Alongside the Burlington waterfront lies a lesser-known land beyond creemees and sunsets; one populated by photographers, metal workers and painters alike.
I attended my first-ever “First Friday” event, in which dozens of art venues and restaurants across the South End opened their doors free of charge to the Burlington community to promote local artists April 7. Aptly named, the event takes place on the first Friday of every month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Beyond enjoying the plethora of free brownies and viewing an impressive array of artwork, I was fortunate enough to speak with two women in the Burlington art community, both of whom are involved with galleries in the Downtown area.
My first stop was the HAVOC gallery on Sears Lane, one of the furthest galleries featured on the Burlington Art Map. HAVOC is a self-proclaimed “abstract contemporary gallery” featuring both local and international art. When they’re not displaying international artwork, the local flavor of Vermont artwork is brought by metalwork artist Bruce McDonald; HAVOC also serves as his studio space.
The gallery is a single room with the exhibits in front and McDonald’s studio in the back. It’s only view of the outside being a large garage door behind heaps of metal and wire contraptions. “In the summertime we put the bay doors up because you can smell the lake and it’s all green back there, which makes it an open air gallery,” said gallery director of HAVOC, Sarah Vogelsang-Card.
We discussed the gallery’s diverse displays of art from McDonald and international artists, and how their collection fits into the Burlington art scene.
“We don’t show Vermont-type art work; we exhibit abstract work, a lot of minimalism, high-profile work… so it’s the kind of artwork you would find in New York City galleries,” Vogelsand-Card said.
Although McDonald brings international work to the community, HAVOC prides itself on bringing a new outlook to the community.
“We love the Burlington art scene. We want to be able to contribute new visions, new ideas, and we generally don’t show Vermont artwork so we try to bring in artists from California and Virginia so we’re infusing the community with more art,” Vogelsand-Card said. “More art to see, more art to buy and more art to enjoy.”
She emphasized the importance of introducing international work to Burlington.
“We’re always flushed with new work of Bruce’s, but to be able to show international artists is really fun for us,” Vogelsang-Card said.
There are currently two exhibitions in the HAVOC gallery along with McDonald’s permanent display year-round. Next on the HAVOC agenda is their party in June celebrating McDonald’s piece, “Visible Indivisibles” reaching completion.
Just up the road from HAVOC on Pine Street was my next stop, Brickwork Art Studio. The space is home to fourteen studios featuring artwork of all shapes and styles.
“We’re primarily painters, printers, and I’m the only photographer,” said Jude Domski, Brickwork resident photographer. “We each rent our own spaces, but because of the close proximity, there’s always a bit of cross-pollination.”
The exhibits rotate monthly, as artists’ work alternates from the main gallery to smaller corridors.
Domski’s residency at Brickwork has influenced her work beyond what she initially expected. Her newest exhibit, “Shape of Water,” illustrates her artistic evolution since her time at the studio.
“I usually do digital, mostly event photography,” Domski said. ”[Shape of Water] is my first foray into more abstraction, which is not necessarily typical of what I do.”
This exploration began whilst looking for an art space, where Domski took into consideration multiple venues throughout Burlington.
“One venue was Karma Birdhouse, which is more media-focused. Had I been there, I would have been more influenced in that direction,” Domski said. “But it just happened that I chose to be here and I’m around more people doing abstraction. It’s been good for me as an event photographer to get out of that very literal mindset.”
After my time spent speaking with Jude and Sarah on that First Friday in April, I can honestly say I’ll be back exploring the Art Map on the next First Friday in May. Each venue offered me an entirely different experience, all within the comforts of Burlington’s borders.