James Rivington Pyne is a Mainer. Maybe not born and raised, but he certainly has done his time. He is a life-long summer resident who just couldn’t stay away. In 1983, he moved here permanently, and now is happy to call it home. There is just something about this state that captures a heart and soul and refuses to let go.
“Riv” feels the same way about the subject of many of his sculptures, birds. “I could be cynical enough to say my love of birds began when they started making money for me,” Pyne says with a smile. “But before that–in fact when I was 15 or so–I came to the realization that birds, even condors, turkeys, and vultures, are the most beautiful creatures on this earth.”
Pyne’s sculptures, especially his birds, have a unique and interesting feel, both literally and figuratively. The use of mixed media and composite gives a rough and real texture to the pieces he creates. The wings of his birds are life-like and natural, encouraging the admirer to reach out and touch them. “In the spring when the sap is running, I put split-in -half poplar logs into a vice, chisel a couple of inches into the wood, get my hand around the cut piece and rip it off the far end of the log. The results are bird wings, fish fins, and a number of other things,” explains Pyne. This technique is seen in the tail feathers of this Pair of Whimbrels.
Figuratively,his work captures a personality that may normally not come through in the physical characteristics of his subjects. “My work is stylized, but the subject is never unrecognizable,” says Pyne. “I find that the best way to express a bird’s edginess on a limb or briskness in flight is by rough, almost blurred outlines, similar to a sketch, rather than smooth finishes.” Even his bronze work has a texture that catches the eye and the imagination. The surface of the Bronze Greyhound has a dimension which not only captures his character, it makes him real.
Recently, Riv delivered a wonderful sculpture of a flock of Kingfishers. They are crafted with care and detail, and urge the viewer to move closer to take them all in. The title of this piece is Set of 8 Kingfishers. What makes it curious? There are only seven. “I’m assuming the eighth one is in flight,” says Natalie Lane, the gallery manager. Maybe that is what they are all looking at. This piece is only five inches tall, but they are perched on a platform that is almost two feet wide. There is a window sill out there that is just perfect for this work.
Pyne has been a part of Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture since 2012, and we have quite an extensive collection of his work. This new work has such personality and charm, it truly is meant to be seen in person. Of course, his work is also available to view online by visiting his Artist Page.
To read more blogs about Pyne and his work with Maine Art Click Here.
When someone asks of art in Maine, the mind goes to seascapes and fishing boats; classic Maine scenes captured in oil, acrylic or watercolor hung on walls in memory of a time and place lest we forget the beauty. Yet, when walking into Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture, one quickly realizes it is more than just one-dimensional. Here, among the canvases, is sculpture.
Sculpture, by definition, is the art of making two- or three-dimensional representative or abstract forms, especially by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster. Though Webster says this in the most succinct way, it lacks the passion and awe that sculpture evokes. Helen Keller held the key to the best way to experience sculpture. “I sometimes wonder if the hand is not more sensitive to the beauties of sculpture than the eye. I should think the wonderful rhythmical flow of lines and curves could be more subtly felt than seen,” she said. Great sculpture draws the hand as well as the eye. Our fingers lift and twitch with the overwhelming desire to touch it.
When viewing James Rivington Pyne’s Diver, this need is very real. If tracing a finger from the tip of her toes to the end of her fingers, the impression of diving into the cool water of summer time is present. The smooth lines and deep colors of this piece hold the sense of water gliding over skin and blocks out everything else. There is an understanding of the sculpture. You have been there.
Elizabeth Ostrander agrees. “Both gentleness and strength inhabit my sculptures. Their quiet joy is a ‘hooray’ for life. It can be a reminder that we can all meet in that wisdom place. And sculpture also invites touch and the soothing experience of graceful shape and the nuance of texture,” says Ostrander. Her sculptures, while still using human form, find a mingling of nature and man, or more often, woman. In her piece, Trust, Elizabeth captures that connection with nature. The smoothness of her skin and softness of her closed eyes begs for a touch which connects the viewer to the art.
Though Webster’s definition indicates a casting or carving, which both Pyne and Ostrander do so well, modern art has discovered a repurposing or redesigning of materials to convert the normal and familiar into the beautiful. Patrick Plourde does this well. His work still demands the viewer to engage, to reach out, but the emotion is different. Spigot Flowers is one of these pieces. The repurposing of the water spigots in this piece immediately brings memories of summertime sprinklers. You know the metal is cool to the touch as it pulls a knowing smile full of old friends and family gatherings. Plourde collects such items and blends them flawlessly into his work.
These are the sculptures of Maine. Maine art and Maine memories. We welcome you to come in, visit, and see for yourself the beauty of Maine in three-dimension. You will find us at 14 Western Avenue in Kennebunk. Check for our website for winter hours. www.maine-art.com.
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As you first walk into Maine Art Shows at 10 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk, a curious little sculpture, of what at first glance is a seagull swooping in to grab his lunch, is there to greet you. However, after a closer look, something is just a little different; a little smaller, a little more unique about this particular bird.
This sculpture is actually of a tern, not a seagull. To many of us the two are almost indistinguishable, but not for James Rivington Pyne. “The seagull, in its varieties, is, of course, the archetypical bird of coastal Maine. Yet, I have always thought its smaller cousin, the tern, to be more interesting; more beautiful, elegant and graceful with its backstroked wings,” says Pyne. “What’s more, terns make far less noise.” This one in particular makes no noise at all.
“The tern I have submitted for this show is larger than the terns one sees over the water, and more threatening,” says James. “I wanted her to be this way because, despite her actual size, she is every bit as capable of feeding and protecting her young as any other seabird, be it osprey or gull.” She definitely holds her own among the dozens of birds in the show. Tern brings a little touch of Maine with her and would be perfect inside or on a covered patio.
Pyne is one of six artists in the show BIRD. He has a few other pieces on display at Maine Art Shows, as well as a collection of work at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture down the hill on 14 Western Ave. We welcome you to visit both galleries, either in person or on-line at BIRD or Pyne’s Artist Page.
BIRD runs until September 7th. Maine Art Shows is open from 11-5 every day.
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James Rivington Pyne by Ric Kasini Kadour
Sandpipers, terns, green longtails, pelicans, crows, and many other birds make up the volary of James Rivington Pyne’s sculpture. This self-taught artist is known for an attentiveness that captures the subtle gestures, stance, or temperament of his avian subjects while preserving and honoring the natural quirkiness of birds. His Stilt Sandpiper teeters on its long legs; Tern goofily flocks; and White Speckled Bird, Wings Up struts his pretty wings and long beak.
“I try to capture, in birds for instance, either the subject’s extreme stillness (a heron fishing) or its opposite,” said Pyne. “I find the best way to express a bird’s edginess on a limb or briskness in flight is by rough, almost blurred outlines, similar to a sketch, rather than smooth finishes.”
After a career teaching English in the Philadelphia public school system, Pyne turned summertime residency in Maine into a full-time home. He began making sculpture out of driftwood and graduated to epoxies, plaster, casting stone, wood and bronze. His composite sculptures demonstrate a deep understanding of modeling, building, and craft.
“My work is stylized but the subject is never unrecognizable. A source of inspiration for me are the 18th Century animal miscellanies depicting creatures drawn by artists whose sole knowledge of their subjects came, not from actual sighting but from hearsay, folklore, and in some cases a desire to amuse or terrify.”
James has several pieces in the show BIRD, as well as a wonderful collection at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture at 14 Western Avenue in Kennebunk. You can see it in person or on-line on his Artist Page.
BIRD will be at Maine Art Shows until September 7th. Come visit any day from 11-5 or view the entire show on-line at BIRD.
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