Gail Rodney and Marston Clough share space at Old Sculpin Gallery in an exhibit called “Intersections,” which will run virtually or in Edgartown from Saturday, August 15, to Saturday, August 29. The two have been friends for many years.
Living in New York since her college days, Rodney started off with cityscapes, but she also did Chappaquiddick landscapes. Summering on Chappaquiddick, she’s been primarily a landscape artist, working in oil, collage, pastel, and watercolor. She has belonged to the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association, which runs Old Sculpin Gallery, for 25 years, eventually serving as its president.
“I like to think of paint as my friend, and explore it for its own sake,” says Rodney. “What it wants to do is often more exciting than what I intended.” Precision always lurks, according to her. Her goal is to understand form and color.
She created three artists’ books, based on three different poems. The first of three was based on Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” The other two were inspired by Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty,” and by two Shakespearian songs. She is working on one based on “Love Calls Us to the Things of this World” by Richard Wilbur.
Her interest in combining art with words came because she was an English major in college. She saw the imagery in poems, and “they stuck with me,” she says. She also found them enigmatic. “All those poetic tools suggest more than the words,” she added. “Art is nonverbal. Poetry is words. I took a side trip with Vineyard book publisher Jan Pogue,” she said in an interview last week. That book was done in pen and ink with watercolor.
Not all her work combines art with words. In “Calm Morning, Katama” she depicts two boats floating on still waters with a skyline behind them. Many of her paintings illustrate Chappaquiddick. One dramatic example is “Waiting at Sunset Ferry Point.” Another is “Late afternoon Chappy Point.” She enjoys working with Clough. “He’s great,” she says.
Clough was born on the Island and lived in Southborough, until he retired from teaching science in 2003 and started painting seriously. He began by taking courses at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, then the Worcester Art Museum. “I happen to like to doodle and draw,” he says. He bought a house in Vineyard Haven, and spent summers there until his wife retired, and now they live on-Island full time.
“I liked to draw,” he says. “I like to do etchings.” He continued making monotypes. “I’m an impulsive painter,” he explains. “I let the canvas dictate. The ones I like best are the impulsive ones, ones I don’t have to go back over.” He paints primarily in oils.
Horizons and skies appeal to him because the light changes a lot. He works with a varied palette, in particular muted scenes. “Sometimes I like bold things,” he says. “Sometimes I like muted ones. Those are the ones I’m happy with.”
Clough served as president of Featherstone’s board and treasurer of the Massachusetts Art Association. Because of the COVID crisis, he said to Rodney, “I’ll take one wall, you take another,” at Old Sculpin. He’s picked several paintings that are larger than usual. An example is “It’s Going to Clear,” where dark clouds dominate the painting with a lighter horizon. He describes his work as consisting of big, loose skies, calling them atmospheric, foggy, and muted. “If I can achieve that, then I love it.” He also says, “The one thing that I really like about art is making friends.” Of Rodney he says, “We get along. We’re both on the quiet side, but we’re determined.”
Old Sculpin Gallery on Edgartown Harbor, open Tuesday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm, and Sunday, 12 to 5 pm.