Saturday, August 30, 2008

My turn

After a summer's worth of changing shows at the Gem Gallery, now it's my turn. And I'm worn out!.... as are many of the loyal gallery supporters, not to mention the artists. During the most gorgeous part of August, I was inside breathing pastel dust. And loving it, in fact. Here is one piece I titled Chon Ye's Garden.

It's a view from the kitchen side of the Cockeyed Gull, owned by Chon Ye. It struck me on my way downfront one day that I've always loved that building, an old creaky thing used by Maine Island Kayak, and the sunflowers were so proud, too. Had to draw them. That's what I put in the show, documented moments and places I inhabit.

I'm in the gallery this week at the invitation of good friend, Peg Astarita, who has invited her crowd from Portland Pottery as well.  John Morrill Read took this photo of Peg, Jessica, and Carlo during the set up.

John does these amazing turtles that simply fly off the walls.

The opening proved to be quite fun. All my favorite people came, and more.

John caught the crowd and steamy air in these photos.

This wall of my pastels could use some better lighting, yes?

This piece, Evergreen Evening, was Kirsten Cappy's favorite.

The Gem is essentially two small rooms, partitioned from a house. The back gallery is reserved for the weekly shows of members of the island collective, while the front gallery is a display for all members, all summer. So things change all the time, like the tides, of course. 

Here's a lovely corner that spotlights a yellow painting by Diane Wiencke, complete with a little found vertebrae, and glassware by Connor Flynn, high schooler, and ceramics by Pam and Rick Boyd (vase on pedestal) and Peg Astarita (little black urn with lid.)

Yesterday I gallery sat with Wild Thing pal, Kathie Schneider. My pastel, Great Diamond Dusk, hangs over her photo in the front gallery.

While we gabbed, folks came and went, admiring and sometimes, buying. These tiles by Liz Sherman are my favorites, raku with delicate crackles and spare silhouettes, so quiet yet so bold in their simplicity.

Now that the show is up and my gallery duties are met, I can turn to fall and starting the semester at Maine College of Art.
Summer is swell, but autumn is my season. This piece, Bittersweet Season, shows those warm colors and tangled vines of the backshore, when all the visitors have gone, along with the leaves. Divine.

Come visit the Gem while it's hot: from 2 - 7 PM through September 2. Any questions? Call 207-766-5600.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gem sparkles

So much going on; so little time to blog. Good news: weather improved stupendously this past week. The air literally changed on Tuesday and I could tell September was near. I gallery sat at the Gem that afternoon, and was simply glowing in the collective sunshine of the work on display. Diane Wiencke and Carol Cartier are two consummate makers and shakers. They collaborated to hang a seamless show that radiated good energy and uncanny talents.

On their price list, they didn't even indicate who did what. Those of us that know them can tell their work apart and the rest, well, get with it. Here is one of my favorites of Carol's. She has a knack for finding curiosities on the beach and elsewhere. Here a collection of soles becomes a pod of whales.

I do marvel at the range of work that has paraded through this wee gallery. Earlier this summer, Mary Lavendier Myers posed for me, and we had a good yak about how to make a collective less fractious, more effective, etc. Truly, getting a consensus of artists is like herding cats. But islanders have nothing if not patience and persistence. We've all missed our share of boats. We can figure this gallery thing out, right?

Somewhere in July, Jeanne O'Toole Hayman showed some staggeringly beautiful oils that paired so perfectly with the pottery of Rick Boyd and Pamela Williamson.

During that same show, Jane Banquer showed these block prints, some inspired by a stint at Haystack. I know Jane from the life drawing group here, and these block prints have a bold line and energy that are a contrast to her delicate nudes. She does it all!

Currently at the Gem, Jane's husband, Norm Proulx, is showing his paintings. He shares the gallery with Claudia Whitman, another long-time islander, in a show called Sense of Peace, Sense of Place. Claudia is an activist against the death penalty and her passion shows in her multilayered paper collages of doves, doves of all colors, shapes, silhouettes, patterns. Exquisite.
Norm is primarily self-taught. In a sense, all artists learn by doing, but Norm continually challenges himself. His paintings conjure up imaginary places, villages of invention. Norm and Claudia's work together is another serendipitous pairing of shared color surprises.

All of these artists mentor me, by their example, by their hard work, their unique approaches to making art in a challenging environment. These shows are up and down in the blink of an eye, or about 6 days. Right now I am scrambling to finish pieces for my turn, which happens this week. I am piggybacking my pastels with a posse of potters, thanks to Peg Astarita.

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Island Inside Out/ Outside In

Summer marches on. Sigh. I sit inside on a cloudy day, overlooking a soggy flowerbox by the open window and listening to the shouts of tourists who are enjoying the lark of riding a bike for the first time in how long. I'm enjoying a moment of reflection on the idea of inside and outside, a theme explored at the Gem Gallery's current exhibit: Island Inside Out/Outside In.
Lane Williamson and Tim Nihoff have paired together to fill the back gallery with surprisingly complementary imagery.

Lane's paintings glimmer with reflections in ponds and marshes. She eschews the well-documented seashore in favor of island interiors, exposing knarly tree roots and mossy stumps. You feel moist looking at these oils, ripe with earthy color. Her focus on the inside of island nature reveals Lane's private side. Her own studio sits beside a luscious lily pond with a field rimmed by deer fencing, right off a road yet unseen by passersby; it is a world apart.

Tim Nihoff's
assemblages and paintings are a whimsical contrast to Lane's realism.
His work reconfigures elements found in either nature, or a dump pile, or a yard sale...then brought inside for a new purpose, such as an amusing mobile, lamp, or coat hook. This gallery wall buzzes with animated personality.

A lithe spirit keeps this piece in motion, conjuring magical powers.

This exhibit plays with natural observations and inventive imaginings in a most delightful manner. Check it out.

Every islander is something of a scavenger. We can't always get what we need, so we make good use of what we have. I not only beachcomb for sea shards, but folks have started to bring me their broken plates and cups. I recently paired with Peg Astarita for an evening of mosaics.

My fish, done as a rehearsal/prep for the class, became a wedding gift:

Leslie worked on this heart, the tiny pieces creating a patterned whole.

Here is Maeve, working on a bird mosaic.

Joy brought in a favorite plate, chipped. I accidentally broke it further, but she pieced it into her fish perfectly.

It's just plain satisfying to salvage a pile of fragments into new form.

In other news, the annual Fifth Maine's Art on the Porch survived threat of thunderstorms for another well-attended event.
The Fifth Maine is a historic gem,
a Civil War memorial building that is both museum and home to countless community events from May to October.

Marty designed this poster:

As Board member and Co-Chair with the unsinkable Suellen, I endured some stress involving table capacity, but all turned out fine: the fog burned off, the food ran out, and the artists did business, including a certain little entrepreneur and her mom.

These were Daisy's best-selling prints:

Acorn House

Panda Kiting

And here are a couple of mine:

This one was done after a hike up to Morse Mountain, past a wide marsh with undulating rivulets heading to the ocean.
I call it Sanctuary.

This pastel was done after a backshore potluck at Table Rock, a favorite gathering spot for festivities. Can you bring a pasta salad, please?

Of course, Daisy outsold me (we sold digital prints) two to one! It was still a good way to share the day, showing our work, meeting visitors as well as neighbors, all coming together in community, in a beloved location.

If you're ever on Peaks Island, do visit the Fifth Maine. It's a charmed place.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Island to island

People wonder why an islander goes to another island on vacation. Hmmm...curiosity? Every island has a unique character, yet in Maine they do share the elemental qualities of coastal edges. We headed to Deer Isle on a recent moto-adventure, easier to get to than Peaks, in that a bridge connects it to the Blue Hill peninsula. From Portland, Mapquest said it would be a 3.5 hour drive, but for bikers prone to stopping frequently (for lunch, photo ops, gas, ice cream, donning rain suits...) it was a 6 hour ride. And that's the fun part!

We stayed at the Pilgrim's Inn, a rambling house built in 1793, that sits on a narrow spot between Northwest Harbor and a saltwater pond.

We had ridden through a downpour outside of Belfast but the skies cleared as we arrived. A fresh rainbow over the pond greeted us before dinner. Perfect!

Deer Isle is loaded with artist studios and galleries, as is the entire peninsula. The next morning we visited the Red Dot Gallery right down the street. Mozelle told us a bit about the collective of 10 artists who joined forces to open the gallery in May. I was all ears. And eyes. There's a great mix of eclectic and original work, and we couldn't resist this little bird by Laura Balombini.

We stopped in at the Periwinkle, a good old-fashioned shop with an antique cash register and the best supply of postcards around, along with used books, yarn, and Maine stuff.

We rode into Stonington for lunch and then out to Haystack for a look around. We missed the once-a-week tour, but got a glimpse of the peace and quiet that lucky students enjoy during very intense sessions. Someday, someday, I will go there. A dream for the future.

We rode back into Blue Hill to visit the Leighton Gallery, and were delighted by the current show and the amazing sculpture garden. We're never in an acquiring mood while on motorcycles, but I could have taken home several of the unique pieces on display. This urchinesque piece gave me goosebumps.

I've got to tell Nancy 3 Hoffman, who runs the Umbrella Cover Museum on Peaks, about this sculpture by Ebenezer S. Wright.
It hangs there, swaying with all the melancholy delicacy of a tattered memory.

I was very taken by this piece by Miklos Pogany.

Could it be because it bore a resemblance to this note hidden in our saddlebags by our daughter?

Yes, wise romantics, that's us.

We did more riding around, checking out the Pumpkin Island Light, a disappointment in that it was off-limits. The best part was the wavy causeway that connects Little Deer Isle to Deer Isle and the swoopy Deer Isle Bridge. I could be entertained just riding back and forth on those all day. And zooming past the cairn mounds near Caterpillar Hill.

Our ride back turned soggy, though. Rainsuits donned again near Belfast. Nonetheless, Marty stopped in a downpour to catch this quirky sight near the intersection of Route 90 and 1.

This paint job just tickles my funny bone. I liked that there was not a single slogan or bumpersticker in sight. Red, white, and blue, however you take it!

Summer lull

I did go climb the monumental Gull Rock after my last post, made famous by painters trekking to Monhegan for over a hundred years. You don't have to spit far to hit somebody working at an easel right now on the island. I almost felt guilty that I hadn't brought more art supplies myself. We realized this was our fifth year of visiting the Murdock family during their vacation. Every summer we climb the hill to the Monhegan Museum; this summer's exhibit of Lynn Drexler's work was fantastic. Here's a shot I snuck in the gallery. I love Drexler's colorful expressionism, and she sewed swatches of color with the same abandon as her paintings.

Our friendship with the Murdocks grew out of the bond formed between our daughters. The girls gravitated to each other back in preschool, both shy but imaginative. Ruby is older; the age difference showed up during our walk to Cathedral Woods, home of more fairy houses than you can count. Daisy was eagerly intent on creating hers, while Ruby idly shuffled around, waiting. I siezed the moment to sketch her. She didn't sit still long, though. The mossy roots we both perched on soaked into our skin.

Daisy's fairyhouse had a flag.

It was back to the house, dinner with the family, and watching the sky change color. I did this pastel after last year's visit, called Goodnight Manana.

Later, as we went inside to launch a rather silly talent show, the skies opened. Marty set off to document a nearby bonfire, a small piece of island theater.

Fires on an island are dangerous, but controlled burns are highly anticipated. A couple of years ago, Elena was thrilled to get the go-ahead from the burn man for her pile of debris down on the rocks in front of her house. Conditions have to be just right, weather-wise. I drew this pastel, Time to Burn, with double meaning for the drama added to simple events on Monhegan.

Here is a shot by Marty of the crowd at the fire, just before the rains and thunder scattered them.

The images from Monhegan manage to sustain me for months.