Twenty years ago a vacant storefront on Route 7 that was being used for storage caught the eye of renowned folk artist Warren Kimble. It was owned by a local bank, which agreed to hang art in its windows when Kimble proposed the idea. He didn’t know it at the time, but Brandon Artists Guild had begun.
“It grew from there,” said member Robin Kent, who has been with BAG since the beginning. “We eventually bought the building.”
BAG celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a series of themed exhibits. “The Art of Wood,” opens May 3 and runs through June 25, as part of a series including “The Art of Water” and “The Art of Fire” later this year. The public is invited to the free opening reception 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 3.
Kent says the exhibit will be a great cross-section of different interpretations on the theme, from all of its 60-plus members, some of whom use wood as a medium, and some who don’t. It’s also the first time the entire guild will exhibit simultaneously, and the first time it has worked on the same subject collectively.
“Because it’s the 20th anniversary, we thought it would be a delightful idea to include every member in every exhibit all year,” said artist and member Judith Reilly. Part of the fun, she added, is to “see what artists who do not work in wood will come up with.”
Reilly herself falls into this category. She’s a fiber artist, and her challenge was to create something wood-themed without actually using wood.
“I heard the phrase ‘knock on wood,’ and I knew exactly what I was going to do,” she said of the spin she put on the saying.
Reilly says the themed exhibits encourage artists to stretch their imaginations while still remaining true to their work.
“For me, it always takes me somewhere I wouldn’t have gone before,” she said.
Kent is one of the artists exhibiting who does work in wood, drawn from her collection of scrap pieces.
“I use old barn boards that have been donated to me by people who don’t want their barns anymore, and also plywood and regular lumber,” she said, and explained her process as, “whatever I see in a shape of wood. The leftover pieces I toss in a big woodpile are almost like my palette.”
“I go through those shards and if I see a foot or a hand or head or something and I start from there,” she continued. “It’s not always from top down or bottom up, it’s whenever I see a piece that gives me a hint of what it could be.
“It should be pretty interesting,” Kent said of the exhibit. “Lots of variety for different tastes. And it makes the whole guild a cohesive, we’re-all-in-this-together kind of thing.”