Galleries : Common Ground: Three landscape artists at Craven
Carol Craven, once an aspiring actress, finds that the art business is quite similar to a stage. "You're putting on a show and just trying to get it all done," says the owner of he Carol Craven Gallery in Vineyard Haven.
Ms. Craven assesses the second room of her gallery: paintings that range in genre from American modernist to contemporary decorate the walls from floor to ceiling and hang along the stairway to a second floor.
"Some might wonder how you could have an Alexander Calder and Wolf Kahn and Stephen Haddock all in the same room," she says, "But to me there is a common thread of narrative that ties each painting in the gallery together. To me it all makes sense."
The Carol Craven Gallery currently features the work of three landscape artists on three adjacent walls of the showcase room: Christie Scheele, Nancy Ellison, and J. Christian Snedeker. Ms. Craven acknowledges the eclectic juxtaposition of works, but notes that the paintings and photographs highlight one another. "I could picture it in my head when I was sitting at my desk in New York," she says.
Ms. Craven observes that her ability to bind a range of work together stems from years of experience. She has been working in the art business for more than three decades, and operating a gallery on the Vineyard for the past 13 years. In the off-season, she works privately in New York City as an art consultant and curator of her summer shows.
"Changing Winds," Christie Scheele's series, is a collection of landscapes of the Catskills and the Vineyard that focuses on reducing detail and exploring a minimalist field. Ms. Scheele is a studio painter who relies on photographs and memory to paint constrictive, transient scenes. She works with oil on linen and layers her paintings with a wax medium, an approach that allows her work to evoke a distinct time, atmosphere, and moment of serenity, despite the landscape's subtle reconstructions. "I try to capture a feeling of joy, not just create a pleasant or happy painting," says Ms. Scheele.
Photos courtesy of Carol Craven Gallery
"Evening Arrival," depicts a ferry approaching a peaceful Oak Bluffs harbor under a cloudy sky infused with fuchsia. Ms. Scheele explains that while the ferry and sky are accurate illustrations, she removed parked cars and simplified the number of streetlights by the harbor in order to "up the impact."
Nancy Ellison's series "Water Sun Moon" was inspired by her awe of water. "I see it as a state of meditation," says Ms. Ellison. "It's like a doorway that allows you into something and takes you out of somewhere else."
Ms. Ellison prints her photographs digitally, often altering them beforehand so that they resemble watercolors and pastels.
One image depicts a setting sun that explodes with bright colors interweaving amongst clouds. Another image captures a blur of clouds, vast sky, and water in three vertical tiers of gray that seep into one another.
"The feeling is more important than the specificity," Ms. Ellison observes. "As the process becomes more abstract and more vague, I am hoping for the images to become more powerful in their evocative qualities."
Like Ms. Ellison, J. Christian Snedeker seeks the ethereal, though he employs a different medium. His series, entitled "In Chilmark," is composed of oils on canvas that are concerned with capturing the natural beauty of the Vineyard with a realistic, but captivated eye.
"I am drawn to the wonder and mystery of the world," he says, "the natural, mostly unspoiled way the environment is, things that God made and not man."
"Surf Caster" depicts up-Island cliffs that melt into rock-studded sands under a tumultuous sky. "Sunset at Menemsha" shows a jetty streaming out into a calm ocean, under an orange and blue sky.
Ms. Ellison notes how well the paintings fit together. "There is a sense of calm and tranquility to the show," she says. "Each series allows one to meditate on the space."Opening Reception, Sunday, Aug. 3, 5-7 pm, Carol Craven Gallery, Vineyard Haven.
J. Christian Snedeker, Christie Scheele, and Nancy Ellison. Through Aug. 7. 508-693-3535.
Samantha McCoy, a student at Cornell University, is a frequent contributor to The Times.