River Arts rocks it: There is a fabulous new exhibit on the walls (and pedestals) of the River Arts gallery in Damariscotta. “Figures & Sculpture” features the work of more than 60 artists from all over Maine, including such names as Belfast’s David Estey and Rockland painter Ronald Frontin.
I spent time perusing the show last Friday morning, just hours before the gallery was set to go into full-blown art reception mode, and had the pleasure of chatting with Freeport fiber artist Cathie Stebbins Peterson, who was the volunteer on gallery duty at the time.
Peterson steered me toward certain interesting pieces, such as Edgecomb resident John Lorence’s three bronze sculptures. “He usually paints,” she told me.
We both marveled over the skill it must have taken ceramic artist Catherine Gibson, of Orr’s Island, to produce the whimsical, ethereal waxed earthenware piece called “Sing Loudly Until it’s Over.” Both Peterson and I, who have some experience working with clay, tried to figure out just how Gibson managed to get the clay to be so thin in this glorious hollowed-out bust of a woman with fish-like lips. I wondered if there was any way one could inflate a balloon to expand the wet clay from the inside, as both rounded-out sections of the piece seem almost impossible to have been manipulated by hand (though they probably were).
And how does one manage to not explode such a delicate piece in the kiln?
Moving on, there is just so much to look at in this show, which gallery organizers Alice de Mauriac and her husband, Julio Sanchez Banos, have helpfully (and artfully) organized into thematic sections. One section of the gallery, for instance, is focused on the human figure and includes oil depictions of reclining nude males by Nobleboro’s Carolyn Gabbe and Waldoboro’s Roberta Goschke.
Valerie Greene, of Waldoboro, weighs in with a dreamy green-hued acrylic painting called “Woman III.” Trevett photographer Peter Felsenthal’s “Romer,” a beautiful painting-like photograph of a contemplative young woman, is a standout in a section of the show comprising various portraits in pastel, charcoal, oil, and acrylic.
Near the gallery’s bay window stands “Lefty,” a carved basswood sculpture by John Moro, of Rockport. “Lefty” features only the left arm and shoulder of a man, and a baseball. The details of the striking piece – the veins on the arm and the stitching on the ball – are exquisite.
Hanging in the window behind “Lefty” is “Study for Gaia,” a lovely piece by Newcastle fabric artist K.L. Starr of three female figures. The choice to hang Starr’s piece in the window as opposed to on the wall was a good one, as it nicely catches the outdoor light, showing off the colors of the hanging to good effect.
The work of Sally Stanton, of Northport, and Petrea Noyes, of Lincolnville, should be sought out. Stanton’s colorful mixed media pieces featuring imaginative cartoon-like figures are a lot of fun to look at, as are Noyes’ mixed media canvases “Bumbershoot” and “Big Marcy from Miami.” Noyes, in my experience, never fails to delight and stimulate the viewer.
Note: Frontin’s and Estey’s work hangs prominently near the front entrance to River Arts, as it should. Frontin’s “The Struggle,” a mixed-media-on-paper piece depicting a woman with wings sitting on a stool, is particularly nice. Estey’s charcoal drawing “Dylan Reclining” is notable for its framing of the male figure – its left foot is “cut off” in Estey’s drawing – and for the creative manner in which Estey suggests the surface on which the man rests his legs without actually drawing it.
Take some time to take in this excellent show, folks.
“Figures and Sculpture” runs through Saturday, April 7. Also check out Penelope Moodey’s abstract painting show on the walls of River Arts’ West Gallery, which runs through Saturday, April 7, and the “Juror’s Choice” show in the Invitational Gallery, between the main gallery and the West Gallery, which closes Saturday, March 31.
River Arts is online at riverartsme.org.
(Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write me a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543. I love to hear from readers.)