Heidi Broner is a masterful painter who celebrates (in both this and other work, such as a previous series of paintings featuring a walk in the country with a dog) daily-ness and iconic human activities. Somehow she also manages to express, at the same time, a more elevated, otherworldly experience. This may be the sign of a great artist.
Janet Van Fleet
In [the Studio Place Arts exhibit] "Working it Out," Montpelier artist Heidi Broner is exhibiting several small and large-scale paintings, acrylic on canvas, that show construction workers, men putting out fires and workers spreading cement.
"Her paintings are exquisitely rendered and very respectful of the workers," [Sue Higby, Spa director] said. "I think that you can't help but look at the paintings she has created and feel a sense of awe about the labor force."
The strongly rendered figures in Heidi Broner's colorful canvases are frequently in half silhouette. They're isolated, without sharp boundaries, against an atmospheric, misty background,sometimes highly colored. In the balance, gesture and detail of each hand and body, the people are very specific. Nevertheless, the paintings somehow speak of everyman (Spreading Cement, 2006).
You don’t have to check in to check out Heidi Broner’s appealing show of paintings at the Central Vermont Medical Center... A hospital is actually an apt venue for Broner’s art, though, for a couple of reasons. It exposes her talents to many Vermonters who otherwise might not encounter the work of this versatile artist, who lives just a few miles away. And five of the 17 pieces depict scenes inside the medical center, whose officials invited Broner to paint personnel as they performed their jobs.“Surgical Team” stands out among these works... In Broner’s hands, the square creases of the blue gowns and fabrics make a stronger visual impression than does the narrative, which could involve a matter of life or death....
The show concludes with a wonderfully subtle piece that serves as a clever commentary on all the works that have come before it. Entitled “Water Color,” this 3-by-2-foot canvas shows a man...seated on a pile of stones and engaged in some task that causes him to list to the left. A longer look reveals a paint box balanced on a stone and a small bowl resting in the man’s shadow. Aha — he’s a watercolorist sketching a scene. And he’s a worker like all the others Broner memorably depicts....
Broner’s arresting compositions portray the gritty reality of the workaday world with a grace that is a tribute to the skill and strength of her subjects. Without romanticizing the labor depicted in her paintings, Broner nonetheless succeeds in reminding the viewer of the many people whose hard work, though vital to the health of our communities, often goes unrecognized.
Heidi Broner, who had a fine show of paintings depicting people at work last year at the Central Vermont Medical Center, returns to that theme for this exhibit, with a similarly resonant result.