Galleries : Gude exhibits at NYE Gallery
"Whales at the Rip," Anthony Benton Gude's large seascape, is dominated by dramatic clouds in front of a full moon, a glistening rip current and two whales blowing like semi-submerged steamboats. The painting takes pride of place at Mr. Gude's new exhibit of 22 works at NYE Gallery in Oak Bluffs. Mr. Gude, who was born on the Island and has summered since childhood in Aquinnah at what used to be the compound of his grandfather, Thomas Hart Benton.
The legacy of Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) - painter, muralist and a leader of the Regionalist art movement - looms large. His influence appears most clearly in Mr. Gude's renderings of cloud formations. The vibrant, gray clouds of "Whales at the Rip" could almost be taken for a specter sailing in front of the moon and its halo. Wispy, red-tinged cirrus clouds in "Raking Clams" create a resonant backdrop for the central figure of the clam digger standing in the water between two rocky grass tufts. The powerful sense of contrast established by these masterfully painted, nearly silhouetted elements also evokes his grandfather.
Gallery owner Kim Nye utilizes her operatically sized main gallery room to show off Mr. Gude's work to its best advantage. Six of his recent seascapes hang on the main wall opposite the front entrance, while four works featuring inland waterways are positioned on a divider to the left of the entrance. Across the maroon-velvet-curtained opening to the gallery's second room is a grouping of 10 still lifes.
Well positioned among Michael Zide's black and white photographs in an alcove off the main room is Mr. Gude's "Hush." This distinctively monochromatic and lyrical winter landscape foregrounds a leafless birch stand in a woodland setting. The lowering sun creates a strong, contrasting pattern of narrow, black shadows on the snow that is characteristic of Mr. Gude's palette even in the near absence of color.
A charming little portrait of a swan rests on the gallery counter. The elegant arc of its neck is doubled in the orange marsh water where it paddles towards a shadowy, black shoreline with yellow- and orange-tipped grasses.