Art Notes: Collage artist brings fresh energy to Bridgewater mill

Artist Pete Landis, photographed outside his Bridgewater Mill studio and gallery in Bridgewater, Vt., on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, is opening a show of his Cyborg Series of photographed collages on Saturday. Landis, who grew up in Hartland, returned to the Upper Valley from Rhode Island in 2022 and works remotely for Gale Goff Architect. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Artist Pete Landis, photographed outside his Bridgewater Mill studio and gallery in Bridgewater, Vt., on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, is opening a show of his Cyborg Series of photographed collages on Saturday. Landis, who grew up in Hartland, returned to the Upper Valley from Rhode Island in 2022 and works remotely for Gale Goff Architect. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

Pete Landis works on a piece in his Cyborg Series of photographed collages in his space at the Bridgewater Mill in Bridgewater, Vt., on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. During the pandemic, he began the series taking inspiration from the artifice of social media photo filters and retouched fashion photographs, and incorporating small found objects. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Pete Landis works on a piece in his Cyborg Series of photographed collages in his space at the Bridgewater Mill in Bridgewater, Vt., on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. During the pandemic, he began the series taking inspiration from the artifice of social media photo filters and retouched fashion photographs, and incorporating small found objects. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley new photographs — James M. Patterson

Pete Landis, photographed on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, opened Pietro Landi Gallery to bring contemporary art into the Bridgewater Mill in Bridgewater, Vt., and also to showcase his own work. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Pete Landis, photographed on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, opened Pietro Landi Gallery to bring contemporary art into the Bridgewater Mill in Bridgewater, Vt., and also to showcase his own work. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

By ALEX HANSON

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-14-2023 4:57 PM

At the small art gallery he’s opening in the Bridgewater Mill, Pete Landis wore a T-shirt bearing a stylized bird logo. It’s become kind of a personal brand.

“I actually tagged that around New York for a while, until I got arrested,” Landis said. Then he switched to T-shirts.

With his gallery, Landis hopes to infuse some of that graffiti-writing energy into both the mill and the local arts landscape.

Landis grew up in Hartland, where his parents, Marv and Bess Klassen-Landis, settled when he was 5. Now 41, Landis moved to Woodstock last year with his wife, Megan, a Woodstock native, and their two children, Lucas, 5, and Caleb, almost 2.

On Saturday, he opens Pietro Landi Gallery, a pocket-sized space in the cavernous 19th-century mill building with a reception from 5 to 10 p.m., the last two hours of which will include a DJ set.

Trained at Cornell as an architect, and at the Pratt Institute in industrial design, Landis has maintained an art practice that takes inspiration from the messy, built-up world. Leaning against the wall of the gallery was a skateboard fashioned from a New York University fraternity paddle.

But the bulk of his work on display is his Cyborg Series of collages, an extended commentary on the plasticky look of fashion magazines and Instagram face filters. The collages feature images of models cut to look like robots.

“They’re portraying something that’s not fully human,” he said of the original images. “It’s been manipulated.”

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The collages call to mind the tart satire of AdBusters, the post-Reagan culture-jamming magazine.

Although he painstakingly hand cuts the collages, he then digitizes them and sells them as dye transfer prints on aluminum.

Making the collages was part of what got Landis through the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is really kind of a meditative process,” he said. He follows a few compositional principles and doesn’t worry too much about what it might mean.

The post-modernity of Landis’ work makes his gallery a bit of an outlier in the Bridgewater Mill. Next door is the studio and gallery of Fiona Blunden, who works as a gilder and decorative arts conservator. Down the hall is the art studio of Katie Roberts, who makes oil paintings that heighten details found in nature. And on the ground floor is the jewelry design studio of David Crandall. There are multiple other creative studios in the mill, which is anchored by the ShackletonThomas fine furniture and pottery workshop and store.

“It’s a great addition, I tell you,” Blunden said. “I was here alone for years.”

Whether there’s a craving in the Upper Valley for some of the Brooklyn-esque energy Landis is offering, it seems like a great fit for the mill. It’s one of the area’s great structures and it deserves to be used to the fullest extent possible. If the influx of young people attributable to the pandemic enlivens places like the mill, that’s all to the good.

Other studios will be open for at least part of the time Landis’ reception is happening, and the owners of Plymouth Cheese Co., who own most of the mill, plan to hold a pop-up cheese shop.

If you go, take a look at Landis’ studio, across from his gallery on the second floor. It offers a window into the collagists magpie-like process of merging found elements into finished images. He also has some works on display in the gallery by well-known street artists, most notably Shepard Fairey.

Pietro Landi Gallery is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact Landis at petekldesign@gmail.com.

20 years and counting

When brothers Joe and Josh Tuohy were starting in 2003 to clean up the space in downtown Lebanon that would become Salt hill Pub, people kept poking their heads in to warn them that the corner location was cursed. A series of places had come and gone in previous years.

Twenty years later, if there’s a curse, the Tuohys must have some luck on their side. Salt hill turns 20 with a celebration Saturday night with The Conniption Fits in the house. The pub also features a new beer, Salt hill Pale Ale, brewed for their anniversary by Maine’s Sebago Brewing Co.

Making music in Randolph

Among the performers at the third annual Make Music Day, June 21, in Randolph, will be the local groove rock ensemble Of Conscious Mind, who will play a set in The Underground, a listening room in Randolph, along with NRVS and the Dizzy Bats starting at 7:30. The show is part of 12 hours of music programming in Randolph. For the full schedule, go to chandler-arts.org.

Of Conscious Mind is celebrating the release of a single, and are working on putting out an EP, something to look for later this summer.

Theater everywhere

Well, maybe not everywhere, but in all the usual places. Northern Stage opens a production of a new stage adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility,” the Jane Austen classic, this week. The Thursday and Friday night shows are previews and the production opens Saturday night. Thursday’s show is a “pay what you can” preview.

The production is slated to be held in the company’s outdoor Courtyard Theater. Wednesday night’s show was moved indoors, and the forecast doesn’t look ideal. Go to northernstage.org.

New London Barn Playhouse is producing “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” the first show in its season, through June 25. Go to nlbarn.org.

ArtisTree Community Arts Center opens a prodution of “God of Carnage” next week, but on Friday night, it’s holding a summer kickoff concert with the Boston-based salsa band Juan Nieves & Legado’s Orquestra. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Go to artistreevt.org.

Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com or 603-727-3207.