Approaching The Bennington Center for the Arts, one is reminded of landscapes quintessentially Vermont. Built in a field off Gypsy Lane on the outskirts of Bennington, this is not the traditional locale for a museum. Based on the barn paintings of Eric Sloane, its architecture honors the Center’s commitment to traditional Americana. White clapboards cover a meticulously maintained primary building and connecting galleries, with a recreated covered bridge just beyond. The Center now holds seven galleries and a 300-seat theater.
Several life-sized sculpted moose flank the Center’s entrance, including a fiberglass rendition completed by Berkshire artist Suzanne Little-Stefanik. With an apologetic expression and adorned with a pelt of painted grape leaves, the sculpture is regional yet eclectic, understated yet pronounced — contrasts which appear throughout the museum’s varied offerings.
“Impressions of New England XIV” is one of four temporary collections on exhibit through December 21. “We have been doing this annual exhibition since 2000,” said Jana Lillie, The Bennington’s director of operations. “It is open to artists [from] across the country but must depict one of the six New England states.”
Within this thematic framework, the individual paintings in “Impressions of New England XIV” show a strikingly broad range of technique, media and presentation. “Farm Road,” a compelling oil by Margery Jennings, illustrates the apparent disorganization of the natural growth along a country lane, set against a discreet foundation of compositional order. This contrast between the seemingly random and an almost invisible sense of order recurs among the many pieces on view.