Sizzling summer shows to debut at Fitchburg Art Museum featuring NH artists

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Tomorrow Won’t Do (Waiting for the Night), 2020, oil on canvas,by Manchester, NH, Artist Nathan Clark Bentley

The start of summer brings color, joy, and excitement to the Fitchburg Art Museum. Beginning this June, visitors can experience five vibrant new exhibitions in their galleries.

The “85th Regional Exhibition of Art & Craft” is one of the oldest juried exhibitions in New England. This annual show, on display June 26 through September 5, strives to discover and celebrate the artists and crafters of the region. Visitors will be inspired by the diverse array of paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculptural work by local artists on view in the Museum’s Wallace and Simonds Galleries. The show features works from New Hampshire artists: Sally Bomer, Debra Claffey, Liz Sibley Fletcher, Ania Gilmore, Ashley Nightingale, Ashley Normal, Robin Oliver, and Patricia Schappler, among others.

This summer marks the “85th Regional Exhibition.”

Of the special anniversary, Terrana Assistant Curator Marjorie Rawle reflects: “After more than a year of isolation and disappointment, I think the “85th Regional Exhibition” is a beacon of collectivity and hope. The show is of course about the incredible artwork being made in our region, but it is also about continuing traditions, coming together with your neighbors, and celebrating a uniquely creative community. All of this has endured in spite of the past year, and I think that’s what makes this year’s ‘Regional Exhibition’ something special.”

The “85th Regional Exhibition” is sponsored by Workers Credit Union with additional support from: Shea Family Fund, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Local Cultural Councils of Fitchburg, Gardner, Acton-Boxborough, Ashburnham, Auburn, Ayer, Bolton, Boylston, Chelmsford, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leominster, Littleton, Lunenburg, Paxton, Pepperell, Rutland, Shirley, Shrewsbury, Sterling, Stoneham, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster, and Winchendon.

This exhibition will be accompanied by Nathan Clark Bentley  “Waiting for the Night,” also on view June 26 through September 5, in the Museum’s Cookman Mezzanine. The show will feature brand new paintings from Bentley, the First Prize winner of FAM’s “84th Regional Exhibition of Art & Craft” in 2019.

During the pandemic, Bentley spent time reflecting on the thrills and regrets of his past. His new paintings are dreamlike narratives that combine memory and fantasy and include images and symbols from American youth culture that reference popular music, consumer products, stereotypical gender roles, and various familiar addictions.

In the Museum’s Ansin Gallery, visitors can experience “Valerie Imparato: Interwoven,” June 4 through August 29. Cambridge-based artist Valerie Imparato explores the complexities of identity in her painting, collage, and embroidery practices, focusing particularly on Blackness and womanhood.

Work by Valerie Imparato.

Her embroidered canvases represent Black women without the identifying features of their hairstyles and skin color. By substituting a colorful patchwork and adding symbolic features, Imparato challenges how Black women are often defined by others. She also reflects on their roles within the family, and societal expectations placed upon them. Imparato’s changing relationship with her mother enables her to explore identity, strength of character, and loss, as well as how individual identity affects familial relationships.

Curator Lauren Szumita hopes exhibition visitors will take away a feeling of delight and familiarity, with a deeper understanding of how one artist navigates her internal questions.

“Valerie Imparato’s colorful embroideries exude joy and confidence and are sure to provide an uplifting moment in our galleries. Her thoughtful reflections on love, loss, and being should resonate with anyone who has had to navigate familiar relationships in unfamiliar ways this past year, and those who have spent time reflecting on particular aspects of their identity will appreciate Imparato’s exploration of her own sense of self.”

Guests can view thought-provoking paintings from the Museum’s permanent collection in “Signaling Status” June 26 through September 5 in the Harris Gallery. Images carry within them a host of symbolic meanings. This exhibition explores how class, social status, and character are embedded in our visual culture.

Portraits contain symbolic objects that provide clues about the subject’s profession or personality, while activities of leisure and labor directly represent particular socioeconomic classes. Landscapes are more than a rendering of the natural environment; they reveal the status of individuals who are able to travel freely, or collective beliefs that reflect the growth, progress, or fears of a nation.

In the Community Gallery will be the showcase “Call and Response: Inside Voices” on view June 26 through September 5. The ninth iteration of the annual collaboration between ArtsWorcester and the Fitchburg Art Museum features ten works from FAM’s permanent collection alongside ten works from ArtsWorcester member artists, who have responded to the ten FAM artworks and the chosen theme. The Community Gallery is supported by a generous gift from Dr. Roderick and Donna Lewin.

This year’s theme, “Inside Voices”, was inspired by the events of 2020 and the turn inward that they required. Interior spaces of all kinds became heightened reflective zones, and this exhibition explores the deeper meanings tied to these spaces. Domestic environments, psychological subjectivity, bodies, architecture, and sculptural containment are loaded with emotions, social commentary, fantasies, memories, and more.

“Inside Voices” invites viewers to consider “interiors” in the broadest sense and to look anew at the spaces they inhabit. Featured ArtsWorcester artists include Aaron Brodeur, Elizabeth Buck, Carrie Crane, Jason Fiering, Claire Lima, Rebecca McGee Tuck, Jane O’Hara, Kate Rasche, Ron Rosenstock, and Michelle Stevens.

FAM Director Nick Capasso concludes: “Summer is always a special time at the Fitchburg Art Museum, when we focus our mission of community service on supporting and celebrating the creative brilliance and potential of our artists here in Central Massachusetts.”

The FAM staff looks forward to seeing you in the galleries this summer. Learn more and plan your visit here.

Summer Exhibition Schedule

• “85th Regional Exhibition of Art & Craft”, June 26 – September 5, 2021
• “Nathan Clark Bentley: Waiting for the Night”, June 26 – September 5, 2021
• “Valerie Imparato: Interwoven”, June 4 – August 29, 2021
• “Signaling Status”, June 26 – September 5, 2021
• “Call and Response: Inside Voices”, June 26 – September 5, 2021

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