Color, line and texture: this is the subtitle of Betwixt and Between, the current exhibition at Courthouse Gallery in Ellsworth, Maine, curated by Bruce Brown. At a panel discussion this past Thursday with artists Robin Mandel, Lois Dodd, and me, Brown spoke about his wish to present work that was off the beaten path – the beaten path being a familiar one, strewn with images of the Maine landscape like boulders in a blueberry barren (my words, not his). And while there are plenty of landscapes in this show, from the abstract to the very representational, there are also Henry Wolyniec’s digital ink prints, Joe Kievitt’s accumulations of ink lines, and texture in three dimensions by ceramicist George Perlman. Brown, who is Curator Emeritus at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, has long been instrumental in bringing new forms of art to the fore in Maine.
Line, color and texture are qualities which exist in every work of visual art, so it was interesting to hear Robin Mandel speak about his avoidance of color in the service of identifying an ideal and impersonal form. His steel sculptures are the uninflected-black contours of ordinary objects, such as boxes and grocery bags, in which “absence” of color serves to locate each object in its own Platonic shadow. By contrast, Lois Dodd builds her paintings out of color shapes which reference very specific subjects, and because she generally paints from life, she maintains a balance between local color (what’s actually out there) and the color relationships that will make a strong painting. I was on the panel as the texture person, even though texture for me is not so much intentional as it is the random by-product of building up layered encrustations of paint. Hence I am indebted to Bruce for pointing out that perhaps this kind of texture has its correlation in what I too am looking at, the very real accumulations outside my studio. Granite, clay, gravel, and, right now, the endless weeds of summer inform the invented line, color and especially texture, of my abstract paintings.
The show – with a selection from each artist - can be seen online in the catalog. The exhibition is up through July 30.