Martha's Vineyard's Field Gallery presents Danforth, Gibbs, Jack
Photo courtesy of Field Gallery
Two painters and a sculptor will share space at West Tisbury's Field Gallery in an exhibit that opens on Sunday, July 22. The public is invited to meet the artists at a reception that evening from 5 to 7 pm.
New to the Field Gallery this year, Jean Jack lived for many years in Santa Fe, N.M., before recently returning to the East Coast to settle in Yarmouth, Maine. Her award-winning paintings might be called architectural landscapes; the buildings in them dominate the work in fascinating and thought-provoking ways.
Purified in form, Ms. Jack's houses and barns often loom out of intense blue space grounded suggestively with green grass and tree foliage. As a result, echoes of New Mexico's broad skies wander through her work beside their explicit New England architectural frames of reference.
In a work like "Border Barn, Sunlight," the artist has reduced the building to its essential form, punctuated by the stark black geometry of tiny windows and a door. Shadows soften this barn's angles and connection to the ground.
Even the beams, posts, windows and doors, gaily decorated with an orange-red, in "Fiddlehead Farm Stand" invite the viewer to think about how the building is put together and why. And by shifting the locus of "So Close" off-center, Ms. Jack asks the viewer to consider the way this farmhouse with attached barn relates to its natural setting. In each case, the artist is rethinking how rural buildings shape our experience of the world.
Sharing space with Ms. Jack in the new show is Stephanie Danforth of Chilmark. Ms. Danforth came to the art world after 20 years as a pediatric nurse practitioner. A trip to Kenya in 2000 changed her life.
"My soul was touched forever by my experience there," she writes in an artist's statement; she left health care and became a full-time artist. Ms. Danforth devotes each dollar earned through sale of her paintings to pay for education in Kenya at a school for girls that is the only free secondary institution in the country.
Although her choice of subjects varies greatly from that of Ms. Jack, Ms. Danforth is also a colorist. Working with oil or in mixed media, Ms. Danforth imbues many of her paintings with gold leaf. Vegetables, fruits, and flowers fascinate this artist, who is a member of the Copley Society.
Ms. Danforth often places her subjects against a tapestry-like graphic background, pulling them out of conventional context the way Ms. Jack does with her sky backdrops. This approach allows the artist to examine more closely the form of plums in "Royal Trio" or a shallot in "Awaiting Growth." The sheen of gold leaf helps the softer colors in "Trio" resonate.
Ms. Danforth's mixed media work demonstrates her well-developed sense of composition and allows her to play with metallic surfaces and cut-out shapes. With its winged dress, little hinged doors, and tapestry-like background, "Faith Is Believing" liberates itself from the flatness of a two-dimensional background.
Metal sculptor Charles Gibbs adds yet another perspective to the rich mix of Ms. Jack's and Ms. Danforth's paintings. Based in Pepperell, Mr. Gibbs is a frequent visitor to the Vineyard, where he stays with Ms. Danforth, who is a friend.
Tinkering with metal for 45 years, he left a business career to take up sculpture full time in 1999. After living in a Boston-area house with a basement filled with small machine parts left behind by an inventor, he began making art by recycling junk metal.
His metal sculpture has found its way to the Peabody Essex Museum, the Sharon (N.H.) Arts Center, the Fitchburg Art Museum, and a number of U.S. embassies, as well as galleries in San Francisco and New Orleans.
"I'm inspired by the natural world and by my rather bizarre imagination," Mr. Gibbs says in his artist's statement. In addition to found metal, he incorporates wood, bone, and other materials into his work.
"I prefer to work spontaneously, without drawings or plans, letting the pieces evolve during the process of assembling them," he has written. His birds, animals and boats often acquire names like "Roscoe," "Zeb," and "Xavier" that reflect the lively, sometimes comic form his sculpture takes. "Trash Fish" is the name he has given to a number of found-metal sculptures of fish. The sculptor shows a more serious, but never glum, side with works like "House Divided" and "Cryptic House."
Keeping company with Mr. Gibbs's metal sculptures, the paintings by Ms. Jack and Ms. Danforth will remain on view through August 5.
Jean Jack, Stephanie Danforth, and Charles Gibbs, opening reception Sunday, July 22, from 5 to 7 pm, Field Gallery, West Tisbury. For information, call 508-693-5595 or visit fieldgallery.com.