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Guyon: Escape winter in a gallery walk

03/03/09 5:55PM By Annie Guyon
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(HOST) If you're tired of shoveling snow, writer and commentator Annie Guyon has the perfect antidote to the late-winter blahs.

(GUYON) Willa Cather once said, "Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen."

And nothing says shabby like mud-season, when our world has undergone its annual shift into a sepia-toned dirtscape.  Having been somewhat housebound over the last few months - by blizzards, sleet, ice storms and arctic temperatures-most of us are chomping at the bit to escape right about now.  On Facebook the other day, a friend's post said simply, "I need to get out of here" and I knew exactly what she meant.  With inclement weather having made drives to parties and other events on stormy nights too dangerous, we're all suffering from at least a little bit of isolation that the bleak landscape does nothing to assuage.  
 
The end-of-winter stupor combined with the monochromatic scene outside can have me searching for one good reason to trudge through the slush and head into the colorless horizon - barring a flight to Barbados that is.
 
But here in Vermont there's actually a darn good reason that's guaranteed to inject at least some color into everyone's winterized psyches and complexions.

Gallery walks. 

Once a month, in various towns around the state, galleries keep their doors open late, often holding receptions with cheese and wine and, best of all, people.

And sure, maybe it's because I'm an art writer that I gravitate towards events like these but art really does speak a universal language that can make us connect in ways no amount of Facebooking or Netflix viewing can.

Whether it's engaging in a lively debate with a friend about the meaning of an oversized canvas that is entirely chartreuse or sharing wonder with a complete stranger over a sculptor's remarkable dexterity-art makes us connect as human beings in ways nothing else does.  At concerts or movies we sit silently and maybe exchange a few comments afterwards but with art, we can't escape it or our response to it, and we learn more about ourselves and one another because of it.

I remember this time last year at the Brattleboro Gallery Walk, which takes place on the first Friday of each month, I was at a reception that was packed to the gills and people were greeting each other with an enthusiasm rarely displayed during warmer months.  I ran into a usually reticent neighbor whom I hadn't seen since autumn.  He gave me a big bear hug and then, ignoring a comment I made about the terrific art, launched into a play-by-play of his ongoing ice dam saga.

Sure he might have been there for the camaraderie as much as the creativity.  But I'm convinced that being surrounded by the vivid hues of fine art and the dynamic dialogue it sparks is a galvanizing tonic not only to the pallid outdoors but the inexorable isolation that only winter brings. 

My advice to everyone itching for some color and conversation is to find the nearest gallery walk, put on your boots and go.  And don't forget to bring a neighbor.
 
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