Joseph Salerno

Current Exhibition:

“Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi tirovati per una selva oscura . . .”
(“Midway through life’s journey, I found myself in a dark woods . . .”)
-Dante Alighieri, Divina Commedia (Inferno I, 1-2)

Julian Scott Memorial Gallery
Dibden Center for the Arts
Northern Vermont University-Johnson

February 2 - 26, 2021

Recent Exhibitions:

The Daily
Curated by Sharon Butler

Ely Center of Contemporary Art
New Haven, CT

Exhibition Images and Curator's Statement at Two Coats of Paint

Brian Slattery for the New Haven Independent

Anne Russinof on Gallery Travels

Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery
Shelburne, VT

Come Together
Northern Vermont University
Lyndonville, VT

Mountain Air
Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center
Stowe, VT

Moving Up
Mitchell Giddings Fine Art
Brattleboro, VT

Meriden, NH

New England Collective X
Katherine French, juror
Galatea Fine Art
460 B Harrison Ave.
Boston, MA

Suspended in Focus: 18 Artists
Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery
Shelburne, VT

Annelein Beukenkamp | Diane Fitch | Leslie Fry | Betsey Garand | Brenda Garand | Philip Hagopian | Valerie Hird | Jane Ann Kantor | Kathleen Kolb | Janet McKenzie | Joseph Salerno | Cristina Salusti | Jessica Scriver | David Smith | Barbara Wagner | Shiao-Ping Wang | Frank Woods | Julia Zanes

The artists have widely diverse stylistic approaches to their individual work, but are united in their intense focus on their subject matter. From careful rendering of sunlight on the landscape in front of us to interpretations of the fantasy world within: even the most abstract work derives from passionate observation of the world around us. Focus in art-making is usually a meditative experience of total immersion. Thus “Suspended in Focus” is universal among artists no matter their medium, no matter their subject

1959: Spirit of the Void
curated by
Sharon Butler and Stephanie Theodore

Work by artists born in 1959, including Markus Baenziger, Sharon Butler, Elisabeth Condon, Dionisio Cortes, Catherine Howe, Dion Kliner, Robert Lansden, Xanda McCagg, Joseph Salerno, Mary Schiliro, Jane Swavely and Amy Yoes.

DUMBO Open Studios
Two Coats of Paint
55 Washington Street, Suite 454
Brooklyn, NY

Axel's Gallery
5 Stowe Street
Waterbury, VT

ArtsConnect at Catamount Arts
Nick Capasso, Director, Fitchburg Art Museum, juror
Catamount Arts Center
St Johnsbury, VT

Marist College Art Gallery
Poughkeepsie, NY
view installation

Aidron Duckworth Art Museum
Guest Artist Exhibition: ‘Forest Recollection’

Blue Mountain Gallery
Summer Juried Exhibition, John Yau, Juror
530 West 25th Street, New York, NY

Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery
86 Falls Road, Shelburne, VT
Into the Light, A Group Show

Blue Mountain Gallery
2018 Juried Exhibition, Betty Cunningham, juror
530 West 25th St
New York, NY

ArtsConnect at Catamount Arts
John Stromberg, Hood Museum of Art, juror
Catamount Arts Center
St Johnsbury, VT

Joseph Salerno is the 2017 Avigdor Arikha Memorial International Residency Scholarship recipient at JSS in Civita Castellana, Italy

2017 Bowery Gallery National Competition.
Bowery Gallery
Kyle Staver, juror
530 West 25th St, 4th Floor,
New York, NY 10001

Ninth National Juried Exhibition
Prince Street Gallery
Stuart Shils, juror
530 West 25th Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10001

Connection: The Art of Coming Together
Vermont Arts Council Spotlight Gallery, Montpelier, VT

Woods Edge
Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery
86 Falls Road, Shelburne, Vermont

Woods Edge
Vermont Studio Center Red Mill Gallery
Johnson, Vermont

Being Present
Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery
Shelburne, VT

Dark Woods
Vermont Studio Center Gallery II
80 Pearl Street
Johnson, VT
view exhibition installation
Review: SevenDays

Strange Paradise
2015 National Juried Exhibition juried and curated by Steven Harvey
First Street Gallery
New York, NY

Back to Nature
Vermont Metro Gallery at the BCA Center
Burlington, VT
Review: SevenDays

Julie Heller East
Provincetown, MA

2014 National Juried Exhibition
Jed Perl, juror
First Street Gallery
New York, NY

The Daily Curated by Sharon Butler

Curator’s Statement

The work selected for this exhibition is rooted in materiality, ritual, and the structure of daily life.

Some artists have built enduring practices one day at a time (as Bill W. would say). One is Joseph Salerno, who makes a small plein air landscape painting each day in the Vermont woods. Other artists represented here, such as Jean Scott and EK Lee, have suggested that maintaining the daily ritual of making art has a healing effect in the face of loss and tragedy. In Salerno’s artist’s statement, hequotes Dante from The Divine Comedy: “In the middle years of our life I found myself in a dark wood.”

Incremental approaches, of course, need not suppress humanity. Claire Watson collects leather clothes at thriftshops, takes them apart at the seams, and sews the pieces together to create abstract canvases. Although they have a Modernist sensibility, Watson says it’s impossible to disassociate the fragments from the living, breathing animals from whence the skins originated.

Matthew Best uses the painting process as a way to cope with the sheer uncertainty of life, his improvisational abstract works recording mental shifts and personal growth, move by move. Anne Russinof’s paintings are themselves single acts: she makes them in one go, wet on wet, like the ancient Chinese landscape painters. Her floating calligraphic gestures seem as if they could fly off the canvas and enter the space around us.

Daniel Bohman, Shelby Charlesworth, and Amy Faris are keen observers of the domestic world. Charlesworth’s installations incorporate what she calls the repulsive traces of existence – hair intertwined in the teeth of a brush, a toothbrush long overused, a toenail stuck in a set of clippers. Faris’s drawings and installations examine monotony, utilizing the same repetitive processes she associates with tedious household tasks. Daniel Bohman paints images of interior domestic spaces which convey meaning about those who inhabit them.

Three artists in the exhibition use materials in especially surprising ways. Cynthia Mason’s soft sculptures, based on household objects like shelves and ladders, droop and bend over time. Her interest lies in powerlessness and everyday failure. Rick Albee’s humble goal for his small-scale ceramic objects is simply to make something unexpected, and, by combining familiar forms in unforeseen ways, he succeeds. Elizabeth Mead makes delicate tabletop objects out of white paper and string, then photographs them in natural light, rendering them illusions of shadow and light in a post-literal space.

Douglas Degges and Robert Oehl, both overwhelmed by the speed of digital technology in our lives, are intent on slowing down the existential procession. Oehl uses pinhole cameras and traditional darkroom processes to fashion grainy, nude self-portraits that seem elegiac,suggestions that an era may be ending. Degges craftslumpy plaster slabs on which he makes abstract paintings, like personal frescos for itinerant times.

Rita Valley and Eric Anthony Berdis have proudly political missions. Using absurd pageantry and purposeful repetition, Berdis explores the challenge and romance ofbeing gay in a hetero-normative society. Valley, in despair over our ongoing political strife, hand-sews text-based fabric pieces with buzz phrases and hate words like “libtard” and “complicit.”

“The Daily” is broadly about paying attention, living in the present, and counting time – which of course marches on. Sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour, twenty-four hours in a day. Before you know it, a brave new decade unfolds.

---Sharon Butler

Recent feature from Northern Woodlands Magazine:

“….art is born out of life and life is a mystery, an ongoing transformation.“
-Antonio Lopez Garcia
Spanish painter 1936-

Joseph Salerno records the passage of time with a palpable devotion. His multiple series of paintings are entitled “Woods Edge”; they depict seasonal and diurnal changes at the margin of the woods in an often haunting manner. The four pieces shown here are a tiny selection from hundreds that Salerno has painted over the years of the woods near his Johnson, VT home. The oil studies are most powerful when seen together as they form an ongoing meditation on the shifting character of familiar woodlands.

Salerno’s work is a record of his experience outdoors and his commitment to direct observation. But his work is the antithesis of illustration. It is not showing us what the woods look like- but rather what the woods feel like in the time space continuum. How do these small paintings transmit the silence and gravity of the forest so well? One gets the feeling from each piece that the day is in the process of getting darker or lighter, and that every moment is dramatically different than the next.

Compositionally, the majority of paintings in the “Woods Edge” series have two foreground tree trunks. These strong vertical elements form a doorway- a liminal passage- to the dark forest beyond. At times the invitation to pass through the portal is inviting, and at other times- a dare. The opposites of light and dark, abstraction and realism, foreground and background are provocative.
What lies beyond?

Adelaide Tyrol

Outdoor Palette
Spring 2019