Wish You Were Here, New Work by Garry Mitchell September 7th to October 13th, 2018 at Speedwell Projects in Portland, ME
One day Colby art professor Garry Mitchell was looking for interesting spaces on campus for his students to draw from observation. He came upon a hall in the Geology Department where there were hundreds of topographical maps draped over benches. At the time, he was painting the beautifully colored process paintings loosely based on grids, intrigued with pentimenti, and with a sense of musicality derived from the play between figure and ground for which he is known. The maps, though, sent him off in a new direction.
Mitchell had been working on canvas tarps at the time—a material that comes folded just like a map—and he decided to juxtapose the topographical maps with color and then, though he had never previously used narrative in his work, he decided to incorporate text into his work. He conceived the words as a visual rather than a literal element, using quotes from a favorite book, Italo Calvin’s Invisible Cities, which intersperses descriptions of imaginary cities with imagined conversations in which Marco Polo tells Kublai Khan about his travels.
Though words and pieces of letters (the latter of which Mitchell has worked with before) were mostly important to him for their generative potential and formal aspects, he knew certain words would resonate emotionally, especially in the current political climate. A further collage aspect of the work comes from dripping paint (in colors related to the map colors) on a glass palette and then scraping the dried circles off and applying it to the canvas as a decal. The work in “Wish You Were Here” uses a happenstance find to create intricate, complex surfaces, which speak to notions about journey, discovery, travel, losing one’s way, apprehension, and foreboding. A graduate of University of Hawaii and Pratt Institute, Garry Mitchell has exhibited his work nationally and internationally. He teaches studio art at Colby College. He lives in North Yarmouth, Maine, with his wife and son.
Wish You Were Here
New Work by Garry Mitchell
September 7th, 2018 – October 13th, 2018
Opening reception: Friday, September 7th, 6-8 pm
The artist in conversation with Dan Kany: Thursday, October 20th, 6-8 pm
Closing reception: Saturday, October 13th, 6-8 pm
630 Forest Avenue
Portland, Maine 04101
Gallery open for viewing: Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 12-6pm + by appointment