Process art at Shapers: Lil Garcia over at Shapers Fitness Gym in Damariscotta gave me a call the other day to tell me about the new art on the walls of the inviting little gym on School Street. Eight of Lise Aubry’s abstract pieces line the walls of the gym, giving gym-goers something colorful and intriguing to look at as they break a sweat on the treadmill or the elliptical trainer.
Aubry, as her artist statement points out, does “process painting,” something she learned from local artist Brady Nickerson 18 years ago.
“Process art helps one discover their deeper creativity and imagination through the use of color and design,” Aubry writes. “It is a process that facilitates the enhancement of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The process teaches reliance on intuition as your guide.”
Nickerson, who teaches process painting classes called “Painting with Spirit,” says in her brochure that the class “encourages one to paint from process rather than product or end result without criticism or judgment. Through this process, we ignite confidence in ourselves to face everyday challenges.” It is a different way of approaching art-making and one that certainly seems to be a stress reliever as opposed to a stress creator, as some art-making can be in the search for perfection.
As Aubry put it, “This process helps to quiet anxiety, relieve stress, and increases self-awareness for surprising transformations.”
Aubry’s pieces sell for $75 each, with all the proceeds going to the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder Restoration Fund.
Nickerson can reached at 633-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Petan’s neck of the woods: Bremen artist and former longtime Chicagoan Michael Blaze Petan has a show of his large, fantastic, colorful Maine-centric paintings titled “My Neck of the Woods” currently up in the West Gallery of River Arts in Damariscotta. I had the rollicking pleasure of sitting down with the talkative, exuberant Petan on Wednesday, June 28, his 59th birthday, at the gallery to talk art, artists, and rural Maine in all its multifaceted glory.
Petan said he starts with composition in the creation of his “lowbrow” paintings, as he describes his work. “I start with composition, and I can skew it on Photoshop,” he said. After he has decided what to include on one of his canvases and where, he goes in with brushes, pens, markers, neon paint – whatever he deems necessary to help get his point and his mood across. In “Behind Closed Doors,” for instance, a painting featuring a green ice-fishing shack, a barbecue, and the silhouette of a hunter wielding a rifle, Petan chose to color in the waving American flag with Sharpies, giving the flag a different, more fragile feel than the rest of the painting.
Petan said he is a huge fan of neo-expressionist painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, and quirky, creative film directors David Lynch and Wes Anderson. He also loves the work of Vincent Van Gogh and recalled being obsessed with a painting of Van Gogh’s at The Art Institute of Chicago inspired by his time in a French insane asylum, featuring red paint dripping off the bed pictured in the piece. “I used to touch it every day when no one was looking,” said Petan of the painting.
Petan is an intense, funny, brilliant, and thoroughly likable man whose paintings can be described in the same way. He clearly loves what he does (“Painting is, like, really cool,” he told me, completely in earnest) and his enthusiasm is infectious, both in his conversation and in his art.
Petan’s show runs through Wednesday, July 12. Don’t miss it.
River Arts is located at 241 Route 1, Damariscotta. Go to riverartsme.org for more information.
(Email me at email@example.com or write me a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543. I love to hear from readers.)