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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Penny Oliphant Named Artist of Distinction in Dwellings Exhibition

Penny Oliphant's paintings in Still Point Art Gallery's show Dwellings look and feel like pieces of America. The house at the railroad crossing, the vacation cabins with the 1950s-ish car in front, and the trailer beside a split rail fence...that's America. But then let's mention the bright and somewhat surreal colors...a certain twist on America. Call me crazy, but for some reason I hear good old-fashioned American folk music when I look at these paintings. In these pieces, the subjects are so grounded and solid, but the colors make the pieces move and sing. I hear music!


I asked Penny a few questions about her art...


Christine (Gallery): How would you describe your style? What draws you to your particular style of art?

Penny: I would describe my style as Contemporary Realism. I'm drawn to artwork that has an edge to it. Instead of being concerned with representing outward beauty, I'm more interested in discovering the unsettling reality that exists beneath the surface of contemporary life.

Christine: What are you seeking to express through your art?

Penny: I want to express my response to the solitary and sometimes desolate nature of the landscapes found along the back roads of interior Maine and New England.

Christine: What is the inspiration for your subjects...what inspired the subjects of the pieces in the Dwellings exhibition?

Penny: I'm inspired by intense light transforming the marginal places and objects along the roadside. In each of these paintings, my attention was initially focused on the remoteness of these structures. Drawing these subjects made me aware of their impermanent existence. Too often what I paint is eventually torn down and destroyed. I'm a member of the Society for Commercial Archeology, a group of professionals who value much of what is currently neglected along our highways.


Burnham Crossing, Mohawk Cabins, and Route 100 Trailer are available from Still Point Art Gallery. Contact Christine Cote by email or by phone (207.837.5760).

Christine Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
June 24, 2009

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John Luesing Named Artist of Distinction in Dwellings Exhibition

John Luesing makes his second appearance in a Still Point Art Gallery exhibition, having also been an exhibiting artist in the Still Point I show. As for his art work, John continues to show excellence in composing his photographs and framing his subjects.

A resident of Chicago, it is fascinating to see how someone from one of our greatest American cities approached this exhibition - Dwellings. Appropriately, John gives us the urban and the suburban, more so than any other artist in the show. In Condo Rehab #4 (first image on the left below), we see not just a large city condominium reflected in a couple of mirrors, but, as is made clear by the title and the debris in the photograph, we see a large city condo being rehabilitated. In a very creative way, John captured an essential piece of the urban landscape, a particular kind of urban dwelling known as the condo. But he added a real urban twist. His condo is undergoing rehab.

John's next photograph is all Chicago - the city's skyline reflected in frozen Lake Michigan. This image, Shadows on Lake Michigan (second from left below) makes an important statement in this exhibition: people inhabit more than their house... they inhabit their community, their town, their city. John's image speaks about city-dwellers, especially those who make their home in Chicago. This image has what defines a Chicagoan - the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, and winter. This is the dwelling of a Chicagoan.





John's other two photographs shown here, Suburban Swingset #1 and Bear Rug on Leather Floor #2, represent the suburbs. One is a sweet view of a young girl in a neighborhood park. The other is a bear rug, complete with bear head, on a leather floor, presumably in a den or gathering room - the kind of room one is likely to escape to after a hard week working in the city. John captured the theme of the exhibition in a very broad way, and in a way very true to his own dwelling.

John has this to say about his work...
My photography stems from my theories and practices as an interior designer.

Born in rural Michigan, I grew up surrounded by nat
ure, and at the time it was easy to take my environment for granted. Yet living around woods and fields instilled in me an appreciation for the forms and randomness of nature. As I grew older, a fascination for man’s ability to construct massive structures and buildings led me to begin studying interior architecture and design. The non-randomness of the process of building intrigued me.

When I moved to Chicago to complete my BFA in Interior Architecture and Design, I began studying the techniques and philosophies of the most famous twentieth-century architects: Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe to name a few. Their mathematical, proportional, and rational designs were a great inspiration to me, and I began applying these techniques to my own design.

I look at buildings and interiors as groupings of planes in multiple axes which are inherently related to one another; they have to be reconciled individually while simultaneously interacting with each other to produce a harmonious grouping. Within each individual plane there must be strong composition, but also an emotional component. Composition is what attracts you to the space. Emotion draws a response to the space, whether it is comforting, thought provoking, or something else. Usually I rely on my client to add the emotional content to the space through his or her likes and dislikes, as well as through personal objects interjected into the space. In my photography, I take responsibility for both of these aspects: composition and emotion.

When I see things that make me smile or make me think, I photograph them. I apply my theories of composition, proportion, color, and positive and negative space to create a composition that, when on paper, subconsciously draws the viewer to the subject matter. I would like to think my work inspires people to take a moment and appreciate the things around them they may have missed. It is important, I believe, to stop and regard the world around us.

In my photography, I don’t rely on specific subject matter. Living in Chicago, I am fortunate to be exposed to both the randomness of nature and the structure of man’s creations. I have no expectations of what I may come across when I wander with my camera. What I do look for is the unexpected, the juxtapositions of life, and things people see every day but may not stop to look at or admire.

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I asked John some questions about his art.

Christine (Gallery): What has drawn you to photography as an art form?

John: I was first introduced to photography while in college, and it became a medium that allowed me to express myself outside of interior architecture and design. I love the ability of photography to record an instantaneous moment, for me to be able to present it, and for the viewer to make judgments about what was going on in the particular moment that my photo represents.

Christine: How would you describe your photographic style? What draws you to your particular style of art?

John: I tend to think of my work as “strongly composed.” I would like the subject matter to be secondary to the composition of the work. I try to arrange the elements of the composition to get the viewer drawn into the photo, and then for the viewer to analyze the emotion of the subject matter. What draws me to that style? I have spent years working with two-dimensional compositions, which are then translated into the third dimension through architecture and interior design. I frame a photograph much like I would layout any design I work on, with the result being a well-organized composition with an underlying emotional component.

Christine: What are you seeking to express through your art?

John: I am trying to express this thought: “slow down and look around.” There are so many things we pass in our everyday life that we rarely pay attention to, yet they are there. It is difficult these days to move slowly through space. Everyone is in a hurry, and it is nearly impossible to see everything around you, much less take the time to freeze an image in your brain and remember it. I try to do that with my photographs, and then let the viewers interpret it for themselves.

Christine: What is the inspiration for your subjects? What inspired the subjects of the pieces in the Dwellings exhibition?

John: The inspiration for my subjects is all around me. I never know what it may be. I look for things that are interesting, that don’t seem quite right, that are funny, or that are emotional. The majority of the subjects in the Dwellings exhibition are a result of my work as an interior designer, documenting projects I have worked on. I always try to capture well-planned compositions no matter what the subject matter is or the reason for the photo being taken. There is an emotional undercurrent in all of the Dwellings photos, and it is for the viewer to interpret.

Christine: How do you practice photography? Is your camera always with you, or do you set out on photographic trips? Does this influence your art?

John: I go through phases with my camera. I may go weeks without thinking of taking pictures, as I am involved in many other projects, which usually run concurrently. Other times I will carry the camera everywhere I go. A lot of it depends on where I am going and the time of day and my attitude that day. I don’t let the camera pressure me into going out to shoot. When it feels right, it happens.

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John Luesing has eight photographs in the Dwellings show. For purchase information, please contact Christine Cote by email or by phone at 207 837-5760.

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Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
June 2, 2009


Friday, June 19, 2009

Call for Entries: Autumnal Tints

I believe that all leaves, even grasses and mosses, acquire brighter colors just before their fall. When you come to observe faithfully the changes of each humblest plant, you find that each has, sooner or later, its peculiar autumnal tint. --Henry David Thoreau
I have always loved Thoreau's writings. I can get lost in his work. Sometimes when I read Thoreau, I land on a particular sentence or paragraph and am not able to move on because I am so captivated by what I am reading. It speaks to me with complete clarity. It stops me in my tracks. It may even cause a pause in my breathing. What I just read is so right, such a good fit, that I have to stop and just feel it in my bones for a moment.

When I came upon the above passage from Thoreau's essay Autumnal Tints, I realized it had presented me with a wonderful idea for an art show. Colors...tints...autumnal tints...how very art-sounding. And so we'll have a show! Autumnal Tints will open August 31 and close November 8, 2009. The show, however, is not solely about a time of year, even though it is happening in the autumn of the year. The show is about color! Autumnal colors! And there are many! They can be fiery, rich, passionate, golden. They can also be warm, soothing, calming, subtle. How do you see autumnal tints?

I am very excited about this exhibition. The Gallery is now accepting submissions. Look here for the prospectus and entry form.

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Christine Brooks Cote
June 19, 2009
Still Point Art Gallery


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dwellings Opens Its Doors - June 22 - August 30, 2009

Still Point Art Gallery's second exhibition for 2009 - Dwellings - opened today and continues through August 30. Through paintings, photographs, three-dimensional art, and digital art, the exhibition illustrates the impact of style, culture, geography, and economics upon the structures and the surroundings in which we live. We may live in a city, the country, or the suburbs...in a mud house, high in a city penthouse, or on a sidewalk. Wherever we settle ourselves, be it for a lifetime or a single night, our dwellings are important to us for so many reasons. They are our refuge, our source of pride and pleasure, and a place we often share with people we love. Over time our dwellings come to contain stories, and it seems to me that this is what makes them such a worthy subject for artists. Listen to the stories being told by these structures...


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Christine Cote
Still Point Art Gallery

June 22, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rae Broyles Named Artist of Distinction in Dwellings Exhibition

Rae Broyles has three magnificent pieces in the Dwellings show at Still Point Art Gallery, which opened June 22, 2009. For this reason she was named an Artist of Distinction and will show more of her art during 2010. Her pieces in the Dwellings exhibition are of houses, seemingly old houses, and are titled Ancient Thoughts, Pink House, and Desolation. The houses are painted to appear structurally sound, and they stand tall and proud within their framed boundaries. The apparent strength of the houses is enhanced by the bold colors of these pieces - green and orange skies, a magenta roof, purplish siding on one of the houses. These old houses demand attention. These old houses wear their years well.



Rae Broyles studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and The Academy of Art in Chicago. Born in Chicago, Rae has lived and participated in workshops throughout the country and in the South of France at Moulin de Perot. She has enjoyed a long career in graphic design, marketing and creative direction and has recently completely rededicated herself to painting.

Painting has been in Rae's family for many generations. Her father was a student of Norman Rockwell, and the family can trace its roots back to the sixteen-century Danish painter Jens Juel. Rae currently lives in Roswell, Georgia with her husband, Matthew, and two children, Britta and Kristof.

Rae says about her art:
My art is my energy. It is truly a sensual and stimulating experience when I create each piece. There is nothing else that makes me feel the way I do when I paint. I have a physical burst of adrenaline, endorphins, fear and pride combined.

Born to a long line of painters, I have felt the intense urge to create since childhood. There have been many times in life, however, when I have had to temper the flow of creativity to adapt to the world around me. I spent twenty years in the world of marketing and design, creating with a distinct purpose and numerous limitations. As I have matured in my art, this is no longer fulfilling the passion I need and I am now fully experiencing the depth and intensity of my artistic passions.

Encaustic painting has allowed me to indulge my fascination with the dimensional while adding a complex variety of elements and depth to the colors I work with. Oils keep me grounded in the process and technique that remains of utmost importance to me.

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I asked Rae a few questions about her art:

Christine (Gallery): How would you describe your style? What draws you to your particular style of art?

Rae: I am always trying to create something new or re-purposed with an element of uniqueness. I have a hard time staying within the boundaries of landscape, portrait or still life, but at the same time, I have no desire to shock my audience into viewing my work through
subject matter. A pleasant and/or unusual color palette, loose brush strokes and interesting mediums and surfaces are a constant in my work.

Christine: What are you seeking to express through your art?

Rae: Painting is not so much an expression of "something" for me. It is a need and passion I fulfill within myself. If I can please the audience, it's icing on the cake.

Christine: What is the inspiration for your subjects...what inspired the subjects of the pieces in the Dwellings exhibition?

Rae: My images of deserted dwellings are an homage to the past and all the flurry of activity that once resided within them. The pop art type solarization of the images brings them new life and creates an eerie contrast to the dim reality that these types of dwellings are nearly extinct. I re-purpose them into a modern artwork so their architectural beauty will live on.

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Desolation, Pink House, and Ancient Thoughts are Photo Encaustics, each 18" x 18", and each available from Still Point Art Gallery for $450. Contact Christine Cote by email or by phone (207.837.5760).

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Christine Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
June 22, 2009



Monday, June 15, 2009

Final Week for Still Point I


This is the final week for Still Point I. After this week, images in this exhibition will move to another location on our website; they will still be available for viewing and will still be for sale, but the show will no longer be featured.


During the past several weeks, I've written about many of the images in the show and how they relate to the theme of this show...the theme being: those things that artists choose, through their art, to hold still. In the show, there are landscapes, portraits, still life pieces, and abstracts. There are pieces in which fast action is made to stand still and pieces in which stillness is part of the subject being painted.

With the obvious exceptions of "moving pictures" and theater, most visual art involves holding something still...be it a representational object or a non-representational thought or idea. That is the nature of creating art. But I'm not sure that artists think of their art in this way very often. I hope that this show created the opportunity to think, for a moment, about art in this way - as a way of holding something still...creating stillness. One can never have too many ways to think about something...to think about art. It generates yet another way to be inspired.

Thank you to all the Still Point I artists! Thank you to everyone who viewed and enjoyed the art!



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Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
June 15, 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009

This Week's Featured Art Work - May 31, 2009

This week's featured art work is a piece by Robin Borland, an Artist of Distinction in the Still Point I show. The featured piece is A Day at the Races.

What first drew me to this painting, and to Robin's work generally, were the colors - bold and strong, even a bit spicy. The same can be said of Robin's technique. Her brushstroke shows strength, and the way each brushstroke and each application of color builds the composition exudes a feeling of artistic confidence and power. Robin's paintings are not timid and subtle. Rather, to the viewer these paintings reveal an artist with a passion and zest for life.

From the title of this piece, A Day at the Races, we assume that the three women in this painting have taken the day off from their usual activities to enjoy a day with each other at the racetrack. Their sleeveless dresses and big hats suggest that it is a warm summer day - a day of leisure. The woman on the far left is holding a martini glass. The woman in the middle is smiling and pointing, seeming to be saying something to the woman on the right. It is very interesting that all three women are looking off to the side at something that does not appear in the painting. This adds an important element to this piece for a couple of reasons. First, the viewer cannot help but notice the women's eyes; all three pair of big brown eyes look off to the viewer's right. This would be a very different piece if all eyes were not looking in the same direction. Second, what are they looking at? Presumably, they are looking at whatever the middle woman is pointing at. Is it a particular horse in the race? Are they looking at something happening down on the track? Are they looking at some particularly handsome man sitting in the stands? Perhaps they're looking at another woman's strange outfit or hat or hairdo. We don't know. We will never know. We can only imagine. This inability to know all that is happening in this painting combined with its boldness and strength of color and style make this a fascinating piece to read and enjoy.

A Day at the Races is an oil on canvas painting, 38" by 26", available from Still Point Art Gallery for $1000. Contact Christine Cote by email or by phone 207.837.5760. Robin currently has two additional pieces in the Gallery - Somewhere Else I'd Rather Be and Girls Night Out.

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Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
May 31, 2009