The George Marshall Store Gallery recently opened two new exhibitions for the month of September. Aptly named for the season is “Back to School Special” which features work by the faculty of the University of New Hampshire Department of Art. Also on view is “Things Remembered” by Portsmouth artist Michael Stasiuk, who combines fragments of found objects to create standing figures and scenes that are full of gestures and personality.
Many of the artists in “Back to School Special” have exhibited their work in the York gallery in either solo or group shows. Although they exhibited together at the University, they don’t often have the opportunity to show collectively elsewhere. Between them they cover the disciplines of painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, printmaking, sculpture and woodworking. As teachers, they are in the habit of giving assignments to their students. Perhaps, unconsciously they also give themselves assignments. The result is work that is always exploring new ideas and techniques.
This is very true of the work by painter Craig Hood who is the current chair of the department. His most recent paintings have a mysterious layered haze, nearly obliterating the figures and objects that were much more evident in his previous work. These paintings draw you in, and invite you to draw the mystical curtain aside. The titles of the paintings give clues, such as “Dusty Road (Man Left Behind)” and “Starting Out”, where a small dark shadow gives the suggestion of a figure walking down a path.
Grant Drumheller’s newer paintings have a much looser, open brushwork. His most recent paintings are landscape views with the perspective of being seen from above. One has a bird’s eye view looking down on “Beryl Beach” where dozens of figures are enjoying the water and sunning on the shore. Rick Fox spreads his paint with wide brushes and a pallet knife for his views of Chauncey Creek and Kittery Point. Painter Brian Chu uses short, multicolor strokes reminiscent of impressionism for his still life of onions in a basket and a larger painting of Mount Washington. Abstract paintings and collages are contributed by Jennifer Moses, thus rounding out the variety of styles and approaches within the department.
Julee Holcombe and Michael Cardinali teach photography. Holcombe seamlessly combines multiple images on the computer. Visitors are spellbound by her 48” x 42” photograph “Metropolis” which combines iconic architecture from around the world. Cardinali uses more traditional techniques for his black and white photographs of woodlands, ponds and portraits of his wife.
Sculptor Sachiko Akiyama just completed her first year at the University and is exhibiting two large carved and painted wooden pieces. “Four Corners of the Floating World” combines figures and cranes that stands over five feet tall. Leah Woods also works in wood. Her “Spaces In Between” is a large floor pieces that has numerous parts which radiate from a center point. One has the feeling that the parts could all fit together but in reality they can’t.
Placed throughout the gallery are ceramics by Don Williams. Two of his “Cistern” vessels flank the photograph “Metropolis.” Architecture has been an important reference for the artist for a long time. His wood fired, sculptural pieces make visual connections with the work by his colleagues throughout the gallery.
Artist Michael Stasiuk has filled the dock level gallery with his found object sculptures that are a combination of free standing figures and bas reliefs. The “skirts” and “torsos” of many of these figures are made from antique lobster buoys which is an appropriate material since the view from the gallery is of a working waterfront, complete with bait shake covered in buoys. Charm and whimsy are found in almost all of the pieces. Some pieces are quite elegant in their simplicity such as the “Gentleman with a Suitcase.” His ability to animate ordinary objects and infuse them with personality and gesture is remarkable. Visitors to the gallery, without exception, respond with smiles and delight.
The exhibitions continue through October 2nd. Gallery hours are 10 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 on Sunday and by appointment. The gallery is a property and program of the Museums of Old York and is located at 140 Lindsay Road, York. 207-351-1083 www.georgemarhshallstoregallery.com