The current art show on the walls of the two floors of the Damariscotta River Grill features the work of three talented female artists, Lee Rowan, Joy Linder, and the late East Boothbay oil painter and watercolorist Lina Burley. Burley, a popular and accomplished artist who passed away in 2005, studied under the well-known German dadaist George Grosz, among others, at the Art Students League of New York during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
While the artwork of Rowan, a needlework-designer-turned-painter, and watercolorist Linder is thoroughly enjoyable to look at, coming upon Burley’s abstract works ought to be viewed as a special treat, in part because they possess both impressionistic qualities as well as those reminiscent of the abstract expressionist movement that put New York at the center of the modern-art map.
“Living on the coast of Maine, surrounded by the beauty of the landscape and the alternate turmoil and quietness of the sea, I have for many years been dedicated to painting these natural forms, simplifying and altering the obvious scenery in an attempt to capture the atmosphere and essence of this special place,” is how Burley described her approach in a quote at linaburleymaineartstudio.com.
Burley’s oil painting “Linekin #4,” her “Harbor Eve” – an abstract watercolor of buildings and sailless boats with an unmistakeable early ’60s vibe – and her inviting oil-on-canvas painting “Woodpaths” ought to be sought out. The same goes for her “Shoreline Glow,” an abstract oil in various shades of tan with a streak of slate blue, and the intriguing “Still Life with Fruit,” a very abstract oil painting in mostly blue tones, featuring what appears to be fruit that has “slipped” down the canvas into the lower left-hand corner.
As impressive as Burley’s pieces are, it must be said, however, that two of her paintings that have been included in this show are not up to the caliber of the others – the canvas of “Linekin #6” is buckled and “Sea Smoke,” an off-center abstract in various whites, looks more like a study than a final product.
That said, viewers of the many paintings in this show are sure to be pleased.
Linder’s watercolor paintings are interesting. “Me, Myself & I” features a dark-hued leafless tree behind which stand two less-well-defined trees. The roots of the tree in the foreground are all – surrealistically – visible. Her “Promises & Prayers” is a two-part matted watercolor-and-collage piece whose prominent colors are red, blue, and tan.
Upstairs, a number of Linder’s paintings have been cleverly hung to complement one another. A realistic watercolor called “Nabby Cove” hangs above an abstract piece in desert colors titled “On the Way to Santa Fe.” Similarly, nearby hangs another realistic Linder piece, “Camden Morning,” above another Linder abstract, a landscape painting called “Rangeley.”
Fans of realism will enjoy Rowan’s skilled paintings of vegetables, such as “Farmers Market II,” a 24-by-24-inch oil painting of what appear to be white radishes or turnips on a tile countertop, and “Radishes on Old Shelf,” featuring bright-red radishes with bright-green tops. Rowan’s playfully titled “Breathtaking” focuses on two bulbs of garlic. “Chilies and Garlic” features garlic bulbs and bright-red peppers. Rowan, who has a knack for painting with bright, popping red, also offers a lovely nonvegetable painting called “Betty,” of a small, bright-red boat tied to a white mooring ball.
The three-woman show at the Damariscotta River Grill runs through Tuesday, Jan. 24. The Damariscotta River Grill is located at 155 Main St., Damariscotta.