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Danforth mounts parallel shows

By Nancy Shohet West
Globe Correspondent / July 5, 2012
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Katherine French, director of the Danforth Museum in Framingham, puts a clever twist on the idea of getting two for one.

Every year, she organizes a high-profile juried exhibition called “Off the Wall,” which is curated by a guest expert and draws upon submissions from the almost 500 member artists of the museum. Choosing among the pieces that do not make it into “Off the Wall,” French herself curates a second show, called “Community of Artists.” Both collections are on display at the Danforth through Aug. 5.

This year’s juror for “Off the Wall” was Cody Hartley, director of gifts of art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Hartley chose 103 works from 80 artists among the 477 who submitted work.

“Cody Hartley had a particular vision for a show that would be about surroundings and nature and fabricated spaces,” explained Debbie Hagan, director of communications for the museum.

“Once he’d made his decisions about which works to include, Katherine French made another selection of 150 works from 133 artists to include in ‘Community of Artists,’ which is different from ‘Off the Wall’ in that it is not necessarily tied to an identified theme, but are still considered remarkable works that really belonged in a community show,’’ she said.

Most of the artists represented are based in New England, though a few work in more distant states including Texas and Florida. And although both shows are an annual event at the museum, they still differ from one year to the next.

“What I think is very striking this year is how many entries we received that are very strong in photography,” Hagan said. “Another very noticeable factor is the variety of media. You’ll find a lot of fabric work, textiles, a significant multimedia aspect. “

One artist whose work reflects this variety of media is Ilana Manolson of Concord.

“My background is that of a painter and botanist,” Manolson said. “What I’ve been working on is man-made maps and how they reflect the way we walk through the world.

“I was given the copyrights to some 17th- and 18th-century maps from the Boston Public Library. I manipulated them with a computer and then transferred them onto plaster. In this work, I’m trying to deal with contemporary landscapes and the reality that we all move a lot and travel a lot. I’m somewhat directionally impaired and I love to travel, so I’m always looking at maps.” Manolson’s piece in the show “Off the Wall” is called “Islandscape.”

Meanwhile, Arlington-based artist Claire Burke works with “found paper and painted paper, using bits and pieces of things to create a work,” as she explained it. “I use pieces of my own old work to create new things; in other words, I cannibalize my work. I like to combine drawing and painting materials, such as acrylic paint and oil stick, because I like that feeling of intimacy you get with drawing combined with the boldness of painting.”

Burke’s contribution to this year’s “Community of Artists” exhibition is called “She Wasn’t Always There,” a mixed-media collage painting on paper.

“This is an abstract piece that has a reference to the figure. My work is always in some way about fragmentation, loss, and identity reconstruction — the idea that we are constantly making and unmaking ourselves in the process of living,” she said.

This is Burke’s second year in “Community of Artists.” She also had a piece in “Off the Wall.” “It’s a great opportunity for regional artists,” she said. “I’m so glad the Danforth does this.”

Both “Off the Wall” and “Community of Artists” are on exhibit at the Danforth Museum, 123 Union Ave. Museum hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $11 for adults, $9 for students and seniors, and free for children under age 17 and members.

For more information, call 508-620-0050 or go to www.danforthmuseum.org.

ART AT LOCAL LIBRARIES: Twenty-five members of the Stony Brook Camera Club will be exhibiting their work at the Norfolk Public Library, 139 Main St., through the end of this month. A reception with the artists will be held at the library Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. The Stony Brook Camera Club, in its 42d year, promotes enjoyment and proficiency in all aspects of photography. The club meets weekly from September to June at the Wrentham Senior Center. For library hours, call 508-528-3380 or go to library.virtualnorfolk.org.

This month, the Dover Town Library, 56 Dedham St., is exhibiting work by Natick artist Rob Franco, who in the past year completed a series of paintings depicting the wild ponies of Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. Paintings of boats and dogs appear in the exhibit along with those of the wild ponies. For library hours, call 508-785-8113 or go to www.dovertownlibrary.org.

Anne Nydham of Needham is exhibiting her rubberized block prints at Acton Memorial Library, 486 Main St., through August. A former art teacher, Nydam developed her interest in block printing technique while working with her students, and finding that rubberized blocks were much easier to work with than wood. Nydam has employed the technique in illustrations for numerous children’s books. For library hours, call 978-929-6655 or go to www.actonmemoriallibrary.org.

Carlisle artist Gail Fitzpatrick has a solo show of paintings in the Graham Gund-designed gallery at the Lincoln Public Library, 3 Bedford Road, through July 30. The show consists mainly of landscape paintings in oil, acrylic and mixed media. Grouped into three categories, “Daily Small Works,” “Garden and Pond,” and “Two-hour Paintings — Late June,” her work explores nature’s hidden geometry, as well as color and light. For library hours, call 781-259-8465 or go to www.lincolnpl.org.

Nancy Shohet West can be reached at nancyswest@gmail.com.

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