Ever since leaving the city life, we must admit that we often miss our lazy Sunday afternoons spent meandering the halls of art museums, such as the Barnes, Clark, and MoMA. Now in Vermont, we welcome a new kid on the block: the Hall Art Foundation. Reading VT appears to be the perfect location for such an experience. Imagine: sprawling fields alive in the wind, apple trees scattering the lawn, a tall silo, and high-ceiling barns. Upon making an appointment to visit the Foundation, we hoped to find just what we had been craving – a space in which to revel in inspiration. Take a deep breath and step into a world of visual innovation.
The Hall Art Foundation made use of some beautiful farm bones. The grounds were once home to Lexington Farm, built in the 1800s as a working dairy farm. A stone barn, cow barn, horse barn, and tractor barn stand alongside a Black River waterfall on the property. After three years of restoration and reformation for gallery purposes, the Foundation opened its doors in the fall of 2012. The museum now holds about 6,000 square feet of intimate exhibit space – a number that we view as incredibly favorable. Not only are there over 60 quality pieces to admire throughout the property, but the museum is also manageable enough to occupy a portion of the day. The number of displayed works allow us to remember our takeaway from each and every piece we see.
Founded in 2007, the Hall Art Foundation shows rotating, temporary exhibitions of postwar and contemporary artwork. These pieces all derive from Andrew and Christine Hall’s own collection, displayed for the public’s enjoyment and education. Walking around the grounds and throughout the buildings, the property embodies a space of enchantment. A light breeze blowing through the back fields makes the space that much more tranquil. The juxtaposition of old world barns and landscapes alongside the outdoor pieces, such as Richard Deacon’s welded steel structures and Olafur Eliasson’s industrial waterfall, works together to create a sense of beauty in the unexpected. Each turn involves the comfort of an old farmhouse, as well as intrigue with the sprinkling of contemporary artwork. The preservation of Lexington Farm’s original charm compliments the Foundation’s impactful exhibitions in a new and interesting way.
The Hall Art Foundation is currently exhibiting Landscapes after Ruskin: Redefining the Sublime, curated by Joel Sternfeld. Through November 27th of this year, you can visit this collection depicting Ruskin’s “truth in nature” philosophy. This exhibition reflects the truth in the natural world – the world as mankind experiences it. The beautiful and majestic are balanced by the threat and terror of nature, making this curated collection an authentic depiction of the sublime.
Even as a non-art major or enthusiast, the stories behind the artists’ thought process and intention make this gallery a must-see. A few of our favorite installations include Tony Matelli’s Weed, portraying weeds growing from the corners of the farmhouse. Bringing the inside into a manmade space coincides with the notion of finding beauty in the world disrupted by human industry and development. Same goes for Eliasson’s waterfall, which stands a short walking distance from the natural waterfall on the property. Anselm Reyle’s Steohballen, a straw bail with chrome varnish, further emphasizes the transformation of natural material and the beauty in its alteration. Guided tours are helpful in that the docents are incredibly knowledgable about each piece and the story behind it. Still, the Hall Art Foundation encourages you to assess the artwork through your own perception as well. A picture can be worth a thousand words, after all. Regardless, we find this collection genuinely thought-provoking and a pleasant way to spend a couple hours of your day.
You can visit the Hall Art Foundation every Wednesday and weekend by appointment. Tours are available at 11 AM, 1 PM, and 3 PM. The Hall Art Foundation is now also opening its doors on the last Friday of every month for self-guided tours to explore the exhibition at your own pace! Come and check out why we felt so inspired after leaving the Hall Art Foundation in pleasant Reading!