Home News and Features Naquin’s Landscapes Displayed At Hospital Gallery

Naquin’s Landscapes Displayed At Hospital Gallery

Self portrait of Carole Naquin, orange background, figure in black shirt, dirty white apron.
This self-portrait hangs at the Central Vermont Medical Center art gallery until Friday, April 8. Art by Carole Naquin.
Carole Naquin and her husband, Steve Sease, have a little cabin a couple of hours’ drive from their home in Montpelier. In the Orleans County town of Albany, in Vermont’s storied and secluded Northeast Kingdom, it’s a modest getaway for them, just 350-square-feet, without running water or electricity. Their daughters grew up visiting the cabin and love it still. In winter, Steve loves the skiing. For Carole, everything about the place is soothing, but it’s the scenery she cherishes most. The rivers, brooks, and wetlands; the woods and hills; the sky, sometimes placid and soft, sometimes tumultuous; even the two-lane blacktops that traverse the countryside like ribbons. They inspire her to paint, which is a lifelong, diligently nurtured passion. 

Naquin’s paintings — many of them pastels, but also oils upon Masonite — are superbly true to Vermont. In fact, they seem to transcend the merely visual experience she provides (for example) of being near the marshy edge of a lake — for one can almost feel the air, see the ripples bending and flattening their intermittent portions of light, hear the insects flitting and feeding invisibly within the reeds. 

And wait! Was that a drop of rain?

For seven weeks the public has had the opportunity to engage with Carole Naquin’s artwork at perhaps the region’s most under-appreciated (and free!) gallery: the reception area at Central Vermont Medical Center. Starting in mid-February and continuing until April 8, her works have lined the walls along the indoor entranceway, then past the COVID-19 check-in point and around the corner to the hospital’s big and bright front window. She mounted 28 pictures, with titles such as “The Black Flows North,” “Clouds Off the High Road,” “Evening Star,” and “Old Tavern Farm.” At least a half-dozen of the title cards beneath the paintings are stamped with a red dot, signifying that they’ve been purchased.

“I have to have some sort of connection with what I draw or paint,” Naquin says. “I have to know it, or walk it before I paint it. Painting is more than just composing it, or figuring out the lights and shadows. You’ve got to put an emotional piece into it, too.”

A Baltimore native, Naquin (who used to diligently copy Raphael’s portraits as a child) majored in illustration at Syracuse University, then moved to Boston in the 1970s, where she worked as a graphic artist for advertising and publishing firms. She helped establish a cooperative gallery on Newbury Street and kept a studio at the Boston Center for the Arts. It was during these years that she, along with friends, began visiting Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

She moved to central Vermont around 1980 and spent a decade as the art director for National Life. She then freelanced in graphic design and worked with a behavior specialist at Union Elementary School in Montpelier. Her retirement 10 years ago provided the opportunity to fully return to the avocation she loves, and gallery attendees around the Northeast have been the beneficiaries.

Naquin was invited to display at Central Vermont Medical Center by Maureen O’Connor Burgess, who has curated the CVMC gallery since its inception 12 years ago. Burgess credits former CVMC President and CEO Judy Tarr (later Tartaglia) with the innovation. Burgess, a painter and printmaker herself, worked at CVMC at the time, in communications and graphic design.

“Judy expressed interest in using that space as a gallery [for the benefit of] hospital visitors,” says Burgess. “I jumped right on board. I had seen galleries at Dartmouth and Burlington [hospitals] and thought, ‘We are artist-rich in our community, and it’s a perfect setting.’”

They renovated the space, formed a committee to seek and select artists and photographers, and opened the gallery on April 1, 2010. The first display featured intricate drawings of odd yet intriguing mechanical objects by Mark Heitzman, who was a cardiologist at the hospital at the time but has enjoyed a successful parallel career in art. Renowned local artist Ray Brown, now deceased, served on the committee and was another early presenter at the space.

Tartaglia left in 2017, and Burgess is now retired. There is no longer a committee to assist her, but Burgess has continued serving as curator on a voluntary basis. It stems from a deep personal commitment, as she also curates the exhibit space at the Highland Center for the Arts, in Greensboro (where, on April 1, she hosted a reception for Montpelier artist Frank Woods). 

“It’s a lot of work,” Burgess says, “but I love doing it.”

The CVMC exhibit space, she feels, offers respite for workers and visitors alike. “It’s the perfect venue for Carole [Naquin] because her “en plein air” work is inevitably of a hospital visitor’s road, or view, or favorite hike. Her passion for Vermont landscape is unmistakable and contagious.”

Forthcoming displays at the CVMC Gallery include photographs by Montpelier’s Michael Jermyn (April 10 to June 3), such as his classic “End of Summer” still life, and blue-tinged cyanotype photograph by Linda Bryan of Newbury (June 6 to July 31).

Vermont is an “artist-rich community,” indeed.