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Lyndon House Opens Three New Exhibitions


DUST AND DECAY: Midway through its anniversary programming, “Celebrating 40 Years of Art,” Lyndon House Arts Center has opened three new exhibitions to escape the summer heat. “Discarded Beauty,” “The Home Show” and “Where We Live, Work and Play” reflect the spirit of the season and find inspiration through leisure.

The exhibition “Discarded Beauty,” located in the Lower Atrium, could have easily gone in several directions: Environmentally conscious eco art, folksy found-object sculptures, fragile pressed-flower arrangements or somber altars from animal remains could all have successfully fulfilled the theme on their own. Taking a less obvious approach, the works of Sarah Emerson, Manty Dey, Janelle Young and Susan Hable Smith present a considerably colorful interpretation of the potential beauty found in dust and decay. 

Emerson contributes three highly stylized landscapes that resemble mountainous skylines but are infused with jagged, fluorescent accents and hidden, wide-eyed little skulls that suggest a disintegrating environment. Dey’s mixed-media works are similarly hot-toned, revealing bright pink shadows beneath windows cut into loosely layered geometric patterns painted onto acrylic sheets. 

An installation in the gallery’s display cases by Hable   Smith of Hable Construction Design Studio repurposes discarded vintage books by giving their covers and spines a fresh coat of bold paint. Young’s large-scale, black-and-white photographs also find beauty in dust-covered items, presenting magnified images of particles collected from her workspace and cultivated in a petri dish. The glimpse into this microscopic world appears curiously similar to the view of cosmic debris through a telescope, emphasizing a parallel between worlds invisible to the naked eye.

NICE NESTS: On view in the South Gallery, “The Home Show” presents artist-designed birdhouses that were created and auctioned over the years to benefit building projects of the Athens Area Habitat for Humanity. Guest curated by Ann Hester and Alex Murawski, the exhibit required tracking down pieces from private collections, many of which have challengingly migrated away from their original addresses over the past 25 years.

From the plush, blue fur interior of Jim Barsness and Didi Dunphy’s “Triplex Moderné” to the brass gingko-leafed roof of Stephen Hollis’ “Slate House,” these are some of the most luxurious bird houses imaginable. Privileged feathered friends have taken up residence in unique homes ranging from Dan Rodriguez and Mary Ellison’s pristine Chinese pagoda, K.G. McIntosh’s row of teepees in a “Cherokee Tourist Cottage,” Randy Sewell’s Black Cat fireworks factory outlet, Mike and Peggy Pitts’ aircraft carrier and Lanny Webb’s miniature vintage RV camper.

The inaugural exhibition and show, held in April 1990 at the State Botanical Garden, featured houses by 70 contributors, including R.E.M., Gwen O’Looney and Jack Davis. Many of the homes on view in “The Home Show”—such as those by Art Rosenbaum, Paul Bendzunas and Peter Loose—are immediately recognizable by the artists’ distinctive styles. 

MUSINGS IN MOTION: “Where We Live, Work and Play,” occupying the Upper Atrium, presents sculptural and kinetic works that explore domesticity, labor and activity. The elaborate, meticulously crafted wooden works of Tad Gloeckler reexamine familiar objects through a focus on deliberate design processes. “Core,” for example, is an interactive, over-the-top mobile card that transforms into a sheltered workspace—complete with a 24-page instruction manual—all for precisely extracting apple cores. To complete “Mastery of the Mile,” an accordion-bound book stretching several feet down a narrow wooden table, Jennifer Desormeaux Graycheck has silkscreened onto rice paper the maps of over 400 miles of routes she ran while training for a marathon.

In a series of wall-bound sculptures resembling tools, Cameron Lyden employs traditional jewelry-making techniques to add metallic flourishes to weathered wooden forms, juxtaposing ornamentation and deterioration. Michael Oliveri offers a behind-the-scenes creator’s view with a portrait of a man sanding a surf board amidst a recreated assemblage of workshop tools.

The fun kinetic sculpture of Martijn van Wagtendonk and Caryn Marquardt van Wagtendonk is a playful ship decorated with found materials including feathers, twigs and bottlecaps. A system of wheels suggest that two small figures beneath the belly of the boat will strike their hand bells in a cuckoo clock fashion.

An opening reception for the summer shows will be held on Thursday, June 4 from 6–8 p.m., and Gloeckler, Lyden and the Wagtendonks will discuss their work in a gallery talk on Saturday, June 6 at 1 p.m. All three exhibitions will remain on view through Saturday, Aug. 1.

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