A Peek Inside – Ellen Granter talks about BIRD

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When it came to curating the show BIRD, artist Ellen Welch Granter was an obvious choice.  Her work was meant to be featured on the walls of Maine Art Shows, surrounded by other artists with the same adoration for birds.  “As a group, I think this work will create an environment that transports a viewer to the shallow water at the beach,” say Granter. They, the birds, are so much a part of the coastline here in Maine; it is a wonderful way to remind the locals and the tourists alike how integral they are to our landscape and charm.

Ellen Welch Granter has an affection for birds.  They appear frequently in her work, and when first walking into Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture, she and her birds are easily recognizable. Another distinctive trait for Granter is the characteristic gold leaf found in her work. Be it a wire her birds are perched upon as in Every Fifth, a puddle they are watering in as in Wild, or the shimmering moon in Robin Moon No.2, this gold leaf brings a touch of beauty to each of her pieces that feature these winged wonders. “The long legs of the sandpipers make an interesting calligraphic pattern, especially over the brightness of the gold leaf and the color field behind them all.”

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Ellen’s connection to her work becomes even more obvious as she explains her choices for this particular show. “These paintings are iterations of three themes I have been working on, sandpipers, egrets, and the lowly house sparrow. They congregate, then move apart, and reform a flock, so the shape of the group, as well as the spaces between them, are always changing.”  With a varied collection such as hers, the motion she speaks of is felt as the visitor moves through the gallery from one piece to the next.  There is a fluidity. It is natural and elegant and graceful.

The show BIRD runs until September 7th and will be open everyday from 11-5 at Maine Art Shows in Kennebunk. Please come by and see Ellen Welch Granter’s work for yourself, as well as the additional five artists showcased. If you cannot make it in, visit the collection on-line at BIRD.  Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture also boasts a large collection of Granter’s work and is only a few steps away down at 14 Western Avenue in Kennebunk. Again, you can also view all of Granter’s work on her Artist Page.

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End of Summer Celebration

Thirteen people gathered around a table at Academe at the Kennebunk Inn. Our ages ranged from twenty-two to sixty-two; men and women, teachers, real estate agents and grandparents. So what on earth did we have in common? Maine Art. Part-time, full-time, seasonal and year-round, the staff at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture came together to mark the approaching end of  yet another summer season. We all had a part in Maine Art’s success this summer, and John wanted to take the evening to say “thank-you.” The table was full of laughter, conversation and fun.  Everyday we celebrate our customers.  Everyday we celebrate our artists. Tuesday night, we took the night off and celebrated us.

 

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Patrick Plourde in BIRD – A Maine Art Show

Patrick Plourde by Ric Kasini Kadour

Patrick Plourde studied art at the Maine College of Art and received his Masters of Fine Art from Washington University. For over twenty-five years, he has used vintage steel and found objects to express natural forms: various plants, flowers, seeds, and birds. His sculptures play with form, color, and humor to engage the viewer. Plourde converts everyday objects, like croquet balls, into sculptural elements that evoke classical forms and industry. In his depictions of birds, there is also an element of drawing, using the metal to make the lines of a heron’s back in a manner that resembles the bird’s plumage.

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Joan Miró once explained the success of his sculpture, “A rich and vigorous material seems necessary to me in order to give the viewer that smack in the face that must happen before reflection intervenes. In this way, poetry is expressed through a plastic medium, and it speaks its own language.” Plourde’s sculptures achieve success in a similar way. The various pieces of steel and other found parts come together to form a Vulture. What was once a tool or a spoke or a gear, becomes a neck, a talon, or tightly held pair of wings.

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His work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Log Home Designs, and Maine Home and Design. Collectors include Ralph Lauren, Robert De Niro, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Toucan Corporation (Florida), The Portland (Maine) Museum of Art, and Payson Art Gallery (Maine). He has completed a number of public and private commissions, including Untitled-Armillary, on Commercial Street in Portland, Maine near the Casco Bay Ferry terminal.

BIRD shows at Maine Art Shows at 10 Chase Hill from August 8th to September 7th.  We are open from 11-5 every day.  You can also see the show in its entirety on-line at BIRD.

If you like Patrick’s work, Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture has a lovely collection in the gallery on 14 Western Ave in Kennebunk and on-line on his Artist Page.

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Abbie Williams in BIRD – A Maine Art Show

Abbie Williams by Ric Kasini Kadour

Abbie Williams paints from her studio in a lush wood in Nobleboro, Maine and regularly from Monhegan Island, Maine and Taos, New Mexico. Her subject is often the rich landscapes she finds “while painting outdoors, painting in my studio or while I’m prowling around Maine’s uncommonly visited corners with my camera.”

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The appearance of birds in Williams’ paintings is a natural extension of her approach to painting. In works like Moody’s Barn and Seagull Cyclone II, they are as much a part of the landscape as the yellow fields or boulders on the shoreline. She renders the birds in Seagull Cyclone II as a blur of white, allowing details to take shape as individual birds break away from the flock. When birds are her subject, like in Goose Taking a Gander and Black Jack Flagg and His Gang, Williams paints with the same attentiveness she gives to flowers in a field. She paints the back feathers of the subject of Goose Taking a Gander as a patchwork of light brown and white stripes and the bird’s reflection in the stream as a dreamy collection of lines. “Using rich color and employing the dramatic light of the coast and the high desert, I work to capture the extraordinary way the light changes moment to moment which infuses my response to the colors that are often too subtle for the casual observer,” said Williams.

One can see this color work in the painting, Small Cove, Maine, which shows a gull perched on a dinghy moored in a cove. A wall of rock forms the backdrop of the scene. A round pink buoy floats in the water. The buoy’s reflection begins an expanse of wild color play: pinks trickle out from the buoy, glitters of orange catch the tips of ripples in the water as a strip of brilliant sunlight illuminates the rock. The lonely bird quietly takes in the moment.

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Please visit the show BIRD at our gallery at 10 Chase Hill Rd. in Kennebunk or on-line at BIRD. Abbie’s Artist Pagehas our entire collection of her work.

Ellen Welch Granter in BIRD – A Maine Art Show

Ellen Welch Granter, by Ric Kasini Kadour

Ellen Welch Granter’s paintings, on the surface, read as straightforward, representational renderings of birds, but on closer inspection, they are deeply poetic paintings.

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Granter studied Chinese in Hong Kong and Beijing and earned a Master’s degree in Chinese History from the University of Vermont in 1988. A number of Granter’s compositions are reminiscent of 12th century Chinese Emperor Huizong, whose suprarealistic style portrayed bird movements in a manner that privileged the rendering of their spirit over their literal representation. The British Museum writes, “Huizong saw his paintings as the representation of a perfect and harmonious world. His careful rendering of each element and skillful balance of form and void are characteristics which influenced the academic style of the Song dynasty.” Granter takes a similar approach. The sandpipers in Beginning perch, poke, and prance around an ethereal shore that is rendered as a glossy pool of blues and stripes of shiny gold. This compositional play keeps her paintings fresh and the focus on the gestural movements of the birds.

“To brush dabs of oil on a surface, in a human effort to capture the sublime, is a challenge that has made me hyper-aware of the textures, shapes, and patterns of daily life,” writes Granter. “I believe that a beautiful painting is both a gift of vision and a testament of appreciation for our short lives here on this beautiful Earth.”

In a few paintings, Granter employs a different approach. In Edge, three sandpipers peck the sand for food. A gentle landscape rises in the top of the painting. A few paintings experiment with solid blocks of color. “I am searching for an elegant balance of spare compositions over large fields of luminous color,” wrote Granter. The white birds in Random highlight and bring to life the Rothkoesque red background. Every Fifth is a playful painting in which a series of chickadees occupy the bar of gold leaf that breaks up the blue field. The title refers to the fact that Granter portrays the chickadees from every possible viewpoint. Granter’s paintings show us a romance between the birds and the artist, how she invites them into her paintings, and how they are beautiful.

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The entire show, BIRD, can be seen at 10 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk at the Maine Art Shows Gallery. You can also visit on-line at BIRD. To see Maine Art Painting and Sculpture’s complete collection of Ellen Granter’s work, click on her Artist Page or visit us at 14 Western Ave, Kennebunk, Maine.

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Everybody Likes Birds, by Ric Kasini Kadour

Last year marked two important anniversaries related to birds. A hundred years have passed since the passenger pigeon, that once was so numerous flocks of them blackened American skies for days, became extinct. Fifty years have passed since Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act of 1964 into law. In addition to protecting over 110 million acres of land, over the years, the law has made sure birds had places to nest and breed. The law is one of the reasons many of the birds featured in this catalog did not go the way of the passenger pigeon, why they are still around today for us to enjoy and for these artists to observe.

The British naturalist David Attenborough remarked, “Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”

From the Ba-Birds of ancient Egyptian art to the totem poles and prints of the Kwakwaka’wakw in the Pacific Northwest, the bird in art has always been a powerful, transformative image. When mankind first started making art, he drew birds on the walls of caves. For much of art history, artists used birds as spiritual symbols in religious painting. The only people painting birds as birds were ornithologists like John James Audubon or Alexander Wilson, whose paintings served a scientific purpose and weren’t treated as fine art until well after their deaths, when notions of art broadened. With the advent of Modernism, the image of the bird continued to be a rich subject for artists.

The six artists featured in this catalog feature birds in a variety of different ways. The realism of Ellen Welch Granter’s depictions of birds is counterbalanced by her sensitive compositions which are themselves evocative of 12th century Chinese paintings. Elizabeth Ostrander uses birds to express a mystical fantasy world in ceramic and acrylic sculptures that serve as tools for truth seeking and personal reflection. The appearance of birds in Abbie Williams’ paintings is a natural extension of her approach to landscape painting. She gives them the same loving attention she would flowers in a field or a tree in the distance. Patrick Plourde uses vintage steel, found objects, and over twenty-five years of experience manipulating these materials to make sculptures of ducks, vultures, and herons. David Witbeck paints with the wit and eye of a freelance photographer and often uses birds as part of a constellation of elements that makes a composition tell a story. James Rivington Pyne’s sculptures show an attentiveness to the nobility and sometimes quirkiness of sandpipers, terns, green longtails, pelicans, and crows.

All of these artists have in common a love of birds. Their keen observations of them help give their paintings and sculpture a veracity that ultimately allows us share in their affections. Everyone likes birds, indeed.

Click BIRDS to see the on-line show, or come and visit at Kennebunk Art Shows starting Saturday August 8th.  The show will run until September 7th.

Ric Kasini Kadour is a writer and artist from Montreal, Quebec. He is a frequent contributor to Art New England.

BIRD Starts Tomorrow – August 8th – September 7th

On the first floor of 10 Chase Hill Road, Maine Art Shows is receiving its last makeover of the summer.  All the pieces from the previous show, Maine. As they see it., are being taken down and shipped off to their new owners, wires are being tightened or restrung, and sculptures and paintings for the next show are being placed and hung. Tomorrow is August 8th, and the last show of the season opens; BIRD. For this final show, six artists – three sculptors and three painters – have come together to celebrate these winged creatures.

Half expecting to hear bird songs, you enter the door to Maine Art Shows and are greeted by color and depth, beauty and whimsy, grace and tranquility.  This show not only has a theme, it has a feeling. Happy. It’s that simple. It is impossible not to smile while wandering from room to room and discovering the differences and similarities between each of these artists and their representation of the birds they love.

Come in and visit the paintings of Ellen Welch Granter, Abbie Williams and David Witbeck, and spend time with the sculptures of Elizabeth Ostrander, Patrick Plourde and James Rivington Pyne.  Each artist captures the heart and soul of the bird in a way that is classic and true to their own personalities and artistic styles.  From the serene and quiet beauty of Ellen Welch Granter to the humor and fun characters of David Witbeck, and so much in between, every viewer will find something to connect with.

The show opens on Saturday, August 8th and runs until Labor Day, September 7th.  On Saturday, August 8th, the gallery will be open during it’s regular hours of 11-5, but will remain open until 7 p.m. with an open house to welcome any and all bird lovers and art collectors in the area. Come and enjoy a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres and enter into this wonderful new show, BIRD.

If you will not be able to make it to Kennebunk to view the show in person, please check out our on-line show. BIRDS.  The Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture website can put you in touch with someone that can help you, as well as show you other works by all these wonderful artists.

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James Rivington Pyne in BIRD – A Maine Art Show

James Rivington Pyne by Ric Kasini Kadour

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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.

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“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.

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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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Elizabeth Ostrander in BIRD – A Maine Art Show

Elizabeth Ostrander by Ric Kasini Kadour

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In her ceramic and acrylic sculptures, Elizabeth Ostrander expresses a mystical fantasy world. She uses her sculptures to express ideas of self-agency and selfhood. She embeds these ideas in a mythology that is loosely informed by Paleolithic imagery and an assortment of fables and stories from long gone civilizations. The results are timeless sculptures that are magical, cosmic and earthy.

The Spanish influence in her work comes from her studies with Jose de Creeft at The Art Students League of New York in the 1960s. As a child, the Spanish-born de Creeft sculpted religious figures in clay to sell at the Festival of Santa Lucia in Barcelona. After a career in Europe, in 1929 he emigrated to the United States where he pioneered direct carving and became a master of figural works of women. Ostrander continues his legacy.

Crow Totem is a testament to Ostrander’s ability to create powerful symbols. The two-foot-tall inverted cone sculpture features the head of a crow. Its wingless, legless body is marked and scratched in a manner that conveys a sense of timelessness. Her sculptures lend themselves to a kind of fabulism. Trust is the bust of a woman. She rests her head towards the bird on her shoulder. In her chest, another bird sits on a nest. Ostrander draws a connection between the woman’s outward communication with the bird on her shoulder and the feelings one has, as expressed by the bird and nest occupying the space where her heart is. The use of bird as a metaphor repeats itself in Gentle, where a bird rests in the palm of an outstretched hand. These elements or strategies come together in Shiny Heart Cache, where a totemic crow is revealed to have a heart surrounded by nest-like string. Ostrander’s sculptures, while narrative in appearance, are designed to be pondered, to be used as tools for truth seeking and personal reflection.

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If you would like to see more of Elizabeth’s work, we welcome you to visit Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture at 14 Western Avenue in Kennebunk, or online at her Artist Page.

BIRD will run at Maine Art Shows, 10 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk for four weeks. From August 8th – September 7th.

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David Witbeck in BIRD – A Maine Art Show

David Witbeck  by Ric Kasini Kadour

 

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The gull perched on the bollard in David Witbeck’s Harbor Gulls is watching you. They are fighting over chum in Free Lunch. And one is calling out to the sunrise in Morning Gulls. When they are not the subject, Witbeck uses birds in his paintings as a call to action, a source of drama, and sometimes a point of humor. David Witbeck studied art at the Pratt Institute and the Rhode Island School of Design, and photojournalism at Rochester Institute of Technology. He worked as a freelance photographer for over twenty-five years. He took up painting in 2000 and has steadily exhibited his work across New England.

Witbeck paints with the wit and eye of a freelance photographer always on the lookout for the perfect constellation of elements that will make a composition tell a story. Often the birds in his paintings obscure and temper the scenes around them. This allows the viewer to parse the painting in a different way. For example, the prominence of the birds in Morning Gulls distracts the viewer from the fact that the painting is a landscape, a simple rendition of the sun rising over an island out in the water. The quieter of the two birds stares at the viewer, almost daring you to notice what is going on. Look closely at Free Lunch and you will see that the fisherman is sacrificing his chum to distract the birds from the large lobster he holds in his hand. By contrast, when birds are the only subject, Witbeck portrays them with humility, as in the simple rendering of gulls in Conspirators, or with nobility, as in his paintings of cormorants where he shows the birds perching, wings spread, nodding to the heavens.

Click on David’s Artist Page to see Maine Art Painting and Sculpture’s entire Witbeck collection or visit us at 14 Western Ave. Kennebunk, Maine.

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