Monday, October 8, 2018

Painter's Poetry

Monet has opened at The Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, New York

You may wonder what else can be said and written about Monet that hasn't been published - so I will add my thoughts on this Impressionist in my next post - because the show that has just opened at The Memorial Art Gallery and should not be missed if you have ever been interested in the fine art of painting.

Both of my parents were artists and introduced me to painting at a very young age, and I literally have been seeing and thinking about art from childhood on.  I am also a reader and writer and poetry has attracted my attention over the years as well.  The ability of poetry to stimulate the imagination, to reach for meaning in the composition of words and phrases finds a parallel universe in the application of paint on canvas in the hands of a gifted artist.  Not every visual artist reaches for the impact and open questions often posed by the poetic practitioner.  We are fortunate at this moment to have an opportunity to assess the strength of painting in shows that stress the poetic temperament.

Bradley Butler - new paintings at
Mercer Gallery
Monroe Community College

In the Mercer Gallery, on the campus of Monroe Community College this past week, I went to see the paintings of Bradley Butler who is currently the Director of the Main Street Arts Gallery in Clifton Springs, New York.  Brad was also a student a fews years ago in the School of Art at Rochester Institute of Technology where he earned his Master's Degree.  In this new show, Brad extends his interest in painting with an invitation to his audience to join him on a path through some dreamy mountains.  Maybe it is the hour before sunrise, everything is quiet, and you are certainly alone.  The tonality of the paintings in his show pose a question: "What Isn't Real and What Is?"

"What Isn't Real and What Is?"
Bradley Butler

The poet painter approaches a path that winds around and seemingly disappears up ahead.  We contemplate the future and look for signs.  The weather is dark and moody, and the action of the artist's gaze only penetrates so far...doomed to return to the start again and again.  Color for this painter is kept at a minimum; maybe some bluish grey.  Up ahead in Brad's compositions are mountains - not necessarily the Romantic ones illustrated by Albert Bierstadt, but ones that could have come about by considering Mark Rothko.  The painter needs to explore, go on a journey, but does he dare go off the path?  If so - what would that look like?

New Paintings by Bradley Butler
October 4 - November 1, 2018
Mercer Gallery, MCC

The next evening, we drive over to The Village Gallery in Caledonia, New York for the opening of a show of artwork on view by Gillian Pederson-Krag.  I have known Gillian's work for years - since  I was a student getting my Master's Degree in painting at Cornell University - and Gillian was teaching there at the time.  Back then she painted the still life and landscape and today - 43 years later she is still at it.

Gillian Pederson-Krag
The Village Gallery, Caledonia, New York

Gillian's poetic stance is translated through her choice of colors, and the touch of her brush which often has a dreamy look to it but very different than Brad Butler's.  Brad Butler takes you along his mind's pathways, and in Gillian's art she is more of a realist and reflects on what things looked like.
Her's is a perceptual approach to a poetry of painting, and as you look around her show you see that things recur in many of her prints and paintings in this current selection.

California Coast by Gillian Pederson-Krag

In her show there are beaches in California, there are also streams from upstate New York.  The presence of a goldish color in her work - and her color selections in general seem to respond to the passage of time.  It makes me think of looking through picture albums of the past - there is a nostalgia for lack of a better term in these modestly sized paintings.  

Still life by Gillian Pederson-Krag

Gillian Pederson-Krag seems quite prolific and her art always has such consistency - whether it is a painting or an etching.  My brother, Paul, was visiting and bought one of her prints on opening night.  The prices for these paintings are rather modest too, considering the amount of time she must invest in them.  So, if you are looking for a wonderful art experience, drive over to Caledonia and look for the Village Gallery.  Gillian is real master, and you won't forget this poet of painting.

Gillian Pederson-Krag's  Umbria
oil on canvas