“The less there is to look at, the more important it is that we look at it closely and carefully. This is critical to abstract art. Small differences make all the difference.” – Kirk Varnedoe, “Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock”
Less is more: I visited River Arts in Damariscotta last Friday afternoon, Oct. 25, a few hours before the opening reception for the gallery’s new “Abstraction” exhibit was to begin – a nice quiet time, the lull before the storm of joyful activity that openings are.
The exhibit, in River Arts’ main gallery, is loaded with abstract paintings produced by such well-known area artists as Elaine Eskesen, Alice de Mauriac, Jaap Eduard Helder, Helen Warner, Judy Nixon, and David Estey. It also offers some three-dimensional creations, such as Belgrade glass artist C.G. Meeker’s colorful gel-infused plates and Barbara Bean’s comical assemblage sculpture named “Big Bird.”
“Abstraction” was juried by printmaker and painter Michel Droge, who, incidentally, will be interviewed by Newcastle painter Jane Dahmen at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta as part of the theater’s free Talking Art in Maine: Intimate Conversations series.
Harpswell painter Leslie Murray’s “Hollywood Hills,” a large oil painting on panel, is a stand-out in the “Abstraction” show in part for its unique technique of depicting the barest hint of lines of lights using layered painted dots that resemble tiny fish scales.
Patti Bradley, of Bristol, offers another striking large oil painting, “Storm Receding,” whose dynamic cloudy sky occupies the upper two-thirds of the piece.
Walter Chop’s large acrylic painting titled “Strange Gathering” – crowded with elongated characters in red, pink, yellow, gray, and orange, including a lone skeleton – is a fun piece to stand in front of and study.
Greg Mason Burns’ oil painting on paper titled “The Chair in the Blue Room,” in bold blue, red, and black, can be seen as depicting two chairs, or one chair, as the title suggests. Part of the fun of viewing abstract art is that various interpretations can be had of a particular piece.
Manning the gallery on Friday was Freeport fiber artist C.S. Peterson, known for her exquisite landscape “paintings” in wool. Always a pleasure to talk with, Peterson told me about her new show in River Arts’ West Gallery, “Nature’s Beauty in Fiber and Clay,” with talented Whitefield potter Libbey Seigars. The opening reception for Seigars and Peterson’s exhibit is Saturday, Nov. 2 from 2-4 p.m. and the show runs through Friday, Nov. 22.
“Abstraction” runs through Saturday, Nov. 23.
River Arts is located at 241 Route 1, Damariscotta, and is online at riverartsme.org. Call 563-1507 for more information.
(Christine LaPado-Breglia is an award-winning journalist who has written about the arts in both California and Maine. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543.)