A SoRo Art Trail Worth the Walk
Petr Shvetsov's depictions of his adopted home lead visitors on a stroll around town. Now through August 11
Letitia Rydjeski, a Randolph native who has lived and worked in Russia, attended the July 7 opening in South Royalton of an art exhibit by Petr Shvetsov, an artist from St. Petersburg, and wrote about the event for the Korongo Reader. The exhibit runs through August 11.
By Letitia Rydjeski
On Saturday, July 7, Russian artist Petr Shvetsov opened his summer art exhibit of new works in South Royalton, Vermont in an original way. Having encountered some difficulty in securing a gallery venue where his entire exhibit of new paintings and etchings might be viewed in one place, he opened his exhibit in three different places in downtown South Royalton: The Royalton Memorial Library, the Coop Food Store and in the Worthy Burger Restaurant.
A lively crowd gathered first at the library for the 2 o'clock opening, where Shvetsov mingled with visitors in both English and Russian. In the library were a series of landscape oil paintings of Vermont nature in the fading light of the summer gloaming. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Shvetsov has been summering in South Royalton, Vermont, for some 20 years now, thanks to his wife and her family, who have a summer home in area. Some of the landscape paintings could be either Russia- or Vermont-inspired, to which the artist answered that his inspiration has been Vermont.
Shvetsov describes a certain few-minute time span, just after the sun sets, that fascinates him in particular. This moment of fascination with light occurs within 15 minutes after sundown, when the sun’s light is fading, yet the western sky still radiates bright light. At the same time, the land and its colors are becoming darker by the moment. In some paintings the artist has captured that feeling of changing color, as if the observer were to give an extended look at the painting, he or she would see the colors continue to recede toward their disappearance into night. Shvetsov’s deliberate orange-yellow sky light shades fading over familiar fields and mountains assure the observer that he has carefully studied the fading orange glow of a Vermont summer time sunset. The artist himself comes across as a very thinking person, and his orange-yellow glows over darkening landscapes reflect considerable thought in portraying that phase of transition from day to evening to night.
The Royalton Memorial Library also features a collection of black-and-white etchings. Unfortunately, space limitations and lighting conditions do not do them justice. They are placed too high along the library walls for easy viewing, and the ceiling lights reflect against the glass that covers them. That said, the library staff are accommodating to visitors who might like to experiment viewing the etchings with the ceiling lights off.
The second exhibit, located just beyond the checkout counters at the Coop Food Store, features more landscapes, most featuring the orange-yellows of the gloaming, but three portray the hills and fields of Vermont in daylight. Most of the paintings are compact in size, yet the artist has created broad landscapes in small sizes to curious and pleasing effect. Some comfortable seating surrounds the wall display, making it possible to enjoy a coffee or a cold beverage while viewing the paintings.
And after one has viewed the paintings and etchings at the library, and then walked over to the co-op for the second collection, it’s definitely time to eat. The Russian artist has become an aficionado of the American burger and French fry, and in The Worthy Burger restaurant he exhibits a collection of oil paintings devoted to these two American restaurant staples. These fast-food oil paintings present both color and lightness, with greens and oranges of the lettuce and tomatoes against a clean white hamburger bun, to the light brush strokes with which he paints them. Even a portion of French fries, which at first thought might seem a relatively uninteresting theme for an oil painting, acquires about five different shades of color, from white to gold to burnt sienna and crisp browns, which the artist paints in an appetizing jumble just waiting to be picked up and eaten several at a time – no greasy look to this food at all.
And by that point, it’s time to go and order a burger, some truffle fries and a cold beer to wash it all down. A worthy encounter with art topped off by some worthy food. A great way to spend a summer’s afternoon.
These exhibits will be open at the three venues during their regular business hours through August 11.
Petr Shvetsov, a resident of St. Petersburg and a graduate of the Leningrad Academy Art School, has produced work in various media, from paintings to installations to sculpture. Since the early 1990s he has exhibited his work in galleries in Russia and around Western Europe, as well as in the U.S. His works also form part of the collections of, among others, the Russian State Museum, the Russian National Library, the New York City Library, the British Library, the Saxon State Library (Dresden, Germany), the State Library in Berlin, Germany, as well as at numerous universities both in the US and Western Europe. He is a regular summer visitor to South Royalton, Vermont with his family.