I am just back from my ‘working’ vacation in beautiful, if only slightly cooler, New England. Devoted readers will remember that I attended the opening night reception for Maine-ly Marco at The Gallery at Harmon’s & Barton’s in Portland, Maine. They’ll also know that Maine-ly Marco is an exhibition of nine Marco Island artists – a reciprocation for the highly successful Maine Fiber Artists exhibit held last January at the Marco Island Center for the Arts.
Both events were spearheaded by the lovely, and art-loving, Sandy Wallen – who, with husband Bill, divides the year twixt Marco Island and Freeport, Maine. One gets the impression that Ms. Wallen, who is neither practicing artist nor gallery owner, championed these exhibitions simply because they seemed like good ideas for both communities as well as for the artists. And I say “bless her heart.”
I toured many a gallery in the area, paying particular attention to paintings with similar motifs as those from Island artists:plenty of coastal imagery, some still-lifes, and a solid showing of abstracts (the old compare-and-contrast.) It bears noting that, in most cases the palettes were latitudes apart. Alongside the subtle and muted tones of their northern counterparts (think Winslow Homer and Andy Wyeth) the art from our Island leapt off the walls just drenched in saturated colors. (Evidently you can take the artist out of the tropics, but you can’t…well, you know.)
Intriguing, yes. Surprising, no. Climate and environment are very much a part of any work of art. The sounds, the aromas, the tastes, are as intrinsic as light and color. Oxford University offers an entire course of study differentiating Italian from northern European art of like periods. Fascinating stuff.
So, how is the work of Florida artists faring in fair Portland? Much like I’d expect a Florida alligator would: raising a few eyebrows, but still able to make a killing. It seems as though State O’ Maine has a taste forthe exotic.
Red dots popped up throughout the evening (gallery code for “sold”). Originally scheduled for the month of August, it was a mere half-week from opening when several of the artists were asked to continue on through September. Along with that inquiry came those magnificent words, “could more work be sent?”
The collective presentation of all the Island artists bespeaks the sophisticated level of talent that resides right here in this community.
Participating artists were Carolyn Burger, Cathy Demko, Betty Newman, Inez Hudson, Wanda Cody, Jo-Ann Sanborn, Sandi Johnson, Bonnie Coleman, and yours truly.
FOOTNOTE: Hoorahs to Island residents who appeared at the reception, a delightful surprise.
As always, I welcome your contributions, as an artist, about an artist, or about an arts venue.
Tara O’Neill, a lifelong artist, has been an area resident since 1967. She holds Bachelors Degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida, and currently has a studio-gallery at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade on Marco Island. Contact her through www.tarao gallery.com