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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Local Art

The best way to experience art, of course, is to see the real thing--to stand in front of the original and see the texture and color and line the way the artist put it on the canvas or created it out of fabric or stone or wood. Getting regular doses of original art can be a challenge for those of us who live in the less urbanized parts of the country and so I decided to take advantage of the opening of a show in the surprisingly impressive gallery at Penn College in Williamsport (about an hour from where I live) a couple of weeks ago.  The art of Virginia Bradley and Chris Malcomson from Philadelphia was on display, two very different artists who happen to be married to each other.

Malcomson works on huge squarish canvasses taller than I am. He does a lot of underpainting (a technique that could be akin to overdyeing?) so that when he is finished his paintings glow with color. In his talk he spoke of his love of Rothko and other painters who suggest thresholds in their paintings, inviting us to go through the painted surface.

"Reaching" is one of the pieces he showed us and my image of it is from the publicity for the show.


He said his goal was to "paint stuff that was trying to add something to people's lives," and he said it in his British accent so it became even more significant.  "As life gets busier, art should go slower" so it becomes a place "where people can stop and go inside themselves and then go anywhere they want." His paintings certainly slowed me down as I stood in front of them and soaked in the strong blues and reds with hints of many other colors breaking through.

Bradley establishes a dialogue with the images in her work and there is much activity in her pieces. She layers prints over a variety of backgrounds and then adds layers of paint and other media over them.
She created one very interesting layer by pouring molten pewter over a print of girls in classical Rome and then carving into it to create even more texture. Her fearless experimentation was infectious.

I came away thinking about art and its meaning and purpose as well as color and texture and experimentation--all making the trip worthwhile. The show is at Penn College until Dec. 11.

And if you are still with me, thanks for the company!



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