Just back from the show at Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, VA. Above is Michael Preble (2nd from left), the Curator of PFAC, introducing the exhibit to the crowd who came to the opening. I had talked about watching Michael experimenting with the arrangement of the show in the previous blog. Somehow he got all 50 of my oils, pastels and vine charcoal drawings to hang together in a wonderfully cohesive and elegant display before the doors opened late Friday afternoon. Also he put together what is undoubtedly the most thoughtful and best looking text panels to accompany and give background to the art work. I was very impressed with the job he and his staff did.
Here's The Song of All Days, a six foot wide oil that was done strictly from my imagination and memory. It's sort of a memorializing painting that sums up the gratitude I have for all the years I have been able to watch countless sunsets on countless shores. No one painting can encompass all that experience, but none the less I feel this one comes as close as anyone could. It is a personal favorite of mine.
The two photos above are from PFAC's largest exhibit space, the grand Ferguson Gallery with beautiful hardwood floors and a soaring ceiling. At the other end of the facility is another large space, the Halsey Gallery, that while still large has more intimate feel to it with a soft couch and carpeting. I loved the change in tenor of the show as one moved from one space to another. Here is an oil painting that's never been exhibited before, Under the Moon., 23 x 36". It's an imagined night time view of a house that used to stand in my neighborhood. I had painted a daylight version of the house with bright sunlight on the snow while standing on top of a frozen snow drift with my portable French easel. It turned out well but sold almost immediately to a collector. I found myself missing the painting.
While I had been standing out in the snow painting the earlier version my eye had been caught by a movement in the topmost window of the house. There spying down on me was a large orange cat. He came each of the afternoons I returned to work on the painting to keep an eye on me, The whole time I never saw anyone enter or leave the house, so I assumed an elderly person perhaps lived there alone.
A few months later the house burned to the ground one night. While I hope whoever lived there was OK, I confess my concern really was for the cat. Wondering about its fate kind of stuck in my mind. Eventually an image of the way the house would have looked under a full moon formed in my head. I set to work painting it and Under the Moon resulted. It's a very solemn image I know, but given my anxiety about the cat's fate, that only seemed appropriate.
And here below is one of the visitors standing next to my oil The Voyage of Memory. This too is a highly autobiographical painting. When I was about 8 my father bought a tiny single-sailed cat boat and taught me to sail. I had always felt especially close to my father and when he died just after I turned 13 it was a severe blow.
The morning he died the wind was blowing unusually hard off Lake Ontario where we lived. Feeling somewhat numb I abruptly took that little sailboat out on the water despite the unsafe conditions. I just didn't care what happened that morning.
Over the years that reckless voyage has come into my mind often. I began to wonder if I might make a better peace with the turmoil it represented if I re-imagined that morning differently. So I changed the location of that perilous voyage. Instead of the rough seas I imagined a too narrow channel between steep cliffs. It's possible to sail down this passage but safety isn't guaranteed. That seemed a better symbol for the the excitements, drama, and perils of living. This is also one of my person favorites in this exhibit.
I'll show more photos from the show in some subsequent posts. PFAC's exhibit runs through Oct. 2.