In late September, Winslow Myers and his partner, fellow artist Patti Bradley, returned from a three-week trip to Italy, where they saw “an incredible amount of art,” as Myers put it in a late-October interview at the couple’s Bristol home. They were so inspired by what they saw on their Italian vacation – especially the numerous little workshop-galleries in Florence from which artists sell their wares – that they turned a section of their home into an art gallery shortly arriving back in Maine from Europe. The new gallery, which they named Petrel Fine Arts, features an ongoing, rotating exhibit of the art of Myers and Bradley.
“We made the decision to turn this room into the actual gallery,” said Bradley, indicating the spacious, well-lit room in the center of the house, adjacent to the room that serves as their joint art studio.
“This was a kitchen-cabinet factory before it was a house,” said Myers. “We have the space. If this were a little Cape Cod (house), it wouldn’t work.”
The open floor plan of the Myers-Bradley home lends itself perfectly to the creation of a gallery capable of displaying large-format paintings such as the ones Myers is known for. Myers, who describes himself as “a person who lives in Maine but is not necessarily a Maine painter,” has made 27 of these roughly 60-by-60-inch paintings that make up his impressive “Passages” series.
Created from two separate paintings skillfully bolted together into an interesting juxtaposition, the composition of each of Myers’ “Passages” pieces is carefully planned ahead of time. Myers, who is also an accomplished portrait artist, creates sketches and studies of each finished piece, deciding which two seemingly unrelated scenes will fit together best as a final piece of art.
In “Passages #11,” Myers juxtaposes a colorful fall scene featuring a bridge and a river with a view of a balcony in winter as seen through a cozy sitting-room window. In “Passages #19,” he merges a New York City-inspired image featuring buildings with one depicting a nature scene in Baja California, Mexico. “Passages #23” consists of a colorful Maine-like landscape painting of water, rocks, and trees in daylight alongside a gray-tone painting of a lone train car sitting on the tracks in the snow; the contrast between the two scenes makes for thought-provoking viewing.
Myers, a vibrant 75-year-old who is also a writer, is currently at work on a book about the late Walter Tandy Murch, his former art teacher. “I think I’m working harder than when I was a teacher,” said Myers, who is retired from teaching drawing and painting at Assumption College in Massachusetts, and art history and foundation drawing at the Rhode Island School of Design.
For her part, Bradley, who is 73 and retired from a career as an art therapist and psychotherapist, is pleased at this point in her life to have time to paint. “I’d always painted,” said Bradley, an oil painter and pastel artist, “but I had never been able to devote myself to painting full-time until I retired.”
Bradley is also clearly thrilled about being able to show her work at Petrel Fine Arts. “You paint and paint, and you enjoy other people looking at your artwork. You don’t do anything in a vacuum,” she said, adding that “a feedback loop is necessary for the creative process.”
Myers concurred. “I’m interested in their reactions,” he said of the importance of having an audience for one’s art. In addition to displaying and selling his art through Petrel Fine Arts, Myers is represented by Yvette Torres Fine Arts in Rockland.
Bradley said that she likes “being able to get up and paint and have it all right here,” adding that it is “really helpful to have Winslow, who is much more experienced, to talk to.”
“It really does go the other way – I often consult Patti,” Myers said.
Bradley and Myers agreed that it is hard to know how busy next summer will be for their fledgling gallery, but should the number of visitors to the gallery turn out to be large, they “can control business with the ‘open’ flag,” said Bradley. Myers and Bradley said that they have no plans at this time to invite guest artists to show at Petrel Fine Arts.
An open house featuring hors d’oeuvres will take place at Petrel Fine Arts, which is located at 16 Bristol Pines Road in Bristol, from 2-5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20. Gallery hours are flexible – look for the gallery’s “open” flag. Call 350-6502 for more information.