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Green Mountain Watercolor Exhibition Illuminates The Barn At Lareau Farm

Kate Hartley
This painting, titled "Turtle Sitting," is one of the works featured in the 2015 Green Mountain Watercolor Exhibition, curated by Vermont painter Gary Eckhart.

Vermont painter Gary Eckhart is an award-winning watercolorist and curator of the Green Mountain Watercolor Exhibition, which is up now at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield.

Eckhart says the exhibition, now in its fourth year, started as a fluke. “We have a small gallery in our town, run by the Arts Association, and in 2012, an artist that was scheduled for a show backed out at the last minute for family reasons,” explains Eckhart. “So I called eight of my friends from the Vermont Watercolor Society and said, ‘Let’s put a watercolor show together quickly.’ It turned out to the be the most popular show of the year at the gallery.”

After that show, Eckhart approached the Valley Arts Foundation about making it a major watercolor exhibition, with the goal to go national in 2016. “Well, this year, 2015, well ahead of schedule, we have artists from eight states, Vermont and Mexico,” says Eckhart.

Artists are allowed to submit two paintings to be juried into the show each year, says Eckhart. “Then I have three artists from the area … who looked at all the images and selected the 61 images for the show,” he says. “As curator, then I look at paintings that they selected and I make sure it’s a well-rounded show. So this year, I picked 10 additional paintings to give a broader scope to the show.”

The exhibit is in a barn, which Eckhart says is one of the oldest in the Mad River Valley. “I still remember it having horses in it a number of years ago. But George Schenk, the owner of American Flatbread, has cleaned it out and has now turned it over to us for its summer use as a gallery,” he says. “The place is spotless inside; people can still see the historic structure and it’s a fabulous place for viewing art … lighting for the artwork is spectacular and people love it because the artwork looks so at home in the barn.”

Credit Janet Laird-Lagassee
This painting, titled "Revolution," received a gold medal from the judges at the show this year.

Eckhart says the most popular painting in the entire show is one called “Revolution.” “It is a very simple painting, actually, the subject matter is nothing more than a shelf with an American flag draped over it and a hat,” describes Eckhart. “And on the shelf sits a mirror reflecting the wall opposite the painting, and that’s what really gave the judge of the exhibition a reason for giving this painting a gold medal.”

Eckhart says they encourage children to go through the show by setting up a scavenger hunt to try to get them into looking at the art. He says they ask for children to find a painting with fire in it, a painting with bird eggs and more. “So the kids will easily spend 15 to 20 minutes going through the show looking for all these things and then we give them a little prize when they turn their sheet back in,” he says.

The show has been successful so far this year, says the curator. “For the first five days of the opening, we’ve had 1,300 people go through the show already and all to rave reviews saying they can’t believe a show of this caliber is located in the center of Vermont,” he says.

The Green Mountain Watercolor Exhibition is up through July 25 in the barn at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield.

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