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Photograph by Amy Stein from “Road Trip: America Through the Windshield,” an exhibit that opens on June 28 at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.

The Arts

Road trip

Auto-themed art showcased in exhibit that opens on June 28 at BMAC

BRATTLEBORO—School is out and summer vacation has arrived. That means it’s time for a road trip, which is exactly what the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) is offering visitors beginning Saturday, June 28.

That is the day six new exhibits open at the museum, including “Road Trip: America Through the Windshield,” a contemporary take on the classic summer getaway.

BMAC members are invited to preview the new exhibits and meet many of the featured artists at a cocktail reception the previous evening, Friday, June 27, at 5:30 p.m.

Opening alongside “Road Trip” are the related exhibits “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” and “Your Space/USA,” as well as “A World Transformed: The Art of Jessica Park,” “Spotlight on Small,” and “Deco Details: Photographs by Andrew Bordwin.” All six new exhibits will remain on view through Oct. 26.

Filling the museum’s Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason Gallery, “Road Trip: America Through the Windshield” features the work of six contemporary artists who explore the ways in which automobiles and the road have transformed our relationship with the American landscape.

Gregory Thielker’s hyper-realistic paintings depict the landscape literally through the windshield, sometimes obscured by raindrops on the glass. Jeff Brouws’ photographs of roadside storage units cast those ubiquitous structures as monuments to our culture of acquisition.

In her series, “Stranded,” photographer Amy Stein captures the anxiety felt by those forced to emerge from the protective cocoon of their cars and wait for roadside assistance. These artists and three others present a fascinating, if slightly unsettling, take on the American road trip.

Inspired by “Road Trip,” the exhibit “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” showcases six decades of vintage car advertisements. From the 1920 Studebaker Six Roadster to the 1979 Buick Electra, these finely tuned ads make clear that a car’s appeal is often less about power, speed, style, and comfort than it is about freedom, the open road, and the places you’ll go.

Playing alongside the print ads is a video reel containing car commercials of the 1950s and 60s, including the classic one for which the exhibit is named, sung by Chevy’s iconic spokeswoman, Dinah Shore.

Extending the theme even further, BMAC’s newest participatory exhibit, “Your Space/USA,” takes visitors on a virtual road trip.

Here, travelers of all ages are encouraged to learn about the 50 states by perusing a selection of postcards from all the state capitals. Through these historic and ephemeral souvenirs, visitors can play games that help them learn about state birds, trees, flowers, places, and history — without ever leaving the museum.

“A World Transformed: The Art of Jessica Park” presents the colorful, visionary paintings of Williamstown, Mass., artist Jessica Park, who has struggled all her life with autism.

Early on, making art allowed Park to connect with the world around her and eventually to communicate. As she matured Park developed her own visual vocabulary consisting of precise, accurately rendered architectural drawings, colored in rainbow hues, and set against skies filled with astronomical objects and fanciful lights.

Recognized today as an accomplished artist, Park is the subject of a recent art biography by curator Tony Gengarelly. “A World Transformed” represents the largest collection of Park’s paintings exhibited to date.

“Spotlight on Small” occupies the museum’s intimate East Gallery, showcasing small-scale artworks that invite the viewer to look closely at details. Altoon Sultan describes her egg tempera paintings as “small in size but large in scale.”

Elizabeth Sheppell and Adrienne Ginter both create multilayered works, Sheppell in six-inch squares of thick paint, and Ginter in airy, hand-cut, colored-paper narratives. Laura Christensen embellishes antique postcards and enshrines them in hardwood boxes. Jen Violette creates life-size fruits, vegetables, seedlings, and miniature landscapes out of blown glass.

The stunning silver gelatin prints in “Deco Details: Photographs by Andrew Bordwin” transport viewers from the museum’s South Gallery to the tops of Art Deco buildings and inside their closed lobbies, places not visible to passersby at street level.

Bordwin’s photographs allow us to experience the dazzling designs and craftsmanship of these early-20th-century masterpieces. Bordwin captures the rhythms and proportions of the spaces. His finely shaded gray tones make his prints appear to glow from within, much like the chrome buildings themselves glow when struck by sunlight.

For more information on the exhibit, and other events planned for the coming months, visit www.brattleboromuseum.org/calendar.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #260 (Wednesday, June 25, 2014). This story appeared on page B1.

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