Community enrichment through the arts: “I’m pleased to display a few of my pieces at the CLC Y because the Y is a major focal point of our community’s resilience,” wrote Bristol artist Winslow Myers in a recent press release for his 10-painting exhibit currently on the walls of the Central Lincoln County YMCA in Damariscotta. “Maine is a place where there is so much harsh beauty in the landscape, so much character and generosity in the people, so many gifted artists that a life in art here is a collegial feast.”
Resilience, harsh beauty, character – Myers beautifully captures these qualities of the landscape and the people of Maine in his artwork, both his large-scale landscape pieces and his (smaller) portraits.
“Passages 22” and “Passages 26” are two paintings from Myers’ Passages series in the current Y show. The series features large landscape paintings formed by joining two smaller paintings into one big eye-catching piece, with the effect often being that the viewer is (pleasantly) forced to make sense of why Myers chose to juxtapose the two particular paintings that make up each piece.
“Passages 22,” which is hung near the Y’s front entrance, features on the left a painting focused closely on a sailboat on the water, its clean sail lines contrasting with the ripples of the water and the naturally rounded lines of the trees in the distance. On the right of “Passages 22” is a painting of a green metal bridge, its geometric lines in strong contrast to the organic tree shapes in the piece.
Taken as a whole, the two joined paintings offer contrast within each piece, while also offering the viewer an opportunity to decide how the boat scene might relate to the bridge painting as a whole. On the level of pure visual entertainment, it works nicely with its contrasting straight and curved lines, and like a number of Myers’ other Passages pieces (see them all at winslowmyers.com), it depicts versions of passage from one location to another.
Hanging next to “Passages 22” is one of Myers’ several portraits in the show, “Portrait of Julia,” a strong, likable depiction of an older woman. Myers’ portrait paintings are notable for the warmth they exude, capturing some sort of essence of the subject. Also notable (and refreshing) is the way Myers does not shy away from painting people’s teeth very realistically, their little imperfections included.
In “Carscape 2,” Myers gets into slightly surreal territory with his bold depiction of a Maine highway scene through a car windshield. Unlike his Passages pieces, this is a single large, square painting, and its angular, lit-up GPS screen and yellow-and-black road sign contrast wonderfully with the almost-silhouetted fluffy clouds and feathery trees outside. Striking, too, is what appears to be the speedometer on the car’s instrument panel – mostly blue and white and round, and appearing like some sort of all-knowing eye. Myers is clearly having fun with this piece.
I reached out to Casey Clark Kelley, the CLC YMCA’s director of operations, to talk a little about the importance of having art at the Y and to weigh in on Myers’ art in particular. Here is what she said: “Central Lincoln County YMCA is a hub of our community, where people of all ages and backgrounds come together for shared activities. Our open and bustling lobby provides an ideal location to share the amazing art that is created locally. This allows our community a venue to express itself, as well as showcase the talents of artists and children in our area.
“Art is integral in our culture, as it provides us with a deeper understanding of emotions, self-awareness, beauty, education, and so much more.
“Winslow Myers’ work is a beautiful example of how this sharing of art and culture can enrich our community. His vibrant and unique paintings catch the eye of all who walk by and transfix people, as they discover more details that at first they didn’t see.
“It isn’t often in our busy lives that we fully stop and give something our full attention and consideration, but art like Winslow’s almost forces us to do that. We feel lucky to be able to house the work of such talented artists, especially as we get to appreciate it every day.”
Myers’ exhibit runs through Sunday, Dec. 22. The CLC Y is located at 525 Main St., Damariscotta.
Why the arts? (continued): Last week, “Artsbeat” was focused on the question “Why are the arts important?” I asked the question of a number of people, including Cathy Sherrill, who is the executive director of The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor. Sherrill was not able to get back to me in time for last week’s column, as she was out of town, but I include her response this week: “For me, the arts are essential, as something we as a community experience together, especially live performances. We sit together, we listen and react together, we celebrate and are sometimes in awe of the artist’s work, and sometimes we move uncomfortably in our seats, but we do it together. In an increasingly divided society, for me the arts bring us closer to understanding each other. In the end we may not all agree that what we’ve heard or seen has been inspiring, enjoyable, or even interesting, but we talk about it. When we laugh as an audience, it ripples through us all. When we sing together, whether out loud, or to ourselves, it brings us closer.”
If there is anyone out there who would like to weigh in on this question, please send your response to my email address (at the end of this column). Thanks!
(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.)