BRATTLEBORO — Four local artists - Tina Olsen, Jillian Farwell, Roxcell Bartholomew, and Lauren Watrous - will be featured in a new exhibition at 118 Elliot, 118 Elliot St., when it reopens Friday, Sept. 4.
The exhibition is 118 Elliot's first since the pandemic hit in March. An outdoor, safe-distance reception will begin at 4 p.m. in the back lot, which will be closed to cars. “There will be plenty of space to safely gather while taking turns viewing the exhibition in the large gallery, which will be very well-ventilated,” according to a news release.
Olsen, who grew up in Springfield, Mass., traveled widely and eventually moved to New York, where she taught art at the Walden School and worked therapeutically with the arts at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island for many years.
She found a creative community at River Gallery School on Main Street and began to work in oils after moving to town to live near her daughter.
“I paint the wildness of things - the land and people and what lives freely beneath the surface of things,” Olson said. “When I paint, I feel like my real self. I don't like to know what it is at first glance. I just want it to look alive - as if it just happened.”
Bartholomew, a self-taught artist living and working in Brattleboro, grew up in the Caribbean and moved to the United States in his teens. He rediscovered his interest in painting while in the military.
“I realized that creating has always been a tool for acknowledging and processing the indescribable elements of my experience,” he said. “Whenever I am creating, there is no choice but to be present within the space called me. I simply try my best to breathe life into the surreal colorscapes, geometric shapes, and human forms that arise within my stream of consciousness.”
Watrous grew up in Brattleboro and teaches studio arts at River Gallery School and Community College of Vermont. Her recent works are intimately scaled oils that relate person and place.
Farwell has spent most of her life in West Dummerston, where her family has lived for more than 100 years.
“I was born into a philosophical, very verbal intellectual heritage, but I was always more comfortable in the natural world,” she said. “I found meaning through art making. It is the process of clarifying as you work - a whole-body way of knowing. I began with clay, which brought me into my body, and now I work in oil paint. I don't know how that unfolds. I understand my life better when I paint and look at my paintings.”
All the artists met through the River Gallery School.
“Together, we are helping each other understand our own creative processes in this group show,” Farwell said.