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BWA's Artful Ice Shanty moves to Main Street until April 5

BRATTLEBORO: When the call came out last fall from the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center to create an “Artful Ice Shanty”, a group of nine Brattleboro-West Arts members got inspired. It would be a part of the village that would be on view at the Retreat Farm across Route 30 from the Retreat Meadows, a popular spot for ice fishing and actual functioning ice shanties. A full-on winter festival celebrating art, culture, and the great outdoors, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Harris Hill Ski Jump added to the enticement to offer up our creativity to the festivities. 


After the nine-day run at the Retreat Farm, the BWA shanty titled “Something’s Fishy” got lifted onto a truck and it made its journey into downtown Brattleboro, where Petria Mitchell and Jim Giddings, BWA members and co-owner of the Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts gallery on Main Street, arranged for it to bring cheer to the gallery’s Annex in the Brooks House Atrium until April 5.  Along the way on Main Street, a dog stretched its head out of a car window with great curiosity about what was passing by in the other lane.


When thinking about how the group could encompass works made from a variety of materials such as cloth, yarn, clay, wire, glass and even painted styrofoam, we came up with the idea of an aquarium that a figure on top of it would be fishing in. Stephen Lloyd, retired architect, put our visions into a sketch, and our imaginations took off.  


Sharon Myers, fiber artist and quilter, knitted seaweed and grasses and moved on to sew sea worms or what she called “creepy crawlers” and colorful fish. Kris McDermet gathered her best sparkly fabrics that became fins for a large fish.  Karen Kamenetzky made a sea turtle with her signature stitched designs and hand-dyed cloth.  Naomi Lindenfeld used her colored porcelain to sculpt marbleized mythical bottom-dwelling creatures as well as fish bones and a suspended fish. Marta Bernbaum used gold foil from Hanukkah gelt to form into a mobile school of fish. Intricately patterned, fluid, wormlike pieces of Josh Bernbaum’s glass scraps grace the sandy bottom. The giant painted styrofoam fish with the teeth of nails and fins of wood shingles was dreamed up and executed by Walter Slowinski.  He also contributed three colorfully painted fish that are made of clay pressed into a gelatin mold. And Cyndi Ferrante brightened up some shells by painting them and put some glass “eggs” into a clamshell. 


In the upper ice world sits a precarious shelter, with a nod to the creations of our beloved BWA member Jackie Abrams, who recently passed away, constructed by Slowinski.  A charming red, cloth bird that is perched in its roof was created by McDermet. Lindenfeld, Kamenetzky and Myers outfitted the bundled-up fishing bear sitting on a chair, all found and purchased from Experienced Goods thrift shop.


This is the accompanying artist statement:


Something’s Fishy!

A box contains a fantastical underwater scene. A bear sits on a chair next to a precarious shelter and fishes into the “water”. 

Two different worlds, invisible to each other.

Icy, snowy, (“bear-en”) above.

Wild, whimsical, exuberant below

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