Family Traits: Art, Humor, and Everyday Life

FAMILY TRAITS: Art Humor, and Everyday Life

January 27, 2017 - May 15, 2017

The Vermont Folklife Center is pleased to announce the opening of FAMILY TRAITS: Art Humor, and Everyday Life – an exhibit celebrating familial culture through the artworks of Stanley Lyndes – open through May 15th at the Vermont Folklife Center’s Vision & Voice Gallery in Middlebury.

As a child growing up in a multigenerational farm family, Stanley observed the quirks and foibles of the people with whom he interacted every day. He remembered each peculiar turn of phrase and was struck by the absurd qualities of everyday life that usually go unnoticed as “normal.” Like an anthropologist or a folklorist, he was able to reflect on his life at a distance, and he saw terrific humor everywhere.

All of this became source material for Stanley’s creative energy, such as the “Family Traits” book, which he illustrated as an exercise while a student at the Pratt Institute. Presumably this project was for his own delight, but it has also become a touchstone for the generations of his family that have followed him, revered as both a treasured artifact and the creative humorous expression of a common past.

 But Stanley also made things for making’s sake. His grandchildren reference bows and arrows, finely-crafted boxes, miniature furniture, beautifully illustrated cards, and much, much more. At the root of all of this was “Gramp Honeycake,” loving, fun, and full of surprises, who bound his family together by creating a cast of characters that were their common property. Forty-two years after his death the things he made still resonate for his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

 We all celebrate these kinds of family connections when we bake that special birthday cake that our mothers made for us as children or tell stories about those special ornaments on the holiday tree. This is how family folklore works. The only difference is that Stanley Lyndes did this in spades!

 The Vision & Voice Gallery is free and open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

The program is generously underwritten by the Rotary Club of Middlebury, VT, Cabot Creamery, the Vermont Community Foundation, the Vermont Arts Council, and our membership at large. The Gallery is ADA accessible on the first floor of the Vermont Folklife Center headquarters building at 88 Main Street in Middlebury.