Friday, October 21, 2011

REVIEW: Watercolor Exhibit at Chandler Gallery in Randolph

WET: Washes, Energy & Technique at Chandler Gallery

by Dian Parker

Chandler Gallery’s current juried exhibition is a showing of watercolor paintings, all by members of the Vermont Watercolor Society. The society was founded by a small group of painters in 1995 and today there are over 200 members. The Vermont Watercolor Society’s mission is to promote the awareness and appreciation of watercolor to the membership of all levels of ability and to the community by providing opportunities and venues for participation, education, fellowship, and exhibitions.

An entire exhibit of watercolors can be problematic, especially with the title of show being WET, which didn’t exactly lure me to see the show. Watercolor demands a sure hand, otherwise the medium can come across as insipid and weak; airy pastels, dripping washes of sky and field, hints of a scene or a figure not well defined. Fortunately Chandler Gallery has chosen some strong watercolors that express bold statements; well done and arresting.

One of my favorites is Moonglow by Cheryl Johnson. The yellow glow of the moon is reflected in a pool of dense cobalt blue. The painting’s rich color rings on the wall. Another wonderful painting is by Jane Harissis, titled Grande Marche. It is a delightful composition of an old French food market with orange and red fruits arranged on a stand, under hanging lights that cast down a golden glow. Windows ensconced in iron grillwork give the painting its expanse. The colors are exciting.

One of the most detailed paintings is by Harold Aksdal. In Willow in the Harbor Aksdal uses pen and ink with subtle washes of color to create intricate details. The combination works well; the grand, fallen willow lies in the water, still alive, still vibrant. Wise One, by Jeanne Maquire Thieme, is of an old cherry or apple tree with its delicate pink blossoms shimmering, drawing the eye across the painting.

Painted Bush by Rebecca Gottesman is a riot of red, blue and yellow density, the light shining through a labyrinth of leaves. Two snow scenes are lovely: Maurie Harrington’s Glades, with skiers swinging out of the forest, the trees laden with wet snow, and Gene Parent’s Snow Season with a lone figure in a pink wash of sunset.

One of the few abstracts in the show is Rocky Shore by Marni McKintrick. She uses blocks of color stroked with feathered edges that looks almost Japanese. Inn at Shelburne Farms by Claudia Carl with its ochre buildings and turquoise roofs is striking. The shadows of the tree branches across the buildings is a lovely touch.

The show runs until November 12.

Images: Moonglow, Cheryl Johnson, watercolor
Grande Marche
, Jane Harissis, watercolor, 14 x 10

This review was first published in the Herald, Randolph on October 20, 2011