. Within thirty minutes, over one hundred people were crowding the small Stone Carving Studio to share an evening with four artists and their work.
Winkie Kelsey, Jo Tate (pictured above), Ann Semprebon and Stephanie Reininger have long associations with the AVA Gallery as artists and as instructors. They have also taught in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth. Their work for this exhibition included sculpture, pen and ink drawings, and paintings of people, places and flowering plants. Tate, who has led groups of painters to various European locations, exhibited landscapes from Tuscany and New Mexico. Reininger, who has also held workshops at the Long River Gallery in Lyme NH, has chosen to work in watercolor, according to her bio, because “there’s nothing to catch on fire.”
The viewing of the work was punctuated with some face time with friends, as attendees partook of conversation and artfully (no surprise given that it was AVA) arranged hors d’oeuvres. When the crowd continued to swell, one could step into the next gallery for a moment of quieter reflection. There I meditated upon the works of Gruhler, Wrend, Hawkins and Karol, a different exhibition that had had its opening at AVA earlier in June. Gruhler’s paintings reminded me in part of a more clearly delineated Mark Rothko; Wrend's kinetic sculptures of the work of Alexander Calder.
The AVA Gallery, originally located in Hanover NH, is an exciting work of art in its own right. In 2003, AVA acquired the former H.W. Carter Overall factory just off the green in Lebanon, NH. Soon after it began a renovation that has garnered awards, including for its green and sustainable design. It has impressive gallery spaces, artists’ studios, and an outdoor sculpture garden. While it is best to be inside the building enjoying the art, one of my favorite scenes, especially while driving past in the dark of winter evenings, is of a warmly-lit AVA, spilling light—and sometimes people--onto the adjacent sidewalk.
The Fearsome Foursome is part of a collaboration with OSHER, and will continue until July 18. Gruhler with the other three artists can be seen until July 10.