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

An Artist's Depictions Of Vermont's Industrial Past

Courtesy of Tom Leytham
Tom Leytham's paintings depict Vermont's industrial buildings, including this one in South Royalton.

A rolling brook, a classic New England white-steepled church, a covered bridge amid a backdrop of brilliant fall foliage - these are not the images that Vermont artist Tom Leytham is interested in.

Instead, Leytham's watercolors give visual voice to Vermont's industrial past. He paints run-down mills and other large, hulking facilities that may not evoke the bucolic scenes most people think of when they envision the Green Mountain state, but are very much part of its identity.

Vermont Edition spoke to Leytham, whose exhibition is currently on display at the Bennington Museum.

On discovering a new landscape

Leytham says that he first became interested in these industrial buildings because "they're hiding in plain sight."

"I remember driving through a dirt road in Eden, Vermont and coming to a six-story asbestos processing plant in the middle of nowhere," he says.

On the 'architecture of necessity'

It was on a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where Leytham says he started stumbling upon these buildings.

"I was just astounded by the real beauty of this architecture of necessity," Leytham says. "Rather than just trying to look pretty, it just shows its muscles."

Leytham says that the architecture fits the landscape, and provides easy evidence of the "hand of man."

On the the buildings' uniqueness

According to Leytham, a mill building in Tunbridge is probably one if the most "unique, vernacular buildings in the state."

When the mill added on a wood shop to the building, they had to build on an addition.

"It kind of looks like a Pokemon addition. It's like this larger building consuming the other small building," Leytham says.

Although the building is located in a historic district and is near both a covered bridge and a miller's cottage, the mill is what Leytham says caught his eye.

On his artistic process

Working with watercolors is a complex process, and can be tricky because you constantly have to keep working at it, Leytham says.

"The sun moves, so the light changes," Leytham says. "So I'll do some studies of the work ... and then come back to the studio and work." 

Leytham explained that doing the basic work takes about 12 to 16 hours, and this has to be done continuously.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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