“Near the Kidney Pond Inlet, Baxter Park”
The Harlow presents “Abbott Meader: Land Visions Seen and Imagined — A Retrospective” from June 9 to July 3 at 100 Water St. in Hallowell.
Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Charles Abbott Meader, the son of Albion parents and descended from over four generations of Maine natives, was born in August 1935 in Brooklyn, New York. During his childhood, he summered with relatives in Maine and wintered in Brooklyn, where he attended public schools. He was a kid who was always drawing something, and his mother and others encouraged him to continue. While his high school art teacher suggested that he go to Pratt Institute, he instead ended up at Dartmouth College, studying art history and taking all the studio courses they then offered. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1957 and went off to Paris on a one-year fellowship. There he met Nancy Brecht, and they have been married for 62 years.
The two traveled west to the University of Colorado, where Abbott studied with noted painter Richard Diebenkorn, among others, became a friend of experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1960. A year later, he had the good fortune to be offered a position near his ancestral home in Maine as the first studio instructor at Colby College. He taught there until 1974, when he left in order to have more time to paint, draw, make films, assist Nancy with her expanding pottery career, and deal more closely with the parenting of three kids. Then, in 1983, he returned to Colby as a part-time faculty member and taught there until his retirement in 1998.
In the artist’s own words:
In this exhibit I look back across several decades at many of my approaches to landscape subjects. You will find plein air drawings and paintings here — pieces done outside, on site — as well as studio pieces developed from sketches and photographs. There are also some pure “inventions” that derive from combinations of observation, memory, and imagination — “hybrids”, if you will.
Over the years, I have done considerable non-objective work as well — work that is generally called by the vague term “abstraction” — yet mostly I reference observable sources in some manner, and especially landscape subjects. At the same time you will see that I seldom present a strict rendering of something observed, but rather seek to express a dialogue between the visual elements I see and my inner feelings about them. I grew up strongly influenced by Abstract Expressionism yet just as strongly by the long history of landscape painting in Europe and America. Winslow Homer. Vincent Van Gogh. Jackson Pollock. Marsden Hartley. Willem de Kooning. Henri Matisse. Georgia O’Keeffe. I could go on and on but will only mention the West Coast figurative artists, and especially Richard Diebenkorn, with whom I studied one summer at the University of Colorado. And I will only add that I believe that in some deep sense all true artists are realists, and that there are many forms of realism.
The work here spans 40 years, from 1981 to 2021. It has been a long trip, and these pieces are a few stops I’ve made along the way.
Learn more at https://www.harlowgallery.org/post/abbott-meader-land-visions-seen-and-imagined-a-retrospective-june-9-july-3-2021.