Catamount Arts Holds Juried Art Show

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St. Johnsbury -- Katherine French has a talent for turning empty rooms into collections of fine art.

Recently, she has taken to the monumental task of turning the menagerie of paintings, drawings, photos and sculptures that lay in stacks on the floors of the main gallery at the Catamount Arts Center into a well-planned and visually appealing collection.



Her efforts come in advance of Catamount Art's first annual Arts Connect juried art show exhibition that will be held Saturday, during which, 75 artists from the region – many of who hail from Vermont's Northeast Kingdom – will join the center in presenting their works.

French, – who began her current role as gallery director for Catamount Arts in February after retiring from her position as executive director for Danforth Art in Framingham, Ma. – will act as the juror for the show.

A number of local artists have been chosen to exhibit their art during the show, such as: Sharon Kenney Biddle, who has taught in the Danville Public Schools; Martha Elmes, who is an adjunct arts faculty at Lyndon State College; Bill Tulp, who teaches classes at Catamount Arts; and perhaps most prominently, Judith Unger, a ceramic sculptor whose SHINE exhibition, with her mother Ruth Unger, premiered at Catamount Arts in December 2012.

Unger's ceramic work -- which has appeared in such prominent galleries as the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. and pier 60 in New York City – features large blocks of architect's clay that Unger forms into sensual figures of women.

Unger's submission for the Arts Connect show uses her distinctive style, in which the feminine forms of her sculptures hold strong to their containing vessels. But the figures retain a graceful quality that shows that women can be strong and unafraid of their sensuality, Unger says.

Much of the inspiration for Unger's latest work also comes from her travels to Venice, Italy during the last three years. Since then, she has included such features in her work as 22 carat gold, which she brushes on during the glazing process.

Submissions for entry into the competition opened September 14 and ran until October 12. To be considered fro the gallery, participating artists were asked to pay a $60 processing fee, which would allow them to submit as many as five pieces of art created within the last five years. The processing fee also included a one-year Catamount Arts Professional Artist Museum Membership, which gives discounted admission to various films and performances at Catamount Arts.

Prizes for artists exhibiting their works in the show include $500 for first place; $250 for second place; $100 for third place. In addition, six works will be chosen as honorable mentions that will receive special recognition, though the artists will not receive any prize money.

The exhibition is funded, in part, by the Fay Slover Fund and The Art Connection in Boston, which, according to the group's website, enriches underserved communities through expanded access to original works of visual arts.

But Unger, who lives in St. Johnsbury and says she often walks to Catamount Arts for their classes, movies and events, says that her Northeast Kingdom town provides the perfect backdrop for artistic creation. Art, she says, thrives in St. Jonsbury.

A reception for the Arts Connect exhibition will be held November 21 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Catamount Arts Center at 115 Eastern Ave., St. Johnsbury. The reception is free and open to the public.