Entertainment, Reviews

Alex Bottinelli’s Works at Front Gallery

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photo by Paul Fixx
Alexandra Bottinelli’s art-is-process show is on display at The Front Gallery in Montpelier through March 31.

MONTPELIER — The contrast between Alexandra Bottinelli’s sensuous organic forms and the angular writing on The Front Gallery’s windows lets the visitor know immediately that they are in for a treat. Open entering, one’s eye is drawn to a row of sculptural forms along the left wall. Driftwood, prepared with beeswax, tree resin and pigments in varying hues, is sometimes boxed, sometimes stacked, sometimes horizontal, sometimes vertical, and sometimes arranged in a bowl, but always enticingly presented in a way that invites the gallery visitor to contemplate the sense of the arrangement.

Alexandra Bottinelli, “atlantic one-hundred & forty-two” 2023

Bottinelli lives and works in Hardwick. The wood assemblages she calls cairns are so artfully arranged as to appear completely random, yet closer inspection reveals that the randomness comes from a practiced eye and hand, making it almost impossible to recreate. Despite that, the artist’s instructions for care of her work advise in part, “every year take apart…keep track so you can put back as originally stacked.” So, for Bottinelli, it seems that “art is process” extends beyond the artist, even into the homes and hands of her patrons.

Across the gallery, Bottinelli’s more two-dimensional works of collage and color field painting beckon. From brilliant reds to subtle pastel greens, many of the pieces incorporate found objects that only the in-person experience will yield the full flavor and three-dimensionality of.

Bottinelli shares the journey that brought her to this month’s show, “Along with cherishing the box of fat flat-sided crayons we received on the first day of school, and the subsequent art-time of coloring, my other favorite activities were cutting up the Sears & Roebuck catalog to make ‘home scenes,’ collecting stamps, and trading cards in the school yard . . .

Alexandra Bottinelli, “vessel eight” 2021-2023

“Some thirty years ago I finally settled on the fact that not only did I want to be an artist, but more importantly, I could be an artist — by reclaiming those passions from my youth. I started searching for images that had power and then cutting, collecting, and arranging them. Horses, the Horn & Hardart Automat, salt water, people, leaves, Catholic iconography, snow; these are the ‘early memory as icon’ on which I build my work. One artistic limit is that I never make duplicates of the images I use in collage; it’s a way of surrendering control.

“I work toward beauty and truth, settling on acceptance of ‘good enough.’ Each work is an attempt to unify through building, layering, balancing, enlivening, deconstructing.”

Assured it was okay with the artist, another visitor offered this writer a red-hued piece of what appeared to be stone, but turned out to be a surprising light piece of waxed and colored driftwood, polished to a lustrous sheen, very smooth to the touch and oh-so-pleasant to hold. (I didn’t verify the claim of being okay to touch.) A bowl full of them created an enticing piece.

Hardwick artist, Alexandra Bottinelli’s, “art Is process” exhibits through March 31, at The Front Gallery, 6 Barre St., Montpelier, thefrontvt.com. An artist’s talk is scheduled for 5 p.m., Friday, March 22. More information on the artist may be found at alexandra bottinelli.com

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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