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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Burlington Gallery Works To Promote Vermont's 'Undervalued' Art

Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center
A new exhibit called "Finished" opens at Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center in Burlington on May 1, featuring works from graduates of the Vermont Woodworking School. Art exhibitions are one of the ways Frog Hollow helps to expose Vermont artists.

Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center, a gallery and shop located on the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, showcases work from 175 artists throughout the state. 

Its executive director Rob Hunter says their main goal at the gallery is the exposure and appreciation of Vermont fine art and craft. Frog Hollow does this through sales, exhibitions and educational programming.

So, how does an artist get in? “We have a jury process,” explains Hunter. “It’s a selection process by artisan peers. We have about 175 artists on exhibit in the gallery. We do a great job in promoting them. At least, I like to think we do.”

And Hunter says the gallery has the sales to back it up. He says that Frog Hollow is responsible for roughly 1 percent of the annual $40 million attributed to gallery sales in the state. “I’m pretty happy about that. I think it really speaks to how we’re promoting artists and how we’re able to get artists’ work out there,” he says.

The gallery director says that although the quality of the art being produced in Vermont is “unsurpassed nationwide,” artists in this state don’t value their own work as much as they should. “Part of the report we were looking over with Tourism Marketing [of Vermont] basically said that there are more people creating in Vermont, across the board, per capita, and they are really making about half of what other states, say compared to New Hampshire, they are making about half value-wise for the pieces that they are creating,” says Hunter.

Credit Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center
Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center
This piece is part of "Finished," an exhibit opening on May 1 at Frog Hollow Gallery in Burlington. Frog Hollow State Craft Center executive director Rob Hunter says a lot of locally harvested materials are incorporated in the wood pieces.

“So I think people really do it because they are passionate about it, but I don’t know if it’s confidence levels or what it is,” he says.

To help expand the reach in organizing craftspeople throughout the state, the Vermont Crafts Council and the Department of Tourism and Marketing have organized a group called Craft Leaders of Vermont.

Hunter says they are looking forward to a new opening at Frog Hollow called Finished, which is a show that features pieces by recent graduates of the Vermont Woodworking School. “It’s always a treat to see what’s coming [into the gallery], because the work is just experimental in some ways. It’s taking traditional ideas and really putting a modern spin on it,” says Hunter. “This show seems to have a heavy Asian influence to it. It’s got beautiful lines … and a great use of materials. You’re going to see a lot of locally harvested materials that are being incorporated into these pieces.”

Hunter says Frog Hollow is always discussing whether they are still meeting the needs of artists in 2015 as they did in 1971 when they first started.

Finished by Vermont Woodworking School graduates opens Friday, May 1 with a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Frog Hollow in Burlington.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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