Field Gallery: Coastal landscapes by Mooney and ‘The Man’ series by di Pietro

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Some of Craig Mooney's paintings were on display outside the gallery as well as inside. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Vermont artist Craig Mooney, whose landscapes are currently on exhibit at West Tisbury’s Field Gallery, grew up summers in Edgartown. His handsome landscapes, which lean toward a generic form of abstraction, reflect the influence of that childhood experience. Mr. Mooney is sharing space at the Field Gallery with Vineyard painter Traeger di Pietro.

“I use very big, wide brushes,” Mr. Mooney said about his landscapes. “It prevents me from getting into specifics.” The brushwork not only pushes these oil paintings in the direction of abstract representation, but it also creates pleasing and distinctive patterns of horizontal lines in works such as “Serene Wave” and “Quiet Sea,” which celebrate the almost tactile quality of colors as light hits them on coastal waters.

After growing up in New York City, Mr. Mooney moved to Vermont to attend medical school at the University of Vermont. When he received a painting commission from Cornell Medical School, he decided to become an artist rather than a physician like his father, an amateur painter who had encouraged him to head into a financially safer field. The decision was clearly an inspired one, since his work now appears in 20 galleries, in cities like Boston, London, and Los Angeles among many others.

Not all Mr. Mooney’s work consists of pure landscapes. A self-taught painter, he also produces cityscapes and figurative paintings. Examples on display at the Field Gallery are “Captain’s House,” which celebrates the classically elegant lines of a 19th-century home; and “Inlet Boats,” a compositionally intriguing view of skiffs and sailboats on the water. His cityscapes reflect the influence of the years he lived in London and worked for celebrated filmmakers Ismail Merchant and James Ivory on film projects such as “The Remains of the Day,” starring Anthony Hopkins.

Traeger di Pietro’s work continues to demonstrate his romance with animals as signifiers of human traits, as in “From the Horse’s Mouth,” with its charming union of geese with a horse. “Go Fish” depicts an elephant eating the seven of hearts, a reflection of the artist’s interest in card tricks. When Mr. di Pietro asks people to pick a card, he has found they almost invariably choose the seven of hearts. “Gone Away” portrays a jaguar inside a human home, making it much like a family portrait representing human confinement by interiors.

As a painter with a conceptual bent, Mr. di Pietro deconstructs people as signifiers. Portraits of the sparkling and vivid red high heels of “Beautiful” and “Dreaming” let shoes stand in for feminine ornament. Examples from “The Man,” his Everyman series, include “Thank You,” where an anonymous, suited male figure — equally iconic as the female nude — introduces a cornucopia of colors into the composition. The painting includes black-and-white objects such as a fire hydrant in the foreground.

In “Changing Time,” the eponymous Man pushes a cart filled with clocks below a line-up of wall clocks, and in “Facing You,” he wears a suit and carries an overcoat made of newsprint behind a brightly colored urban skyline. Mr. di Pietro enjoys playing with the interaction of color and black-and-white, an interplay that adds yet another dimension to his always interesting work.

Traeger diPietro and Craig Mooney, Field Gallery, West Tisbury. Show runs through August 23. For information, visit fieldgallery.com.