By Puloma Ghosh
Burlington, VT – Burlington, one of the cultural hubs of Vermont, doesn’t fall short in its share of art galleries. However, throughout the town there are many nontraditional spaces for art worth exploring during a visit or a casual weekend outing. Even in the midst of a daily routine, art is around you.
One of these spaces is The Men’s Room, located in downtown Burlington on 106 Main Street. The salon has simple décor, with a classic color palette of black, white and red throughout. While dipping in for a routine haircut, one is actually walking into a gallery hidden within its walls.
The current exhibit is black and white photography by Paul Hagar. The exhibit, called “On the Street and Across the Lake,” fits seamlessly into the space. Hagar’s photographs offer alternate views of the area, taken from nontraditional angles and distances. The soft-focused, high-contrast traditionally printed photographs give a nostalgic feeling to the town it depicts.
You can view Hagar’s work instead of flipping through glossy magazines or while getting your hair cut or colored, and leave the salon with a fresh haircut and a fresh dose of photography. The Men’s Room hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Just south of The Men’s Room, on 377 Pine Street, is Speaking Volumes, a local used books and music store brimming with old records and well-worn paperbacks. Between the tall shelves of books, side-by-side with old prints, is a small gallery space that caters to local art.
Currently hanging on the wall are screen prints by the Iskra Print Collective, a local group of printmakers. The Iskra Print Collective is responsible for designing album covers and promotional material for many indie bands and local acts. Though only a handful of their prints are currently on display, they are a sampling of one of the places where art and music intersect.
Keep an eye out for future exhibits at Speaking Volumes, a space in which a variety of artistic mediums come together. Speaking Volumes is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A little further south, near the coast of Lake Champlain, is the Magic Hat Artifactory, which is in itself a visual experience. Magic Hat’s flagship brewery, the Artifactory, is open for tastings and tours. The tour takes you through hallways full of eclectic decoration, and turns into a single hallway that is actually a gallery space hidden within the tour. Introduced in 2012, this Artspace features local artists for a two month, with opening receptions on Burlington’s First Friday.
Currently on view is UVM alum Colin Byrne. Although a business major, with artist parents, Byrne couldn’t stay away from art even while at school. A combination of traditional and digital paintings, Byrne’s work also fits with the Artifactory’s aesthetic. Many of his traditional pieces are done on wooden panels, letting the grain of the wood show through the paint. Eyes, ears and mouths feature prominently in his work as he explores the ideas of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, do no evil” visually through his work.
“I think the eye can show a lot and bring a human element to everything,” Byrne explained. “Where they’re looking brings out the focus of the painting and the content I’m trying to show.”
“One Eye,” an acrylic painting on birch wood, gazes at the viewer with a single eyeball in the middle, with vine-like branches tethering it to the center, painted in shifting colors. Rather than you focusing on the painting, the painting appears to be focusing on you. It draws the viewer in with its gaze and moves the gaze across the panel with its lines. See more of Byrne’s work at http://www. colin-byrne.com.
The Magic Hat Artifactory is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon p.m. to 5 p.m. Byrne’s work will be on display in the space through September.
These are only a few of the many places that are hidden throughout the town. Art doesn’t need to be confined to gallery spaces, and if you look carefully, alternative art spaces will catch your attention all around you.