Where It’s At

September’s First Friday: Immersion through imagination

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 3:00pm

    The four Boothbay Harbor art galleries participating in First Friday on Sept. 1 positively buzzed with activity.

    Art lovers made their way from Boothbay Region Art Foundation (BRAF) to Gleason Fine Art, to Studio 53 and then across the Footbridge to Joy to the Wind, checking out new shows, catching up with or meeting favorite artists and all while enjoying refreshments of the liquid-savory-sweet varieties.

    Over at BRAF the action started before the 5 p.m. open house – and people were buying! The Fall Members Show is exhibited on the first floor in, you guessed it, all media: photography, paintings – oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor; sculpture, pottery, assemblage. Really stunning work.

    Upstairs there’s one more summer show from Villard Studios in the Harbor Room. This one is entitled “Collections.” Since 1989 Kim and Philipe Villard have been making white-line color woodcuts: Philippe draws and carves the lines on a woodblock. Kim works with the watercolors to create the distinctive art they are known for. In 2014 the couple wrote the “White Line Color Woodblock” printing guidebook. Over the past few decades this couple have become synonymous with the technique and the entire “Collections” show is evidence of their mastery and creativity.

    Kim has a few informational stands up describing the technique. And the show …. ooh-la-la! Magnifique! The collections are separated into headings: Space (constellations), Architecture (Opera House at Boothbay Harbor), Historical Works, Micro (which includes lovely honey bee wings, cabernet sauvignon flowers, horseshoe crab iron blood cells – interesting choice this one, no?– flowers), Lighthouses (Ram, Cuckolds, among them); Black and White; Inside Out; Animal Kingdom (frog, painted turtle), Water (sea duck ripple, fisherman and his catch); Botanical (violets, poppies); and a favorite: The Garden of the (Five) Senses at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is imprinted on the inside of a person’s palm and fingers … (I heard this line from I Am the Walrus, “I am he as you are he as you are me And we are all together…” as soon as I looked at this one). But, my absolute favorite piece in the show is not for sale: It is the 4 or so foot woodblock of lupines in the forefront of a water scene with boats and other plants. So ... Retrouvez le spectacle de Villard avant le 28 septembre !

    At Gleason Fine Art there were two new shows and two receptions going on. People having conversations about paintings with, in some cases, someone they didn’t know – and isn’t that the fun of this kind of event? The two artists with shows are Janice Anthony’s “At One With Nature” and Roger Dale Brown’s “Painting the Town.”

    Janet’s space is the room to the left, if you enter the gallery from Townsend Avenue. Her show is entitled “At One With Nature.” Her largest piece in the show, there is a 22” x 40” painting there – already with a red dot on the card (sold before the First Friday reception!) - “Schoodic Point.” The artist said this is one of her favorite locations. “I really love all of the rocks,” she said, adding, “The large one took two months. For example, there was a lot more pink in the stones originally and they are so interesting. I finally had to put it against the wall and start on something else. I just couldn’t look at it anymore!”

    One of two Janice Anthony acrylic paintings that grabbed, and kept, my attention were “Above Moxie Falls” and “Vaughn Cascade.” Janice loves traveling to rather remote areas of the state where she takes photos and then paints in-studio.

    In “Above Moxie Falls,” on the wall where the gallery desk and computer are near the doorway to the Brown show, this woodland scene has a large-ish rock cradled across two others with young trees growing on top of the rock, sinewy and leafless. The textures of the trunks and patterns in the rocks keep me locked in. Fallen pine needles make a narrow stream along two rocks below. And the colors – greens, grays, browns, that bit of blue behind tells you it is day – and the perspective: If you place yourself in the painting (and who doesn’t?) the balancing rock is above you. I could spend many days in that one.

    “Vaughn Cascade” is a bit on the otherworldly side, or, as I said to Janice, “it’s real and imagined at the same time. The water current is clearly moving downward, but that I felt was a distraction. The light, the shadows of the wood .. I found myself in the water moving against the current, drawn by some force or remembrance … through towards the beginnings of the stream moving further and further back in time. Man, that was interesting.

    As I sat down to write about First Friday, I checked out Janice Anthony’s artist statement on Gleason’s website. It was obvious why I enjoyed her work. Check this out: “I feel a great affection for the otherness of the natural world, for a place which I have just entered which existed autonomously before I saw and felt it and which continues to exist when I leave ... For me the magic of landscape is that it is actually a parallel world to that of humankind. I am delighted when I find a place that is perfect in its wholeness, clearly a world apart, that requires nothing of me, and that offers me nothing but a vision of its self-sufficiency. I don’t want to be merely in a place that exists outside and beyond me, I want to become that place.”

    See what I mean? One more thing about this artist: She deliberately does not put humans in her paintings and her reasons make complete sense to me – one who likes to jump in paintings in the hope of finding an absorbing escape from reality...“If you put a person in a painting, or show one has been there, it becomes about them, they own that space,” explained Janice. “It’s their story, their feelings that speak. This way (without people) it is the viewer’s space.”

    At Studio 53, 15 paintings of the late Robert Hamilton were the talk of the festivities. The paintings are donated – not for sale – by gallery owners/artists Heidi Seidelhuber and Terry Seaman, and artists David Estey, and Paula Ragsdale. Studio 53 is an absolute treasure trove: a feast for the eyes and imagination thanks to the compelling art spanning its three floors. The art donors have something in common with each other and Hamilton: the Rhode Island School of Design. All four donors are RISD grads where Hamilton was a professor. And man, oh Manischewitz does Terry have some stories and know some fascinating details about the revered Mr. Hamilton. What stories, you ask? Ahh, well, running out of space here so get on over to the gallery.

    Joy to the Wind over on Atlantic Avenue is a popular place! Colorful art, colorful, interesting people. And, there are always people buying art there. Conversation about this person’s art or that one’s, hugs, laughter ... chocolate and libations ... and always, always art being sold to be admired in a new space. Thank heavens we can always go back for more!

    The final First Friday of 2023 is on Oct. 6. See ya round the galleries!