Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: Brian Hewitt

North Bennington artist Brian Hewitt sits under his oil and prints on canvas
on the mezzanine at Fiddlehead at Four Corners (Joey Kulkin photo)

BENNINGTON -- One of Brian Hewitt's cool new art exhibits at Fiddlehead at Four Corners is a reality-bending 3-piece series of diamond-framed prints on stretched canvas that depicts life in his hometown North Bennington circa 1923. Those who stand before his curved works notice right away how the former ink-stained wretch likes to temper his moments with bright colors and ominous clouds. His fans appreciate the arced visages.

"I use this aspect quite frequently in my artwork just to be a little bit different," Hewitt explains during a 3-minute video in which he showcases his oils and prints at Fiddlehead, the old marble bank turned art gallery in downtown Bennington, Vermont.

Aspects of his life arc since the mid-'90s could provide the canvas for a 3-piece series.

Diamond 1: It starts circa '95 as Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross -- only much nicer and cooler, and so much easier to work for. Hewitt is the epitome of chill Vermonter.

For three years he managed the Bennington Banner's ad department. That led to the same gig two states over in Bar Harbor, Maine. That led to a general managership of papers downstate in Kennebunk. He schlepped ads and closed deals, and he loved hangin' with the car dealers. Those were the days, he said, "when newspapers were awesome."

Then newspapers started to become less awesome -- more of a drain, really -- so Hewitt went into glossies and became ad manager of Down East Magazine, which is Maine's version of Vermont Life. That worked out for another 3 years till the the burnout hit ...

... and life in the second diamond took flight: Brian Hewitt morphed into Jeff Spicoli 2010 by retiring to the Dominican Republic. "I did some surfing and drank a lot of cervezas."

Hewitt loved life in the second diamond. Great diamond. And porque no?! Who wouldn't love the surf, senoritas and suds in that diamond of diamonds?

He planned to stay in the Caribbean forever.

But after 4 months the third diamond jarred him back to reality: Bud Hewitt, at 91, needed help doing the day to day things so Brian Hewitt returned to North B to be the good son. When he didn't care for dad or strike out on the job search he poured his energy into oils.

Art was not a part of Hewitt's childhood. And while some of his doodles appeared as political cartoons in newspapers -- a funny riff about David Koresh and God was his first and remains one of his favorites -- Brian Hewitt the grown man morphed into a bona fide artist.

"Magical stuff began to happen," he said during a 17-minute audio interview.

Hewitt attributes his artistry to an "alter ego" and is "amazed" when his canvases come to life after a month. "But like a lot of artists," he says, "I have to really work on it."

Ever the perfectionist, he sees problems and goes back in "all the time" -- like he'll do if no one buys "Rupert House" in the next month. Rupert House is a shadow-heavy oil on canvas based on a home in Rupert, Vermont, and depending on the light in the room it changes color. He doesn't like the clouds and wants to fix them.

Hewitt painted a large collection of works and decided to bear his soul to the world. He contacted the owners of Fiddlehead at Four Corners, Joel and Nina Lentzner, who were "cool" and "receptive", and one thing leads to another and he had a "decent opening."

An opening that inspired Hewitt to approach other galleries in New England.

"Show me a successful artist," he says, "and I'll show you somebody who's very good at marketing."

Hewitt's 3-piece North Bennington series runs for $1,797, or $599 each. His other prints run from $500, and his oils run between $600 and $4,000.

A mother and daughter admired Hewitt's North Bennington series today.

Cindy (left) and Brooke take in Hewitt's North Bennington series
at Fiddlehead at Four Corners (Joey Kulkin photo)

Brooke said that even though it's a winter scene on "Prospect Street"
the lights in the homes provide a feeling of "warmth"

Here mother and daughter talk about the third diamond called "Prospect Street":

Here are photos of Brian Hewitt with his work at Fiddlehead. Below them is the video. His work is on sale at the gallery or at Fiddlehead's website

Standing in front of "Old Chester Dance Hall" -- an oil on canvas
Standing next to "Upper Farm" -- sheet-glaze print on stretched canvas
"Outside of Joel and Nina being really cool people," Hewitt said
of Fiddlhead's owners, the building is so unique and visible
and my artwork fits in with the theme of their gallery.
Joel and Nina have a good eye for art."
Brian is a proud participant of "Movember" ...
He has sold 6 pieces in the last year
and while he hasn't had to flip burgers yet
he does admit that "I'm barely surviving"