ST. JOHNSBURY – Two new exhibitions open this weekend at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury. Ann Young’s “In a Dangerous Time” explores the role of art in troubled times with paintings about the intersection of helplessness and hopefulness. Chuck Trotsky’s “Slightly Irregular” challenges ideas about who gets to make art, who gets to identify it, and even who gets to own it.
Young was commissioned by Patrice McDonough of Peacham to paint three pieces concerning Sahrawi human rights defender Sultana Khayya. Khayya’s native home of Western Sahara is the last active colony in Africa, which is controlled by the US-backed Moroccan military. A committed nonviolent activist, Khayya is a prominent leader in her community of indigenous women resisting the ongoing assault on her people and the plundering of her home’s natural resources, including phosphorous and fish, which are sold to sustain industrial food systems worldwide. “In a Dangerous Time” includes the commissioned pieces.
Young’s exhibition “In a Dangerous Time” is showing in Catamount’s Fried Family Gallery now through October 30.
In Catamount’s Rankin Gallery, large acrylic paintings and small mixed media pieces are attributed to Chuck Trotsky. Trotsky is a fictitious online persona born of the late-night imaginings and collaborative ambitions of Vermont artist Ben Barnes. Trotsky’s paintings, iconic images pilfered from pop culture and paired with anachronistic props or contrasting settings, reference the digital world of his 2013 origins.
Smaller mixed media paintings, often created with spray paint or house paint and hand cut stencils on paper or wood, are “less precious,” Barnes says, allowing more risk and a looser aesthetic that welcomes happy accidents and quirkier (and more affordable) pieces. Trotsky pieces, both large and small, challenge understanding of the familiar with artificial elements or unexpected combinations that sometimes toe the line between humor and provocation.
For more information about Catamount Arts Gallery exhibitions, curatorial opportunities, or additional programming at Catamount Arts, visit catamountarts.org.