These halls decked with art: What’s on tap at galleries around the area

  • “Angel with Blue Halo,” oil on canvas by Kyle Mitchell, at Anchor House of Artists in Northampton. CONTRIBUTED/MICHAEL TILLYER

  • Illustration from “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle (1997, Penguin Random House). “Eric Carle’s Book Birthdays,” which runs through March 5 at the Carle in Amherst,, is dedicated to 13 titles by the seminal kids’ writer that are marking either their 20th, 25th or 50th anniversaries. CONTRIBUTED/ERIC CARLE MUSEUM

  • Image courtesy Michael Tillyer

  • “Iron and Spotlamp, Pitcher and Vase,” oil on canvas by Peter Mishkin, at Anchor House of Artists in Northampton. CONTRIBUTED/Michael Tillyer

  • “Secret Basketball Court,” acrylic on panel by Andrew Haines, at William Baczek Fine Arts in Northampton. CONTRIBUTED/WILLIAM BACZEK FINE ARTS

Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 14, 2022

It may be holiday season, but there’s still plenty of art to be seen this month in area galleries — and you might find a few gift possibilities at some of the exhibits. Here’s a selected look at what’s on view.

Anchor House of Artists, Northampton — This year has marked Anchor’s 25th anniversary as an exhibit space and supportive forum for artists who have struggled with mental illness. Sculptor Michael Tillyer initially created the space, near an auto repair business on Conz Street, under modest circumstances. But over the years he and his wife, Susan Foley, have transformed the gallery into a more spacious setting, with five separate showrooms, for a wide variety of art; over 250 artists have shown their work here since 1997.

This month, to complete a year’s worth of anniversary events and shows, Anchor is displaying work from some 30 artists who have exhibited there in the past. Consider the oil on canvas painting “Angel with a Blue Halo” by the late Kyle Mitchell that depicts a glossy, somewhat devilish-looking woman with, yes, a blue halo, and an untitled abstract oil on panel work by Ben Hotchkiss that offers colorful, varied geometric patterns and motifs that give the piece a distinctive sense of energy.

Tillyer calls Hotchkiss’ painting a “fine example” of work by a “well-established Outsider artist” from New York City, which points to the larger mission Anchor has established in the last several years. The gallery includes what’s known as the New England Visionary Artists Museum, an expanded space featuring work by a range of people whose art may be outside the mainstream but is unique and daring.

Anchor, which maintains a considerable archive of artists’ work, also hosts a number of public events each month, and December is no exception. On Dec. 17, the gallery will host an anniversary dance from 7 to 9 p.m. with the R&B band Higher Help.

Michelson Galleries, Northampton — More than a decade before the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art came on the scene, Michelson Galleries had staked out ground in showcasing work by illustrators of children’s books. Since 1989, the Northampton space has celebrated children’s book art at the end of year, and this year’s display is the gallery’s 33rd such exhibit.

The celebration, which began last month and runs through Jan. 15, features work from dozens of artists and illustrators, from storied past names like Maurice Sendak and William Steig to contemporary figures here in the Valley such as Diane deGroat, Grace Lin and Mo Willems.

There’s new work as well as old favorites on display, including Mark Teague’s colorful and evocative dinosaur illustrations, which he creates for the popular “How Do Dinosaurs …?” series of books he authors with the Valley’s own Jane Yolen. New this year is the recently published “The Little House of Hope,” written by Terry Catasus Jennings and illustrated by Raul Colon. It’s a story that recounts the author’s move from Cuba to the U.S.; Colon, who grew up in Puerto Rico and now lives in New York, is a celebrated artist whose work has also been showcased at the Eric Carle Museum.

Need any more reasons to stop by the exhibit? Visit rmichelson.com and follow the links for the show, especially “33 Reasons to visit the 33rd Annual Children’s Illustration Celebration.”

Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst — Not to be outdone when it comes to children’s illustrators, the Carle currently features a number of exhibits, including one dedicated to the museum’s late founder. “Eric Carle’s Book Birthdays,” which runs through March 5, is dedicated to 13 titles (“The Very Long Train,” “Hello, Red Fox” and others) by the seminal kids’ writer that are marking either their 20th, 25th or 50th anniversaries in 2022-2023.

A newer exhibit, running through April 9, is dedicated to over 60 artworks that have been added to the museum’s collection within the last five years, covering over a century of illustrations, including an 1899 ink drawing by British artist Charles Robinson (1870-1937). All told, some 53 artists are represented in the exhibit, from E.H. Shepard of “Winnie-the-Pooh” fame to current Greenfield artist Astrid Sheckels.

And there’s still time to see “Celebrating Collage,” an exhibit featuring the work of 20 books artists who specialize in collage. That show, which was mounted earlier this year to recognize the Carle Museum’s 20th anniversary this year, runs through Dec. 31.

Gallery A3, Amherst, and The Oxbow Galley, Easthampton — Gallery A3 this month features “Small Wonders,” a holiday show that offers small, accessible works from current members in the collective. Mounted on 6-by-6-inch or 5-by-7-inch wood panels, the works include paintings, photographs, prints, and mixed media pieces that are priced between $50 and $150 — making them potential gift items.

At The Oxbow Gallery, meanwhile, the front room is dedicated to work by Deborra Stewart-Pettengill and BZ Reilly. Stewart-Pettengill, a painter, printmaker and sculptor, describes her work as “an ongoing exploration of natural and organic forms that often repeat, overlap and interact to create a tension between movement and stillness.” Reilly creates small structures by “reclaiming, repurposing and transforming” a variety of materials and found objects.

Oxbow’s back gallery, like Galley A3, features a variety of small artworks by the collective’s members that are designed in part for holiday sales.

William Baczek Fine Arts, Northampton — The Main Street gallery is continuing its winter exhibition through January, a group show that features the work of painters such as Scott Prior, Jeff Gola, Chie Yoshii and Robert Sweeney.

The Baczek Galley is known in particular for its landscape artists, but also currently on exhibit are impressionistic printmaker Laura Gurton, who makes archival pigment prints with mixed media, and Italian artist El Gato Chimney, who creates surreal tableaus of gouache and watercolor typically centered on birds and other animals and strange structures.

There’s also work by Andrew Haines, a painter whose landscapes focus not on pastoral or picturesque scenes but gritty real-life settings, including a dilapidated, snow-covered urban basketball court, where graffiti covers a concrete wall behind one basket and barren tree trunks merge into a gray background.

Earlier this month, the Baczek gallery marked the retirement of Lisa Thompson, A.P.E.’s longtime associate director who’s worked with the organization since 1996 and overseen hundreds of exhibits and other events, with an open house and reception Dec. 10

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.