The Carey Gallery, the little art gallery at the rear of Skidompha Public Library in Damariscotta, is currently hosting an intriguing little art show consisting of seven collaborative paintings by South Bristol artist Joy Vaughan and Newcastle artist Katharina Keoughan. Aptly titled “Snow Fence Paintings,” this show features paintings that have their genesis in pieces of bright-orange plastic snow fence.
As pointed out in a recent press release, “Keoughan became intrigued with the variety of oval shapes in the snow fence outside her studio. … Keoughan brought a section of the fence to Vaughan and suggested they use the design in their abstract collaborative work.”
“These artists work on the same piece in the same session,” Vaughan and Keoughan’s artist statement accompanying the show states. “They move from one painting to another, adding to, altering, or even obscuring what the other has done.” It is an interesting process that has produced some interesting work.
Upon entering the gallery via the library’s Elm Street entrance, one encounters “Snow Fence Series #20,” a beautiful acrylic-on-paper piece in reds and golds, reminding one of the decorative money envelopes given out to celebrate Chinese New Year (which, incidentally, is coming up on Saturday, Jan. 28). The pattern of the snow-fence holes in this piece are not presented in relief, as in most of the paintings in this show. Rather, they blend into the surface along with the squares, rectangles, and small black and red lines that embellish this lovely abstract painting.
Hanging near a section of unadorned snow fence that the artists have thoughtfully included in the show is “Snow Fence Series #7,” a piece in which the original “stencil” of a section of snow fence has been almost entirely obscured by deep-red paint. In the lower third of the painting, progressively harder to make out the closer one gets to the bottom of the piece, is the word “RED,” in capital letters, written three times. Splotches of paint entertainingly adorn the margins of this bold painting.
“Snow Fence Series #4,” in various shades of blue adorned with what seem to be thick pencil markings, also playfully sports what seems to be an outline of a large bright-blue heart. “Snow Fence Series #3,” in which the fence holes are visible even into the margins of the piece, features a turquoise background on which patches of gold – or yellow and burnt-orange, depending on the light – appear. “Snow Fence Series #10” is a delicate piece done in pastel colors over a penciled-in grid.
This reviewer would have liked to have seen more of these pieces in the show – there are at least 20 paintings in the “Snow Fence Paintings” series, as the title “Snow Fence Series #20” attests to. And one also wonders why Keoughan and Vaughan did not sign the pieces in this praiseworthy show.
“Snow Fence Paintings” runs through Tuesday, Jan. 31. Skidompha Public Library is located at 184 Main St., Damariscotta.