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Kate Gridley's PASSING THROUGH Opens 8/18 at Town Hall Theater

Imagine a room full of seventeen young adults from different religious and cultural backgrounds, varying sexual identities and orientations, a range of family structures, work and travel experiences, failures, successes, who all, in some way, think of Vermont as home. Kate Gridley did just that, and then decided to paint a larger than life size portrait of each one.

A portion of Kate Gridley's exhibit, "Passing Through," will be shown at the Jackson Gallery at Town Hall Theater from Monday, August 18 to Sunday, October 26. The remaining pieces will be hung at The Lobby--a restaurant in Middlebury--and the Mahaney Center for the Arts at Middlebury College during this same period.

Portraiture is an art historically reserved for affluent and influential adults and their children. Kate Gridley's "Passing Through" goes against this tradition as the artist created 17 physical and audio profiles of emerging adults (the phase of life between adolescence and full-fledged adulthood) from varying backgrounds. Though their stories are vastly different, each subject has come to think of Vermont as home, whether they were born here, went to school here, or are visitors who continue to return to their home away from home. The cast of characters includes students and graduates of both Middlebury Union High School and Middlebury College.

Gridley's portraiture reaches deeply into the human character of her subjects, doing more than capturing moments of individual lives, but also exploring ideas of self, culture, place, and time. Her exhibit also uses audio, where tapes of interviews with her subjects can be heard through viewer's cell phones. "I felt like I made 17 new friends when I saw the exhibit," says executive director of Town Hall Theater Doug Anderson, "I felt that I got to know who these 17 amazing young adults are, not just what they look like." The artist was inspired to pursue this project after an experience on a political campaign in Ohio where she was surrounded by energetic, passionate, and motivated young adults. This exhibit is also inspired by a shift in the artist's philosophy, more interested now in painting portraits for her own creative exploration than for commission.

"Passing Through" premiered at the Wilson Museum of Art at the Southern Vermont Art Center in August, 2013, and has since made a New England tour where the work has been extremely well received. This is not Gridley's first big success. In addition to maintaining a studio in Middlebury, Vermont, where she has lived and painted full time since 1991, she was commissioned to paint the official state portrait of Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont, which hangs in the Vermont Statehouse, and the official portrait of the Honorable William K. Sessions III, which hangs in the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington D.C. She first pursued her artistic studies in New York City, followed by a year and a half of study of renaissance painting techniques in the Atelier of Ben Long in Florence, Italy. After a short stint in Boston, she began exhibiting regularly in New York City and throughout New England. Her works hang in public and private collections here and abroad.

"Passing Through," will be on display at the Jackson Gallery at Town Hall Theater from Monday, August 18 to Sunday, October 26. The gallery is open 12-5pm, Monday through Saturday, and is also open 30 minute prior to each show at THT. Entry is free of charge. A gallery talk is scheduled from 4-5pm on October 24th at the Town Hall Theater.

Photo Caption: Kate Gridley stands among a few of her larger-than-life portraits from her collection "Passing Through." On exhibit at Town Hall Theater Monday, August 18 through Sunday, October 26.

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