CVMC Art Gallery: The Other Working Landscape Watercolor Prints by Tom Leytham

Release Date: 
February 11, 2016

Brick Kingdom, Barton VT Watercolor Print by Tom Leytham

Brick Kingdom, Barton VT

Now Showing, January 22 through April 8, 2016

Berlin, VT – The Gallery at CVMC is currently exhibiting the watercolor prints of Montpelier architect and artist Tom Leytham.  In 2013 Leytham was awarded a Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant allowing him to travel throughout Vermont to discover and document post industrial sites and, through painting and drawing, illuminate their meaning and importance. The Other  Working Landscape, Watercolor Prints by Tom Leytham is a presentation of 26 of the resulting watercolor drawings.

From Tom Leytham’s grant proposal:

“Monumental mills, quarries, plants, factories and railroad structures were integral to and the pride of both rural and urban locales in Vermont and the surrounding region for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, these aging and disappearing buildings and installations have come to symbolize the demise of the industrial economy, resource depletion, and environmental degradation; yet, they are also important cultural artifacts that demonstrate enterprise, bold engineering, and often, craftsmanship.”

SORO Granary, South Royalton, VT

Tom Leytham’s statement:

Describing form and light has been a life long artistic passion – in fact I became an architect because I love to draw. Drawing and designing are symbiotic activities – to draw you must take something apart  – to design you put things together. Vasari said ”Drawing is the basis for all art and architecture.” Switching my architectural work to the computer has freed me to again pursue my love of watercolors.

Since 2004, I have been exploring the remnants of the 19th and 20th century industrial landscape in Vermont and the surrounding region through a series of watercolors of working, ruined and repurposed buildings and structures. Some are monumental, some are modest; many are hiding in plain sight. One of the most original vernacular buildings in Vermont is the stepchild of a historic district – overshadowed by a covered bridge and miller’s cottage.  A piano factory is hidden in the bushes in Barton and the remnants of an asbestos mine evokes the Great Wall of China.

As an architect and artist, I am fascinated by this architecture of necessity and invention. The process of documenting components of what I call “the other working landscape” in Vermont, where farms and forest are considered the working landscape, has afforded me the opportunity to study and appreciate the resourcefulness of the design and construction.

Word of mouth (from archaeologists, preservationists, photographers, artists, writers and community members), study of Google Earth and visual exploration have led me to these sites. Driving on a dirt road in Eden you come upon a 6 story building on a mountain stripped of all vegetation. On route 12 in Bethel you are confronted by an eighty foot high grain mill surrounded by 11/2 story houses – much like a cathedral town in France.

Just as these architectural ruins in their incompleteness invite visual exploration, through the use of partial views, negative space, dramatic perspectives, and rich detail I seek to create complex, pictorial environments that will engage the viewer’s imagination. Once the pride of the community, today these aging and disappearing buildings and installations have come to symbolize the demise of the industrial economy, resource depletion and environmental degradation. Yet they are also important cultural artifacts that demonstrate enterprise, bold engineering and often, craftsmanship.

In the words of poet William Butler Yeats, “Things reveal themselves passing away.“

Tom Leytham received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. His architectural work has been featured in House Beautiful as well as in The Compact House Book, Small House Designs and The Big Book of Small House Designs. The Vermont Historical Society and the Preservation Trust of Vermont have recognized Tom’s architectural preservation work. He is the founder of the Sketching School at Norwich University and is an adjunct professor there. He has been an architect in his own firm in Montpelier since 1973.

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The University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center is part of a four-hospital system established to deliver high quality academic medicine to every community we serve. Our partners are: The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, The University of Vermont Medical Center and Elizabethtown Community Hospital.