Vermont Landscape Through Time

Confluence, Sidetrack, Interchange - White River Junction, Vermont Carolyn Enz Hack acrylic on linen 30x40” 2016
Confluence, Sidetrack, Interchange – White River Junction, Vermont acrylic on linen 30×40” 2016

“Carolyn Enz Hack’s powerful mixed media paintings also document a Vermont whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed through time.” Sheryl Trainor, “East Meets West”, Art New England,  Sept/Oct 2016

My first studio was in the TipTop building in White River Junction, Vermont.

When the English settlers first arrived in this part of North American they used the frozen Connecticut River as a highway to reach further into what was then “Kings Land”. This was land that was reserved for the English Crown as a place to harvest the giant White Pine trees for masts for the enormous warships of the English navy. The dense forests and impassable beaver meadows made overland travel impossible for anything other than foot travel.

Once the Upper Valley was opened to “legal” settlement, the confluence of the White and the Connecticut Rivers became a major staging area for log drives. Five different railroads ran through White river Junction, Vermont beginning in the 1840s with as many as 50 passenger trains a day at the height of rail travel. In the 1960s passenger rail travel was nearly wiped out by the use of cars on the new Interstate Highway System.

White River Junction lost it’s purpose and declined until the mid 1990s when an artistic revival was spurred by renovation of the TipTop Bakery building into artist’s studios and the Main Street Museum was opened to the public.

Five Bridges, Six Dams - Springfield, Vermont Carolyn Enz Hack acrylic on linen 36x28” 2016
Five Bridges, Six Dams – Springfield, Vermont acrylic on linen 36×28” 2016

Springfield, Vermont is presently tipping toward a revival and is a place where I have shown at the Great Hall in the historic Fellows Gear Shaper manufacturing facility. I’ve visited Springfield many times but trusting my memory about the order of buildings or view of a building isn’t photographic. That’s how memory works, it only gives us a sense of what’s there.

The topography around the Black River made it ideal for generating hydro power and this area became one of the most important machining centers in the US. At one time the town was near the top of the Nazi’s list for destruction because of the machining that was done there. The town was a center for innovation and an incredible number patents have been awarded to it’s resident inventors over the centuries. It’s also home to Vermont’s oldest schoolhouse, the Eureka schoolhouse, which gave us, you guessed it, the expression.

Abundance Farm - Thetford Center, Vermont Carolyn Enz Hack acrylic on linen 20x28” 2016
Abundance Farm Thetford Center, Vermont acrylic on linen, 20×28” 2016

Where my home and studio has been since 2001. The oldest building on our property is only 35 years old but there are many cellar holes in the nearby woods.

The sky is a constant in almost any landscape view. It will always be in sight some way.

The point of these paintings was to try to bring together ideas that I was expressing in my 3D work and my 2D paintings. You can see examples of both in this display.  Most of my previous landscapes were based on close-ups of a view. This project gave me an opportunity to look at the landscape from many perspectives at once.

Shadow of the Winooski - Waterbury, Vermont Carolyn Enz Hack acrylic on linen 28 x 30” 2017
Shadow of the Winooski – Waterbury, Vermont acrylic on linen 28 x 30” 2017

The irony of Waterbury is the number of times that the Winooski River actually buried the town.

Quarry - Wildersburgh – Wildersboro - Barre, Vermont Carolyn Enz Hack acrylic on linen 40x40” 2016
Quarry – Wildersburgh – Wildersboro – Barre, Vermont acrylic on linen 40×40” 2016

Studio Place Arts has been an important place for me and others to show our experiments in artistic practice. This gallery showcases the many voices of artistic expression from representational to experimental art.
The first maps of the area that is now Vermont showed a wilderness in the center of the state. Mountains and beaver meadows made crossing the state extremely difficult. These maps show no towns but clearly mark the place that is now Barre simply with the word “Quarry”.

Barre granite brought highly skilled craftsmen from Europe to work as sculptors. Barre granite is a building material for some of our nation’s most important buildings.

Often artists want to express the things that aren’t visual. The concentric circles in some of the paintings, lines, and triangles are a way to visualize the energy of change throughout the history of each place.

A Fair to Remember - Tunbridge, Vermont Carolyn enz Hack acrylic on linen 30x36" 2016
A Fair to Remember – Tunbridge, Vermont acrylic on linen 30×36″ 2016

I grew up with the Warren County Farmers’ Fair in New Jersey. When I moved to Vermont, I and my children contributed entries to the Tunbridge World’s Fair. The movement and color of the rural landscape gives me endless inspiration and a phenomenon like the Tunbridge Fair is a flash on the landscape each year.

Every piece of art is an experiment. Every place that we know was something else many times, before we knew it.

I understand why artists revisit the same themes again and again. When I create a piece there is no limit to the possible outcomes that could materialize. Each decision that I make changes the formula for success. Declaring a piece complete takes a certain amount of restraint.

The Tunbridge World’s Fair has a history stemming from it’s town charter. The Tunbridge Agricultural Society formalized the tradition by staging a fair in 1847.

Cellar Holes and High Speed Lines - Vershire, Vermont Carolyn Enz Hack 28x40” 2016
Cellar Holes and High Speed Lines – Vershire, Vermont 28×40” 2016

I lived in Vershire, Vermont for five years in a cabin with no running water.
Vershire was once known as Copperfield because the valuable Ely Copper Mine located just west of present day West Fairlee. The mine village included about 100 buildings and, at the height of operations, employed over 850 men. It is now an environmental SuperFund site.
The most successful industries in Vershire today are education, in the form of the Mountain School, agriculture, including sugaring and hard cyder, and timber framing. Ward’s Garage is the most prominent family-owned concern operating there for over forty years. Steve Ward’s rig is a fixture on Route 113.
The blue lines and triangles are energy flowing through the area representing the latest innovation in a place where you might not see much change at all visually.

Caspian Lake - Greensboro, Vermont Carolyn Enz Hack acrylic on linen 20x30” 2016
Caspian Lake – Greensboro, Vermont acrylic on linen 20×30” 2016

I have friends who’s family history in Barre, Vermont lead them to have a cabin on Caspian Lake. I have visited there many times, appreciating the summer community and the resurgence of the area as an arts hub in the Northeast Kingdom. my work has been shown at a gallery there for several years as well.
These paintings are the beginning of developing a new Vermont vernacular. The goal is to not represent the landscape as it is, but to bring a sense of the now and the back story together. They are an attempt at representing what is emblematic of a place.

Thousands of Cords, Thousands of Bales - W Walden, Vermont Carolyn Enz Hack paper,acrylic on linen 24x40” 2017
Thousands of Cords, Thousands of Bales – W Walden, Vermont paper,acrylic on linen 24×40” 2017