Sunday, August 25, 2013

Colby College Museum of Art



 

I'm just back from a wonderful trip up to Maine to paint and attend my opening for Isalos Fine Art's current show Inside Edward Hopper's World: Paintings by Philip Koch (through Sept. 2 in Stonington, ME). One of the other highlights of the trip was my chance to visit the newly expanded Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville. It received a big new gift of the Lunder Collection is now the largest art museum in Maine. It's worth a trip to see.

Diana Tuite, who has just joined the Colby Museum as its new Katz Curator was kind enough to take time out of her schedule (she was right in the middle of moving to new home in Waterville) to come meet me and chat for awhile. Diana was one of the people who organized the important exhibition Edward Hopper's Maine at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the most extensive look ever taken at Hopper's long involvement with Maine as a subject for his work.

Here's a few of my favorites from the Colby Museum.

First, a charcoal and graphite drawing by Maine's foremost artist, Winslow Homer titled Woman Looking Out to Sea from 1881-2. We don't often get to see drawings by Homer and they give us almost a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what made him so remarkable a painter.


 


In the drawing Homer is experimenting with changing the viewer's focus away from the expected. Charcoal is a perfect medium for Homer to move his dark and light tones around until he arrived at just the best composition. I love the two white accents in the center of the drawing- the white cloud right in back of the fisher woman with the upraised arm, and the tiny white spot between her apron and the huge stone block just to her right.  Homer knew that his figures would only come fully to life if he activated the spaces around them. He does it so beautifully here. 

Here's a stunningly sensitive Sanford Gifford (American 1823-1880) oil, Twilight in the Adirondacks from 1864.




Two of my all time favorite painters are Edward Hopper (American 1882-1967) and Rockwell Kent (American 1882-1971).
They were classmates at the New York School of Art and each went on to stellar careers. Kent today is less well known as he was blacklisted for his leftist views. He is well worth looking at.

Here's Kent's oil Tugboat on the Hudson from 1904.




And Kent's large oil Headlands and Sea from 1910 on Monhegan Island. Both Hopper and Kent spent considerable time on Monhegan when young and both were fascinated by the rougher Eastern side of the island where the more massive rocky cliffs provide an extra measure of drama. I can personally attest to the fact these two guys were wild men as you have to carry your painting equipment over long and sometime difficult paths to reach these views. I did it in my 50's and realized afresh how vigorous they were.





Colby has another Maine coast view by the far more genteel painter Fairfield Porter (Am. 1907-1975), North Point No. 1, from 1972. Where Hopper and Kent's early coastal paintings were all about muscle and action, Porter shows us a more quieter side of the ocean. I think the subtle color gradation in the water is just perfect here- transitioning from cooler blue grays in the background to warmer grays up front. Porter is reminding us there can be a powerful expressive feeling in restraint and delicacy just as much as in more bravura brushwork of early Kent and early Hopper.




Edward Hopper's watercolor House with Big Pine from 1935, an unsentimental view of a house in Eastham, MA on Cape Cod, just down the road from his studio in S. Truro that is the subject of my own current exhibit in Stonington.




And Colby's elegant William Paxton (Am. 1869-1941) oil The Open Book from 1922. I love the echo of the curves of the woman's arms and neckline repeated in the foreground chair's arm.






Here's a few more photos from my exhibit in Stonington of my paintings of Hopper's studio. Below is the Isalos Fine Art's front window in the early morning sun. Hanging on the wall is my vine charcoal Edward Hopper's Beach, Looking North (see below).








The gallery at night. Hanging at the left Truro Studio Door, a pastel done in Hopper's painting room looking out at Cape Cod Bay, and to its right my oil painted in Hopper's studio bedroom, Hopper Bedroom and Bench. (see below)










Isalos also has two of my Maine coastal oils up in the exhibit, Monhegan Dawn, Ochre and below it From Day to Night, a painting of the Penobscot Bay.














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