Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Florence Griswold Museum, Edward Hopper House, Art Essex Gallery



This last weekend I traveled through New York and Connecticut delivering paintings to the Art Essex Gallery in Essex, CT for my show opening May 14. Almost next door in Old Lyme is the historic Florence Griswold Museum, " the Home of American Impressionism." Lured by the almost comically perfect Spring weather, I spent a couple of hours strolling through the grounds and galleries on the Griswold's May 3 Free Day. They had a big turn out and everyone seemed just as dazzled by the weather as I was.  Given the American Impressionist's devotion to painting sunlight in nature, the day couldn't have been more thematically appropriate. 

Above is one of the most archetypal American Impressionist paintings ever made, On the Piazza, by William Chadwick (Am. 1879-1962), a view of the porch on the guest house Florence Griswold ran for a generation of Impressionist painters. The Museum moved Chadwick's nearby studio to its own grounds and has it open to the public. It's full of the artist's easels and equipment, looking like they are just waiting for Chadwick to return and pick up the brush. I was struck by how much it looked and felt like my own painting studio in Baltimore. 





Here's part of the crowd enjoying the sun outside the back entrance to Miss Florence's boarding house.




One of my particular favorites of the Old Lyme Colony artists is Willard Metcalf (Am. 1858-1925). His oil Dogwood Blossoms from 1906 is hanging in one of the main house's upstairs galleries. It's a perfect example of Metcalf's ability to partially dissolve his forms into an all encompassing sun-filled atmosphere. His sense of balance between clear defined forms at the right foreground and suggestive distant trees is elegant.




I've always been a partisan of drawing as a key ingredient in expressive painting. An unexpected pleasure was a display case containing sketchbooks by Old Lyme artists. A real beauty is this study by Robert Vonnah (Am. 1858-1933) of bright sunshine falling on these closely bunched farm buildings (please excuse the reflections of the ceiling lights on the glass case). Even in their black and white work you can see the intense scrutiny the Impressionist artists gave to light effects. For them it was the main story.



The Museum grounds seen from the Chadwick studio.


  
Here's the fanciful Anticipator sculpture by Mathew Geller. It playfully spews forth a cloud of steam and sprinkling water drops. In the background is the Lieutenant River. Overall the setting of the Museum grounds is stunningly beautiful.




The next day I traveled to Nyack, New York. I was one of the speakers at the Edward Hopper House Art Center's May 4 Spring fundraising event, At Home with Jo and Edward Hopper. I spoke about the pivotal role Hopper's art played in turning me from painting abstractly to working in a realist direction as a artist. Here I am that morning working away on a vine charcoal drawing of the second floor corner bedroom where Hopper was born and lived until he moved to Manhattan just before he turned 30.


 Art Essex Gallery in Essex. CT will be showing a lot of my newest work in a 3 artist exhibition May 14 - June 8. My wife Alice and I will be attending the Saturday, May 17 opening reception ( 4 to 7 p.m.). All are welcome.

Here's some of my work that will be on display. Uncharted II, oil on panel, 18 x 24". To me it's a painting that talks about both the allure and the uncertainty of facing the unknown. 






Thicket II, oil on linen, 28 x 42", a painting celebrating a sun-filled clearing that relieves the darkness in a deep forest interior. 





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