Wendy Weldon: Color, shape, and inspiration
According to artist Wendy Weldon, her show this weekend at the Chilmark Library provides an opportunity that she's never had before. Along with the public, she will have a chance to view in one space paintings of hers that span more than a decade.
"The new pieces haven't been shown yet, and the older pieces are ones that were in my own collection, and I've never shown them on the Vineyard," she says. "So it just is a great opportunity for me to look at all the different kinds of work that I've done in the past and how it relates to what I do now."
Photo by Susan Safford
Since 1997, Ms. Weldon has been working out of a spacious studio atop a hill near her Chilmark home. A picture window reveals a stunning view of Squibnocket Pond, with the barrier beach and ocean in the distance. The adjacent wall features a huge cabinet filled with an array of icons from all over the world. Ms. Weldon's "shrine," as she calls it, is a fascinating collection of angels, Buddhas, a number of crosses - both crude and ornate, saints and Mexican tin paintings, along with interesting flea market finds.
Ms. Weldon, who's been painting for over three decades, tends to demarcate the various periods in her artistic development by correlating them with where she was at the time she found her inspiration. Her shrine pictures were made while living in California, where she began her icon collection. Her bed and lamp series is based on objects in a hotel room where she stayed while on a trip to Mexico. Paintings of both these periods are included in her upcoming show.
"I've been collecting things for years - things that capture my imagination," Ms. Weldon explains. Along with the treasures she brought back from California and Mexico, there are a few Chilmark Flea Market finds, and one of her favorites is a rock she retrieved from a stream in Vermont, where she also lived for a time. The flat surface of the stone has an image resembling a bear that sometimes reappears in the artist's work.
Images courtesy of wendyweldon.com
Ms. Weldon's solo show will feature some of her signature barn and rock paintings - bold shapes in brilliant layers of color, often made dramatic with gold leaf embellishment. The canvases vibrate with color upon color, and the effect becomes almost mystical.
She started painting barns while living in Vermont and has continued working with the image since moving to Martha's Vineyard. The familiar Monopoly house-style barn has been reinvented time and again by the artist who says, "The image just stuck with me because it has an emotional tie." She explains she started out painting pure abstracts, with round and square shapes in bright colors, and finally, "The barn became a vehicle for the colors and the shape became recognizable." Her circles evolved into the bold stonewalls that are so clearly identified with the Vineyard landscape.