Vermont State Forester Nancy Patch didn’t realize she was starting an art collection when she purchased a painting 30 years ago. She liked a friend’s artwork enough to purchase a painting from him and hang it in her home. Now thirty years later, more than 100 pieces from her vast collection of primarily Vermont art are installed at the Montgomery Center for the Arts in a fall foliage exhibition entitled For the Love of Art.
The paintings are as reflective of the diversity of community arts in Vermont as one can hope to amass in the casual way of this collector. A Vermont state forester by profession, Patch spends much of her week in the woods, walking the land, encountering the elements. Her ease with the rudiments of nature is apparent in how she brings her vision indoors, unfretted by art historical genres.
Herself a 5th generation Vermonter and active participant in local arts groups, there’s a purity to her desire to connect with the artists in the first place, and experience the adventure of discovering new art. A wide range of art from realism to abstraction lives in a comfortable mix on the walls of her home.
A lot has happened over the last 30 years as Vermont art increasingly assumes a leading role in the rich destination that is the Vermont experience, and Patch has been collecting for most of it. In an age of digitizing and downsizing, as she decides which works will move with her into the next phase of her life, she’s sharing the fullness of her vision with the public.
The Montgomery Center for the Arts is a good setting for this personable and eclectic collection of paintings. The intimacy of the artwork set against a soaring ceiling, modular stained glass windows and shiny floors gives the exhibit interesting contrast and scale. And with paintings extending over every available flat expanse of wall, what it ultimately reveals is the very singular vision that led to collecting them in the first place.
And Nancy Patch’s collection tells a story that’s not only about her own personal experience, but about the rich legacy of Vermont art in creative economic times as well.