Green Mountain Fine Art Gallery • Stowe, VT • • July 3–September 15, 2014

By: Meg Brazill

Some of the finest plein-air painters from Cape Ann, MA grace the walls of many Northern Vermont galleries. Their paintings, however, are not of ocean spray and seascapes; they depict farms and fields, rivers and country roads, pastoral landscapes and mountain slopes—in Vermont. For generations, Cape Ann artists have traveled to paint Vermont. Until Art New England’s recent exploration of this unusual migration, this connection had gone largely unnoticed. With the help of several artists and a new exhibition at Stowe’s Green Mountain Fine Art Gallery, Art New England is helping audiences discover that connection.

Cape Ann is infamous for its light—its varied and spectacular qualities. Turns out these same artists were as mesmerized by Vermont’s. These pilgrimages began in the early 20th century and grew far beyond the companionship of painting together to become a rich camaraderie. The changeable weather also appealed to a “Cape Ann aesthetic,” and Vermont’s meadows and rolling hillsides offered compositional possibilities distinct from the artists’s native seacoast. Over time, there were residencies and workshops in Jeffersonville, Morrisville and Stowe. No one has ever really connected all the dots yet the story began coalescing earlier this year when Art New England reported on Northern Vermont galleries (March/April 2014). Discussions with Scott and Sandra Noble, co-owners of Green Mountain Fine Art, sparked more enthusiasm.

Mosher AutumnPassage 2
Donald Allen Mosher, Autumn Passage, oil, 22 x 16″. Courtesy of Green Mountain Fine Art Gallery.

Green Mountain’s Cape Ann Artists in Vermont features four prominent Cape Ann artists who have kept this tradition alive, each drawing differently on the Vermont vernacular. Donald Allen Mosher’s paintings are masterful and serene with a finely crafted vision of rural America on canvas. Barns and livestock create a focal point in the distance while field, stream, and flower gain prominence in the foreground. In T.M. Nicholas’ tight, polished paintings, farm buildings and horses dominate the landscape and interplay with light and shadow. This painting is more about painting than subject.

Bold brushwork energizes Charles Movalli’s work. Tending toward the abstract, his loose brush strokes surge on the canvas, creating an excitement in an otherwise typical landscape. Bright light in The Road leads the viewer along the path to an open valley. Likewise, Sunlit Roofs, in a square format, captures the vitality of a working farm. Movalli first made the trek to Vermont in the mid-1970s. Dale Ratcliff renders an optimism in her paintings, particularly those depicting farm animals. With titles like Afterglow and Smile, and a leaning toward abstraction in her brushwork, Ratcliff breathes life into her subjects. It’s a gift to see Vermont through outsiders’ eyes.

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