The work of Bristol pastel artist and oil painter Kathleen Galligan has been gracing the walls of both floors of Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Damariscotta for well over a month. Her “Intersections II” exhibit will run through the end of August. Those who have not had the opportunity to see this collection of Galligan’s masterful work really ought to view it before it is taken down.
For one thing – and it is an important thing – Galligan’s exceptional work is best enjoyed live, in the room, similar to the way live music has more power to move one than recorded music. Photographs of her pieces simply cannot do them justice; the subtlety of her work is best appreciated up close, in person.
“Taken By the Light,” a large pastel-on-paper landscape on the bottom floor of the Sotheby’s space, is an almost ethereal piece depicting several evergreen trees on a hillside with what appear to be large steps ascending it. It is not so much the objects on the landscape that catch the viewer’s attention, however. It is the delicate, glowing yellow light that Galligan has used to coat the hillside, making perfect sense of the piece’s title.
Galligan, who was recently honored by being included in the French book “40 Maitres du Pastel” (“40 Masters of Pastel”), is a master of depicting light and dark in both her pastels and her oil paintings. She tends to delve into darker pieces when she uses oil paint and creates lighter pieces when she uses pastels. Her mixed media pieces, of which there are several in the “Intersections II” show, also tend to be on the light side.
“Pemaquid Nocturne,” a pastel-on-paper landscape piece, is notable for the way she has created almost magical-looking specks of light depicting house lights. One has difficulty determining if they are created by the application of pastels or by letting the color of the paper show through the layers of her meticulous work. Galligan is exceedingly talented at layering soul-soothing textures and colors, and what appear to be flecks of light at a difficult-to-determine layer of her work.
Galligan goes dark in her oils “Summer Stars #1,” “Summer Stars #2,” “Ballast,” and “Ledge.” The first two are intriguing nighttime landscapes on wood panel, and the latter two are small abstract pieces in dark blue, green, and gray.
Galligan moves easily and masterfully from realistic landscape work to abstract work, including her mixed media pieces. “StarGazing” is a mixed media piece in washed gray and gold leaf – and a clear, shiny material attached in small pieces – that conjures up the gleam and layering of the mica that Maine is known for. For this piece, Galligan dove right into the rocky landscape and came up with a section of it, to the viewer’s delight.
“When you look at Kathleen Galligan’s work for a while it becomes clear why she uses dry pastel, a medium that is pretty rare these days. It’s difficult to use, has a particular feel, and is dusty to work with,” said artist and art critic Ken Greenleaf in “Studies in Quiet: The Pastel Landscapes of Kathleen Galligan,” a book accompanying the “Intersections II” show. “She gets around the difficulty with discipline and the dustiness with a special device that cleans the air between the easel and artist. The special feel the pastels give the work is at the core of how Galligan sees things. … She is telling a quiet tale with her own special skills, and giving us the opportunity to share it.”
Galligan is indeed telling a quiet tale with all of her work, which lovers of really fine art should be very happy to hear.
Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, located at 170 Main St. in Damariscotta, is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Intersections II” remains on exhibit through the month of August, and may be also viewed during the hours of 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, during the Damariscotta-Newcastle ArtWalk. Learn more about Galligan at kathleengalligan.com.