West Tisbury’s Field Gallery has brought together three very different but equally compelling artists in their latest exhibit.
Providence painter David Witbeck, who is showing at the gallery for the first time, creates oil paintings of fish, fishermen, and boats that are boldly simplified in primary colors. Jessica Pisano, who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and now lives in Newport, R.I., has on exhibit a series of richly textured landscapes in acrylic and oil with silver and gold leaf. Chilmark resident David Geiger works in the unusual medium of glass panels, and rather than painting on glass, uses glass granules to depict such familiar Island scenes as the cliffs at Lucy Vincent Beach, the Gay Head cliffs, and the Chilmark brickyard. Ms. Pisano, who has operated galleries in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown, last appeared at The Field Gallery in 1998; Mr. Geiger has also exhibited his work there.
Mr. Witbeck, who grew up in upstate New York, has had an attraction to salt water and fishing boats since childhood. After spending 25 years as a freelance photographer, he returned to painting. “Having been a photographer for more than three decades, the greatest joy I have as a painter is freedom from ‘reality’,” he has said. Working like a cartoonist, he enjoys twisting, stretching, exaggerating, and simplifying what he sees. A good example of how these forces work for him is in “Split Rock,” a marine scape strikingly familiar to the large rock formation off Lambert’s Cove Beach. According to gallery director Jennifer Pillsworth, Mr. Witbeck had not seen the Lambert’s Cove rock before painting his similar vision. Yet the humorous fishermen holding outsized fish that he depicts in paintings such as “Brandon” and “Orville” are portraits of actual people.
“As a young art student I took myself and art way too seriously,” he said in his artist’s statement. “I still take my art seriously, but my serious intent is to create something that’s well designed and entertaining to look at.”
Ms. Pisano concentrates on trees and woodland-framed water scenes executed in a palette of warm winter browns enhanced with 23-carat gold leaf. Her work is often textured with a handmade paste she makes from marble dust that creates the illusion of gently breaking waves, as in “Deference” and “Gilded Shores.” Whether documenting the landscapes that inspire her in photographs or working plein air, this artist seeks to explore notions of time and atmosphere in her evocative work.
Mr. Geiger has written about his interest in science and in particular its artistic dimensions. He says, “From my amazement at the subtle variations in the colors and patterns of the butterflies and moths I collected as a child, or my fascination with the sculptural forms of insects, or floral segments, or the vast array of configurations found in the structures of minerals and crystals, I have always appreciated the artistry of the natural world.” His choice of glass as an artistic medium seems like a natural extension of these ideas. Fused glass that he may fire four, five, or six times allows him to bridge the gap between painting and sculpture in works like “Old Chilmark Brickyard” and “Cliffs at Lucy Vincent.”
David Witbeck, Jessica Pisano, and David Geiger, show runs through July 26, The Field Gallery, West Tisbury. For more information, visit fieldgallery.com.