Billis Gallery Solo Show
Here's part of the crowd that came out Thursday night for the opening reception in New York at Chelsea's George Billis Gallery. The gallery has a big window facing out onto W. 26th St. and you get a preview from the street of the paintings hung in the show.
Here at the right is my painting Otter Cove, 44 x 55". with an unobstructed view following below.
Otter Cove was painted from some on-the-spot vine charcoal drawings I did on Maine's Mt. Desert Island. Years ago I had been struck by a wonderful painting by the American Hudson River School artist Frederic Church. He made his painting standing at this very spot on the Island but had faced inland toward the island's mountains. With my artistic forefather pleasantly in mind, I turned and faced out to sea instead (I figured Church wouldn't want the competition if I had tackled the same view he'd painted).
I imagined the scene at early morning with the sun just coming up over the Atlantic Ocean and changed the time of year from summer to winter, adding some heavy snowfall to the trees at the left.
Here's my wife Alice and I standing in front of the oil The Reach IV, 40 x 60" (photo courtesy of Joseph Sweeney). Like the preceding Otter Cove, this oil is a coastal view, but one done farther south on Cape Cod. It is a painting based in part of the walks Alice and I have taken during our 14 residencies in the former painting studio of the famous American realist Edward Hopper. If the painting continued farther to the left, Hopper's place would be right in the space between Alice's and my head.
The other big source for the painting is my memory of going sailing in a tiny boat at night with my father when I was about 10 years old. My dad was an adventurous sort. Though I always felt a little uneasy about night sailing, I figured as long as my dad was there it would turn out alright, It did. And it provided me with one of my fondest memories from my childhood. What better than to combine the memories of the Hopper beach and the childhood nocturnal sailing to make a new painting.
The last two oils were large paintings made back in my studio. I also do small work, lots of it. Here's a wall of five oils on panel in the show. I'll write about each of them in my next blog post in a couple of days. (If you click on the photo you can see a larger image). The second from the left pieces, the only interior painting, is from Edward Hopper's boyhood home in Nyack, NY. I spent time there this spring and summer painting the famous artist's bedroom. It's now the Edward Hopper House Art Center. Below you can see this row of five little paintings on the wall at the far left to give you a sense of the scale difference with the first two paintings I talked about.
And here is the gallery desk with Tamar Holton-Hinshaw, the Gallery manager, and Rob Motto sharing a lighter moment. Gallery people work very hard to keep the doors open and stage exhibits like mine. For this we artists should be grateful.
Just to the right is my vine charcoal drawing Hopper Studio Kitchen, 8 x 10". This is one of five pieces in the gallery that are done on Edward Hopper themes. It was drawn in the small kitchen in Hopper's Cape Cod studio in S. Truro, MA. Those are the table and chairs where Hopper and his wife Jo wouldeat their breakfast. Usually it's a little cool in their studio and I imagine how the two of the would have warmed themselvs over coffee as the morning sunlight would stream in these two east facing windows.