Art, With Breakfast
Nan Darham at the Nearburg Gallery
Are you drinking coffee this morning? Maybe (not) with a pastry in hand? Is listening to the news just about ruining your day? Switch out the CNN/MSNBC/all-network-news-programs for Breakfast with the Arts at the Black Family Visual Arts Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover NH, where an artist talk comes with a side of breakfast goodies and a hot beverage.
Had you been there a week ago, you would have had the pleasure of the company of artist Nan Darham, talking about her current exhibition on site at the L-shaped Nearburg Gallery, located just through the door of the Center from the Maffei Arts Plaza. Darham is a graduate student from Bozeman, Montana enrolled in the Masters of Arts Liberal Studies program at Dartmouth. Her artwork reflects the culture, landscape, and wildlife of the West.
The works in this exhibition span a few decades, according to Darham “ . . . from a time more than thirty years ago when I moved to Montana and some I did last month.” First impressions are of color and power, lines roughly drawn, some of the frames wood-burnt by Darham and constructed by her husband. Her animals are magical, but I am also drawn to her depictions of women in the garden. In The Garden Alison (oil pastel on paper, 1990, below) features a substantial feminine form with a strong, splayed grip; further down the gallery wall there is a sister painting in a similar setting.
The single work that speaks Darham’s personal narrative might be Avalanche Gulch Diaries, (top, acrylic on canvas 2019). Darham’s family has a long history, still in discovery, with New England, spanning generations and documented in diaries and letters written from a mother to her son after he left Montana for Dartmouth College. When I mentioned to Darham my love of food in her work, she directed me to the impossibly tall piece of cake trailed by a few errant raspberries. (Darham, with her husband, raised four children, and fed them.) And the long-limbed cats? Darham loves animals, wild and domestic. Her cats are often liquid, one depicted here draped over a book, the scarlet other in nonchalant repose.
Darham’s work has been exhibited in the offices of Senator Max Baucus, Washington DC, the Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT and is in the collection of the Federal Reserve Bank, Minneapolis MN. At Dartmouth her work has been shown in the Russo Gallery - Dickey Center and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. She will have exhibitions again at both DHMC and the Russo Gallery in the fall.
The exhibition at the Nearburg Gallery continues until March 3. Sorry you missed the breakfast? Don’t fret. Next up in the Breakfast With the Arts series is artist Matt Siegle on April 7 from 8:30 to 10:00 am. Free and open to the public.
This is Artful, a blog/newsletter about local arts and culture. After decades of law teaching, I launched a second career as a freelance writer, reporting on what I see every day in the Upper Valley. If you like what you’ve read, please sign up to receive all future posts. And please, share this on your social media by hitting the blue button.