Belfast oil-enamel painter Jon Byrer’s current show on the walls of The Carey Gallery at Skidompha Public Library in Damariscotta is a lovely reminder that spring is on its way. None of Byrer’s large landscape paintings feature snow. Instead, they offer colorful glimpses of the world as it will look shortly – full of flowers, rushing water, and beautiful skies.
“In the Garden” features orange, yellow, and white flowers along a garden path bordered by a rustic fence. Overhead, fluffy pink clouds seem to move through a cheery blue sky. “Lupine Fence” cheers the viewer with its pink and blue lupines growing alongside a farmyard fence; a nearby farmhouse sits beneath a dreamy blue, yellow, and white sky. The sunny yellow sky and rushing blue water of “Belfast Bridges” remind the viewer that Maine is not called “Vacationland” without reason.
Byrer’s painting technique is particularly notable, and is responsible for such responses as what one woman walking through the exhibit said of the paintings: “They’re beautiful, aren’t they? And to think he did it with a nail and paint.”
True, Byrer’s paintings are beautiful, but they are not painted using a nail, though the “scratchy” appearance of the way the paint is applied to the canvas could easily lead a person to think that.
Rather, Byrer lays a canvas on a flat surface and pours on his paints from above. A video of Byrer creating his art, which one can watch at jonbyrer.com/about, shows the process by which Byrer pours on paints in a somewhat Jackson Pollock-like manner. The amazing result, however, is not an abstract piece of art – Byrer’s unconventional technique yields gorgeous landscapes that make one wonder how he gets such control without using a brush. His inviting “Hay Bales,” a Van Gogh-like depiction of rolled-up bales of hay in a field, very much benefits from this approach, as does “Good First Day,” with its swirled foliage and long, blue tree shadows, and “Brooks,” featuring Byrer’s “scrawled” painting style at its most intense.
Overall, it is a most interesting and inviting exhibit.
Byrer’s show will run through Sunday, April 30. Skidompha Public Library is located at 184 Main St., Damariscotta.