Colors of summer at Chilmark library
Despite the gray chill that prevailed outside on Saturday afternoon, the Chilmark library's spacious meeting room had a summer feel, its white walls brightened by the sweeps and swirls of color in Peg Thayer's oil paintings. Here is the Vineyard from tip to toe, Gay Head Cliffs to Edgartown Great Pond, lovingly sculpted in super-saturated color.
In "Towards Aquinnah Light," a silver-blue sea embraces softly rounded cliffs, layered in tones of rich clay-brown above smooth coral-tinged sand. A solitary dinghy lies at anchor, the water and sky the feather-light pastels of cool springtime, while the spits of rosy brown sand, the wide, light sky, and quiet, turquoise water in "Slough Cove" emanate a sultry, mid-summer warmth.
Sometimes Ms. Thayer's vision strays from the Island with equally auspicious results. In "Abiqui, New Mexico," a craggy rock formation towers up against the blue Southwestern sky, the mountains behind shadowed in violet and blue. "Hawaii on My Mind" features a lush burst of pink flowers amidst tropical green foliage. About all the scenes is a deep serenity. Ms. Thayer's forms are molded, organic, and fluid, ribbons and curved bands of color in echoing Georgia O'Keefe and Thomas Hart Benton.
"I love her colors and the strength of her vision," said Sarah Shepard who, with her husband, Mike, was among the many who came to enjoy the creativity, conversation, and cozy feeling of community.
Ms. Thayer, a tall, longhaired woman with a quiet way and ready wit, welcomed a stream of visitors who were congratulating her, greeting friends, and basking in the palpable summer-on-the-Vineyard atmosphere. Entranced by the Island's landscape and the luminous light that results from being surrounded by water, she said her goal is to convey the spirit of how it feels to be in the place she is painting. "People say they feel the joy and peace of the location when they look at my work," she said.
Admirers often say they purchase her art to ease stress and help themselves relax. "It's grounding and there's a meditative peacefulness that people can resonate with," Ms. Thayer explained. "It becomes healing art for the viewer, not just for the artist creating it."
Seeking a contrast to city living with its many distractions, Ms. Thayer moved to the Vineyard in 1994 from San Francisco, "It felt very centered here and like a good place to do artwork," she said.
The prolific artist is showing 13 oil paintings and offering smaller 8 1/2- by 11-inch prints of her work as well. There are note cards too, and magnets bearing miniature landscapes. Two blanket-sized tapestries are adorned with Ms. Thayer's original seaside scenes, machine-woven into the fabric by an off-Island company.
A three-part folding screen, "The Spirit of Aquinnah," depicts a panoramic view of the Gay Head Cliffs in warm tones of rose, beige, and rust brown. It magically brings the experience of being surrounded by nature indoors.
"The cliffs have caught my fancy, the color, the Southwestern organic rock formations, I could paint them over and over again," Ms. Thayer said.
Proud dad Roger Thayer confided that he has been watching his daughter paint since she was a little girl. "Our house is full of it, every wall in every room." He and his wife Jane still have her senior project from Goddard College, a wall-sized study of color made up of bright, non-representational shapes.
There was something for everyone at the show, even nine-year-old Ruby Dix who delightedly reported that she saw mysterious faces and animal shapes half-hidden among the bright, undulating forms.
Poet Judith Neeld, worried that she had no wall space left for a large painting, was thrilled to find a small print to take home. "Every artist wants to be unique," she said, "to have their own voice, and she does."
The show at the Chilmark library will continue through March. For more information on Peg Thayer's art, visit aahome.com/peggy