BARRE — This year’s annual Paletteers art show will be held in the Milne Room of Aldrich Public Library from July 20 through Aug. 16. This year’s show is dedicated to longtime Paletteer Conrad Beaudin, of Barre.
The Paletteers was formed in Barre in 1957 by Leslie Bell and 16 others — all students of the late Stan Marc Wright, of Stowe. Joe Fowler was the first President. From the beginning, the Paletteers have held an annual summer art show. Initially, those shows were held in the Barre City Park, with artwork displayed on snow fences. Hundreds of people attended. In more recent years, it has been held at the historic library.
Beaudin was born in 1930. He is the son of Eva and Armand Beaudin, who emigrated from Canada and was a member of a partnership in two granite quarries with more than 50 employees. At the time Beaudin entered high school, training was available in the granite trades. Through that program, Beaudin learned mechanical drafting (which may have helped him later transfer photographs to large-scale paintings). That mechanical drafting skill led him to Texas in the U.S. Air Force, working in an engineering draftsmen division. After his service, Beaudin returned to Vermont and married his sweetheart, Lorraine.
Beaudin’s interest in the fine arts also started early. Attending night school during high school, he learned color theory and perspective from Paul Winters. By 1955, he was painting in oils. He was a member of the Paletteers in the early days and won prizes in City Hall Park. Beaudin said he admired the work of Joseph Aja, an early influence on his style. Other artists he said he admires are Van Gogh for color, Thomas Cole for landscapes and the work of Andrew Wyeth.
For 41 years, Beaudin ran his own granite company, Riverside Granite, employing as many as five people. For 18 years, he managed the company by himself, making granite stone duplicates, specializing in smaller finished works and polishing. He sold the business in 1995.
Knowing how to identify stone quality and use modern technology to cut, shape and polish stone resulted in Beaudin being consulted on projects outside of Vermont. He said a highlight of his career was involvement in providing and polishing two of the oldest slabs of petrified wood in existence for the Smithsonian. Beaudin said he continues to be fascinated with ancient fossilized stone.
Specializing in autumnal scenes, Beaudin remarks, “Nobody really does it like I do.”
Currently, he is using acrylics, and prefers a large format.
His frames are particularly idiosyncratic and memorable. Once you have seen them you will recognize and remember the method. He mounts the stretched canvas on a wooden backboard that extends around the painting.
Beaudin said he once provided a seascape for his brother, but his brother took it out of the frame. Beaudin decided the painting showed up better without a “traditional” frame. Now he continues to mount his canvases, which are painted down the four sides, onto a piece of finished wood.
Sometimes he has added objects to the frames. In one instance — a painting of an 1915 truck — Conrad mounted some transmission gears onto the frame, first rusting them with salt treatments.
Beaudin has provided artwork for auction to raise money for causes he supports.
Scholarship winner Randi Carpenter will also have work on view, as well as other members of the Paletteers of Vermont.