2019 VERMONT ARTIST TO WATCH
Andrew Orr, Richford
Consider for a moment that Realism, an art movement dating back to the 1840s, has always been a radical act. In its founding, the Realists challenged the propagandist role of art in society by painting everyday life and, in doing so, elevated the mundane to the level of royalty and religious mythology. As Modernism unfolded, this insistence on painting the world as it appeared counter-balanced other art movements that prioritized the ideas and feelings of the artist. Realism, in its various incarnations, showed, unflinchingly, the ugliness and beauty of the world. It portrayed the struggle of poverty, the horror of war, and richness of the land; often at times when others championed an alternative narrative or downplayed the skill and effort that goes into Realist paintings.
The Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville specializes fostering the sort of American Realism championed by its founder, Alden Bryan. Director Mickey Meyers explains her work, “I want to show our audience something that is unique. In presenting realist landscape painting, this may seem like a contradiction in terms, but indeed, it is what constitutes our particular challenge at the Bryan, opening the door to mystique every single day.” She points to Andrew Orr as one artist doing such work.
“Artists to Watch 2019” is a survey of contemporary Vermont artists that appeared as special feature in Vermont Art Guide #9 and in an exhibition at the Vermont Arts Council, January 7-February 28, 2019. ABOUT THE PROJECT | GET THE MAGAZINE
“Orr never stops growing. Not only that, but he literally moves into an area (in our case, into Waterville) to get to know a geographic area as well as he possibly can through painting it,” said Meyers. “In Waterville, he took on water and rivers and the brook behind his house and mastered every inch of their banks and bodies throughout the seasons, as only a ‘local’ can know them. Never one to shirk a challenge, Orr has now just recently moved to Richford (near the Canadian border) to a huge farmland property perched high on a hill, where he is learning a whole new vocabulary of vistas and views. We expect him to be there for quite awhile. We are gratified by his sense of discovery.”
Realists challenged the propagandist role of art in society by painting everyday life and, in doing so, elevated the mundane to the level of royalty and religious mythology.
“I make art to bring something of aesthetic beauty to the world,” writes Orr. “Our world is so dark right now, so uncertain. I want to bring joy into this darkness. I make art as a landscape painter as a means of conveying to the viewers of my work the beauty of the natural world through representational painting. Through my work I hope people will recognize the fragility of the natural world, the need for conservation and preservation. It is so much more than a bucolic landscape.” At a time of great debate over how we relate to the natural world, that is a radical act.
This Artist to Watch 2019 is a special feature in Vermont Art Guide #9. Vermont Art Guide is a full color, quarterly, printed magazine about contemporary art in Vermont. Our goal is to connect the entire state’s art community by sharing information about exhibitions and events; present a picture of Vermont art and art in Vermont, to tell our story; and to build an audience for Vermont art inside the state and out. We hope you will join us and SUBSCRIBE TODAY.
About the Artist
Painter Andrew Orr holds a BA in music from Oklahoma Christian University with continuing studies at the University of New Mexico and studies with Carol McIlroy, David P. Curtis and Joseph McGurl. His work has been shown across the United States, including three solo shows at the Southern Vermont Arts Center and in national and regional exhibitions of the Oil Painters of America, the Salmagundi Club, the American Artists Professional League and the Guild of Boston Artists, of which Orr is an elected member. A solo show of Orr’s work, “A Vermont Spring in Oil”, is at Tilting at Windmills Gallery in Manchester Center, February-April 2019. Orr is a board member of the Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville. He lives and works in Richford. See more at www.andreworr.com.
About the Curator
Bryan Memorial Gallery, Executive Director
“I want to show our audience something that is unique. In presenting realist landscape painting, this may seem like a contradiction in terms, but indeed, it is what constitutes our particular challenge at the Bryan, opening the door to mystique every single day.” Both Alden Bryan (1913–2001) and Mary Bryan (1906–1978) were painters who moved to Jeffersonville in 1939. Their legacy is the Bryan Memorial Gallery, founded in 1984, which promotes the work of Vermont and New England artists. Learn more at www.bryangallery.org.
Images (top to bottom) by Andrew Orr:
Evening Glow of Mount Mansfield
In the Cool Shelter of Summer
Looking North from the Lower Field