The fall exhibitions on view at Old York’s George Marshall Store Gallery present the work of four New England artists, each who have a personal point of view and perspective. Grant Drumheller, a professor of art at the University of New Hampshire, is exhibiting two dozen paintings, most of which have been completed in the last year. He has titled his show “New Perspectives,” a title that can also apply to the work by the other artists currently showing. Courtney Sanborn completed a masters in painting at the University, however she is exhibiting ten small embroideries, a medium where she can apply her knowledge of composition, color, and gesture, using cotton threads instead of paint. Vermont artists Donald Saaf and Julia Zanes share the dock level gallery space for their exhibition titled “Folklore.” The exhibitions continue through November 12th.
Drumheller has been a frequent exhibitor at the river front gallery. He continues his interest in overhead compositions in these recent paintings. “There is a new looseness in these paintings,” comments curator Mary Harding. “With less detail, there is even more information.” He is attracted to landscape views that are ‘peopled’ by folks going about their business, whether working, strolling, walking their dogs, digging for clams, sledding in a city park or enjoying a day at the beach.
His “Piazza, End of Day”, a 60” x 48” acrylic on canvas, shows a crowd of people making their way across a stone paved piazza. With just a few quick brush strokes one can make out the gesture of an adult pulling a reluctant child through the late afternoon raking light. One can make out a figure looking at a cell phone, another two figures holding hands. These distinctive bird-eye views, are about the balancing of elements, i.e., spaces to figures, color to tone and warm areas to cool. Whether real or imagined places, they are always lively and inviting.
Courtney Sandborn’s embroideries are about personal moments, conversations and somewhat humorous events. The settings and characters are metaphorical in nature, and exist in a space born from direct observation and memory. The small nude figures are often surrounded with colorful exotic plants and small animals: dogs, cats, and strange little monsters that are all rendered in both traditional embroidery and free form stiches.
Bright color, bold composition and pattern are the founders of her process. For these narrative scenes she uses imagery from a wide variety of sources ranging from medieval illuminated manuscripts, to the rug designs of Marguerite Zorach. Her compositions are influenced by a rich history of Americana and folk art including hooked rugs, early American needlepoint samplers and vernacular paintings.
The word “Folklore” applies equally well to the work of Donald Saaf and Julia Zanes, who are married to one another and share an artistic life in rural Vermont. Their work explores the intersection of fine art and folk art. The subject matter of their colorful paintings – often using mix media and collage – reference their local community, family and immediate surroundings but with a sprinkling of fairy dust. They embrace the idea that folktales are a microcosmic mirror of our lives and our bigger stories, which might otherwise by impossible to sum up.
Saaf’s uses walnut ink to draw simple improvisations of organic forms . He slowly adds various elements: old Italian papers, maps, ephemera, inks, gouache and Japanese watercolors. His studio overlooks Brattleboro’s main street where there is a steady flow of people walking by. Although at first a distraction, he soon became fascinated and started to think of the parade of people as something like a moving garden. As the paintings evolved the figures became more and more plantlike and eventually bloomed with flowers.
Zanes often works in large series based on books or stories that have captured her imagination. Several small paintings from these series are included however the show features her newest abstract panel paintings. Layers of transparent circles and undulating ribbons of color suggest meditation and abstract dream like sequences. Saaf’s and Zane’s work are interspersed in the space and collectively create a magical environment.
The exhibitions continue through November 12. Gallery hours are 10-5 Wednesday through Saturday, 1-5 on Sunday. 140 Lindsay Road, York, Maine. The gallery is a program and property of the Old York Historical Society. For more information please visit www.gerorgemarshallstoregallery.com or call 207-351-1083.