Dowling Walsh Gallery exhibits work by Justin Richel, Susan Headley Van Campen, Robert Hamilton in June

“Going Up?” by Justin Richel.

During June, Dowling Walsh Gallery will host three solo exhibitions: Justin Richel, Susan Headley Van Campen and Robert Hamilton.

Each show runs June 4 to 26.

Justin Richel’s “Moonlighting” brings together two distinct bodies of work. Each series dealing with tones of isolation and absence. Richel presents us with a collection of paintings that are traditional in their method as well as works that skirt the line between painting and sculpture, resisting easy definition of being either. The exhibition title refers to the artist’s dual practice of painting and sculpture and is a nod to having a proverbial foot in two worlds; moonlighting as a laborer by day and artist by night.

In the “Nocturne” series, each composition is an appropriated frame from a Sunday comic strip. The characters and thought bubbles have been removed, leaving only the empty backgrounds of interior and exterior spaces. The color palette has been altered to variations of dark grays and blues. Strong contrasting colors of light emanate from open doorways and windows casting odd shadows. The absence of the figure leaves us with a pronounced feeling of lack or emptiness that is palpable in the vacant spaces.

Across the gallery, we are again faced with a reification of absence. This time of the moonlighting painter, who has abandoned their task of installing the exhibition, leaving one wall unfinished and tools laying unattended. An investigation of the scene reveals these tools are in fact sculptures. A closer look reveals that the sculptures are by definition paintings, composed of three simple ingredients: paint, canvas and wood supports. They are holistic in their construction; addressing the surface, the edge, the artifice inherent within the medium, and the space in which they exist. The sculptural paintings embody the absence of the figure, inviting the viewer to fill that absence with their own attention. In this revelation the viewer is now tasked with navigating these two worlds within the white cube of the gallery, perhaps questioning reality itself.

“Yellow Morning in June with Buttercups (Where the Deer Hide),” by Susan Headley Van Campen.

Susan Headley Van Campen’s show, “Where the Deer Hide,” takes the viewer into intimate vantage points outside and inside the artist’s home, her everyday surroundings that somehow change and shift daily. 

Her plein-air oil paintings are painted with the confident brushwork of a watercolorist, achieving bold impressions of Maine’s landscapes. Her small impressions capture big moments — rapidly changing weather, vast landscapes, dramatic shadows and heavy clouds.

The exhibit “Night at the Museum” will feature the paintings of Robert Hamilton (1917-2004).

“Velasquez,” by Robert Hamilton.

Hamilton retired to Port Clyde in 1981, after 34 years of teaching at Rhode Island School of Design. His paintings are imaginative amalgamations of his time as a fighter pilot during World War II, scenes of art museums, cartoon characters, circus performers,  portraits of friends and more.

His individual series play out scenes from completely different worlds, while sharing a familiarity through repetition. Hamilton conjured visions of what sustained him, fed his soul, a true shaman of magically real and deeply felt contemporary art. For years he hosted visitors in his studio and hand-built octagonal museum at his home in Port Clyde. His work is in the collections of the Portland Museum of Art, the Farnsworth Art Museum, and the RISD Museum.

Opening receptions will be held behind the building in the gallery parking lot from 3 to 6 p.m. June 5. Small groups will be allowed inside, masks required. 

Dowling Walsh Gallery is at 365 Main St. in Rockland. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment on Sundays and Mondays. Visit www.dowlingwalsh.com, or call 207-596-0084 for more information.

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