Gallery

Gail Watkins, Color Canyon (2016)

Written by Janice F. Booth

Gail Hillow Watkins’s newest series of mixed media paintings, “Strata,” explores movement in simple, almost primitive terms.  The artist applies the technique she has been exploring for a decade,  layering and incising paint, paper, and various other material, but her focus now is on a narrative of motion, not a static uncovering, as in the 2013 series “Comics & Chromosomes.”  In some of these new works, simple forms leap and gyrate across the canvas bathed in color bands. The strata, seen together, become an undulating whole -- a dance troupe or a junkanoo parade.

With these new paintings, the viewer stands, a rapt observer, as the sands shift, light shimmers, and a curious sense of movement and motion begins. Since the lines of movement are contained in color bands, the dancing lines and the movement they suggest read like a choreographer’s notations.

Watkins’s kinetic forms evoke Henri Matisse’s work. Consider Matisse’s sinuous paintings, “Dance II,”  (1909-10) and  “The Dance” (1932-33).  In the earlier work, lines interconnect to create a sense of motion; colors, rich and deep, bathe the dancers in blue and coral. After twenty years of seeing and simplifying line and form, Matisse had eliminated all but the beauty of shapes against color to convey fluid motion.

 

Henri Matisse, Dance II  (1909-10) and  The Dance (1932-33)

Some of the works in “Strata” have a Caribbean flavor, perhaps inspired by Watkins’s travels in Cuba. Titles reflect Watkins’s Cuban memories -- “The Pink House,” “Malecon,” and “The Gate.” 

Inspiration for “The Pink House,” 2014, was the ubiquitous, tabby shell, stucco houses embedded with coquina shells seen everywhere in southern Florida and the Caribbean Islands. In this painting, bands of auburn, amaranth and cerise and carnelian reds, etched with shapes, bustle and tumble through and between the color bands, like figures in an apartment building, each with its own story and vitality. The colors and motion are playful rather than chaotic.

  

                                           Gail Watkins,  Malecon (2016)                            Gail Watkins,  Enlargement from Pink House (2014)

 

“Malecon,” 2016, seems a subtle rainbow of blues, pink, and bronze cascading down the canvas.  A lingering gaze rewards the viewer -- curving, arcing, reaching figures emerge from the bands of color, appearing as though from behind a curtain or from beneath the sea. In reality, the Malecon is an elegant esplanade in Havana with the sea’s tidal rhythms on one side, the ebb and flow of pedestrians and vehicles along the avenue.  The indigo and Turkish blue bands along the bottom of the painting suggest the Caribbean Sea, while along the top of the canvas striae incised into the blue band suggest Havana’s decorative grillwork against the blue sky.

Gail Watkins, The Gate (2016)

As we stand before the painting “The Gate,” 2016, we see a square of deep auburn banded with cornflower blue. The work is tranquil, a gate unused. “I saw a rusty gate at the entrance to a Havana Garden. It stuck with me – that lovely rust, the wild garden behind the gate, and always the sea and sky,”

Watkins revisits that sense of discovery from her “Chromosomes…” series with “Genome Fresco,” 2016.  But what is uncovered in this painting records not lost life-forms, but instead, some grand, civic event. Celebrants, dancers, participants all march and parade past the viewer, bearing up bands of vermillion and sapphire, rivers of color and ambiguous formations. The painting is playful and celebratory.

Gail Watkins, Genuine Fresco (2016)

Recently, Watkins’s works have eschewed the sensual pleasures of the Caribbean.  “Colour Canyon” and “Aleppo,” emerge from Watkins’s personal heritage and her response as an artist to the terrible war and suffering ongoing in the Middle East.  Watkins’s great-grandparents grew up in Aleppo, Syria, and left the city as newlyweds, settling in northern Lebanon.  The terrible images of death and ruin appearing nightly in newscasts and front pages across the world haunt us all, but evoke a particular pathos for Watkins. “Had they [her great-grandparents], as children, lived on those decimated streets? How did they feel as immigrants” What is my link to their past?” 

Movement, mystery, division come together in Watkins’s “Colour Canyon,” 2016, inspired by the artist’s trip to the Sinai Peninsula tracing part of her heritage. The muted golds, roses, and blues are separate forces, layered and resting one on another. Some of the bands reveal flowing, bulbous forms, some reveal very little. The unified painting suggests little motion, but a certain brooding potential.

Gail Watkins, Aleppo (2017)

“Aleppo,” 2017, is in stark contrast to most of the other pieces in this series. It is raw and still, dull gray and dusty tan, a band at the top the color of dried blood. And, on a ragged edge, a scrap of Persian blue, evoking a torn curtain or abandoned garment. Texture is central to this work; jagged, cracked, pockmarked.  There is no mistaking the visual impact – even without the work’s title.

Watkins’ work has, for the last decade, focused on uncovering what is hidden. Now, the work seems to step out into the light, conveying joy or suffering. There is no neutrality. What is revealed demands our attention.

AUTHOR BIO

Janice F. Booth is the author of Crofton: Images of America and has written for local, regional and national publications including What’s Up? Publications, American Artist, the Wildlife Art Journal, BizPeake Journal, and Lancaster Farming. Janice is an adjunct professor of English and Communications at Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, Maryland, and has been an educator for over 40 years. She has a Master of Arts Degree from Wayne State University. Additionally. She can be contacted by email at janicebooth@verizon.net. Read her blog at www.open-line.org  

 

 

  

An Interview with Emily Welsh

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I am taking ideas and themes from older projects and working them into new projects while I am here. I went to school for printmaking. I liked intaglio on copper the best. They had a brand new studio where I went to school and they were just getting a bunch of non-toxic things. My apartment is small and I wanted to get back into printmaking. I have been elbows deep in work which lent me to be in the music industry and night-life.

I was doing a lot of sketches in bars and with musicians. I had this idea to create the sketches into prints and develop them into a more finished project. Because I have been so heavily involved in work I have not been able to express myself the way I used to so having my studio at Maryland Hall has been great.

What are the primary materials that you use?  

Pen and watercolor for the initial sketches I have been doing. I carry a small cheap ten color watercolor kit. For the prints I use copper plates and ink - typically black and white. I might experiment with color this go around though.

What’s your earliest memory of art?

Probably my art teacher from middle school. It was around Easter time and I came home with these really intricate drawings of “Eggtown” and I did everything cars, buildings, etc. In elementary school art was prominent. In Middle school, the curriculum changed and for some reason art was lost somewhere.  I was more science oriented. In highschool I went back to taking art classes.

What work of art do you most wish you’d made?

Any of Jeff Koons balloon animal sculptures mainly because I wish the large scale is something I could do. I just don’t have the means to really do that. I want to create a mechanical menagerie and have these large scale mechanical animals. They would probably be paper mache but I will refine the technique from my previous paper mache endeavors.

How has your time as an AIR been? Was it how you expected?

It has been great being here. I live with two other people and they have  turned our kitchen table into a craft center.For me, it’s really just creating a mess and not cleaning it up. So, it has been really nice to have a studio where I come back to everything where I left it. I was an AIR in the past as well and I came into that residency with no expectations. It both was and wasn’t what I was thinking.

When you work, do you love the process or the result?

I think if i don’t like the process then I won’t like the result. [In printmaking] you have to prepare the plate in such a way first or the rest of the system won’t work. If you miss a step the acid won’t set or the ink won’t dry, and so on. I become somewhat obsessed with the process. I can tell going to a bar if the process is going to work based on who is there, what music it is, what bar I’m at, etc.

What is your ideal creative activity?

Driving. I had the grand scheme of finding a studio space and etching these drawings when I was on a really long drive. It has happened multiple times - on the jersey turnpike when I have been by myself long enough that my mind starts turning and I want to pull over and start writing all these things down.

Which artists do you most admire?

I have been heavily influenced by illustrators. My grandmother had the older version of the old Wizard of Oz stories. Some are full color illustrations and some are just black and white. the whole fantastical themes stuck with me.

My favorite artists are

Quentin Blake - Roaldl Dahl Books

Hilary Knight - Elouise

W.W. Denslow - Wizard of Oz

Edward Gorey -  The Gashlycrumb Tinies

What is something you are proud of that you have created in the past?

The Electric Elephant is a book that my grandfather wrote. It was based on another story with the same title. He wrote 50 pages filled with stories and they always incorporated me and my 3 cousins, Kate, Sam, and Grace on an adventure. I illustrated the whole book.

Who are some of your role models?

Outside of my parents it would be some of the people I worked with previously. I worked at Rams Head and met a lot of really incredible tour managers. A lot of the female tour managers were really influential in a really man-dominated industry.

 

What is your creative ambition?

A mechanical menagerie based off of my animal prints is definitely something to work towards.

What are the obstacles to this ambition?

Space and size. When I was working on the elephant the last time I was here, I wanted to do an art installation kind of art walk. At the time there were a lot of unfortunate empty storefront spaces in Historic Annapolis. I would like to use those spaces at some point and create random areas for art installations. It would include a pop-up art walk.

How do you begin your day?

Currently just setting a loose plan for the day. Trying to get into a routine.

What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?

Circles are definitely repetitive in my art. If you look through any of my sketchbooks you will see them everywhere.

Is a creative dialog important to you and if so how do you find it and with whom?

Outside of doing these portraits of people at bars there was not a lot of dialog like that at work. But, I do rely on a conversation to further what I am doing. I like it to be someone who is far away from the process and from me. Sometimes it takes someone, who has no idea about my work, that asks me a question that sparks an answer or another way to see or do things.

Father/daughter duo Peter and Lisa Egeli held a gallery talk on March 11 for their exhibition "Nature/Nurture: The Paintings of Father and Daughter" on display in the Chaney Gallery. The gallery talk was well attended and a number of their paintings have already sold. If you have the opportunity to, stop by and check out their exhibition along with Patrice Drago's and Ruth Connell's also on display at Maryland Hall through April 11.  Ruth Connell will be hosting a gallery talk on Wednesday, April 8 at 5:30 pm.

Photos courtesy of Patrick O'Brien - www.PatrickOBrienStudio.com

The Capital recently featured the upcoming exhibition Nature/Nurture: The Paintings of Father and Daughter by Peter Egeli and Lisa Egeli. 

Like father like … daughter?

Peter Egeli, 80, is a well-regarded painter and portrait artist. A son of famed portraitist Bjorn Egeli, a native of Norway, he grew up in a family where every one of his siblings picked up the paintbrush en route to becoming acclaimed artists.

His son Stuart Egeli took another path. A 1992 Naval Academy graduate, he had a 24-year career in the Navy.

His daughter Lisa, 48, has now followed in his paint-spattered footsteps, becoming a third-generation member of the Egeli artistic legacy.

She, too, is a portrait and landscape artist. Her portraits hang in institutions and in public and private collections. Her portfolio includes meticulously detailed portraits of gorillas and chimpanzees painted in their natural settings.

On March 2 through April 11, the father-and-daughter duo are exhibiting their landscapes, maritime scenes and wildlife studies in the Chaney Gallery at Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., Annapolis. Their showcase is called "Nature/ Nurture: The Paintings of Father and Daughter."

This is the first time they have exhibited together since family members staged a show in Baltimore in 1985.

In the showcase will be about 50 of their works both large and small. Primarily oil paintings, the Egelis are incorporating several pastel sketches and watercolor paintings into the display.

Some were painted while the pair were outside, standing either side-by-side or back-to-back. Several were created near the house of her father and mother Elizabeth Stuart "Stu" Egeli in the St. Mary's County town of Drayden.

Click here to read the full article to learn more about the father/daughter duo and their exhibit which will be on display in the Chaney Gallery from March 2 - April 11. 

Maryland Hall invites all 2D abstract artists to apply for the ALL ABSTRACT exhibition that will be on display from May 13 - July 11. Artworks limited only by your imagination. Explore color, movement, form and other intangibles that are not dependent on a recognizable subject.

Works up to 44” are eligible for this exhibit where one artwork will be displayed by each artist and can be a painting, drawing, print or collage. No sculpture or photography. Works on paper must be framed and ready for hanging. All works must have hanging wires. No saw tooth hangers will be allowed. Delivery of artworks is Monday, May 11 from 10-5. Works will be exhibited from May 13 – July 11 on Maryland Hall's 2nd floor hallway panels. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, May 14 from 5:30 - 7 pm. Please note, this is not a juried exhibit. 

Submit one image with the following information to strumpy@mdhallarts.org. Please include name, address, email, phone number, title of artwork, size, medium or technique, price or NFS.  The last day to apply is April 15. 

Image: Cassandra Kabler, Summer News, 2010, 31 x 22.5, watercolor. 

Please join us for a free Gallery Talk on Monday, February 9 at 6 pm. 

Matt Korbelac, president of the Digital Photography Club of Annapolis will introduce the winners of the Digital Visions: Annual Juried Show of the Digital Photography Club of Annapolis in the Chaney Gallery. The winners will discuss their piece, addressing why they chose to take it and how they addressed problems in doing so. Printing on various papers and other materials and framing choices will also be discussed. Speakers will include James Walker speaking for himself and Annette Uroskie, Chris Edwards and Lynann Rudert. 

Immediately following the talk in the Chaney Gallery, head up to the third floor for a discussion in the Balcony Gallery by Vince Lupo about his photographs. Vince says of his work, “These photos are impressions of where I've been, what I've seen and the feelings these encounters have evoked.  Call them my visual "curricula vitae," or at least a small sliver of them.”

Artist-in-Residence Patrice Drago has a couple of exhibits around Annapolis in October.

Stop by and check them out! 

Summer Haze, Acrylic on Canvas

 

"Above the Surface"

Patrice Drago's solo show of abstract sailboat and marine-themed art will be on display at 49 West
from October 3 - 31. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, October 5 from 5 - 7 pm. 

 

49 West Coffeehouse, Winebar & Gallery
49 West St
Annapolis, MD 21401
Website

 

 Brisk Afternoon

 

"Art of the Forest"

Patrice Drago will be part of a multi-artist, multi-media exhibit of art that reflects the poetry of trees at West Annapolis Artworks from October 2 - November 8. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, October 16 from 5 - 8 p.m.

West Annapolis Artworks
4 Annapolis Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
Website

 

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