More than a year ago, my painting exhibition, Live Streaming, was postponed due to the pandemic shutdown of New York City galleries. On September 7th those painted waterways finally started flowing in the city. Thirty-five paintings and drawings can now be seen at the Blue Mountain Gallery on 27th Street through October 2. What a relief to finally be able to share them. Although the Delta variant is making art-lovers more cautious and vaccinations are required to enter all galleries, the New York art scene is reviving. At the reception I am pictured (above) with “In Suspension,” which was featured in a previous Almanack article, Art in the Pandemic – Distraction, Solace and Direction.
Since a painting is basically a lot of artmarks on a flat surface, the sensation of live streaming has to come from manipulated rhythms, swooping lines and shapes coming in and out of focus and juxtaposition with things that are still. I have spent many years both enjoying and fretting over the process to create that energy and movement through illusionistic space.
Among the works in the show is a painting from the Hulls Falls bridge in Keene NY. Rather than paint the dramatic drop off downstream where kayakers were practicing their plunges, I focused on the upstream view where a sculptural set of boulders causes the Ausable River to split and then rejoin before dispersing dramatically over a drop off. I chose an angle with the water rushing forward along diagonal lines and then opening up into overlying semicircular curves. I described the water around the carved boulders with small well-defined shapes and where the water rushed onward I used large brushwork that lost definition to suggest fast movement. The curves and rhythms at the bottom edge work to pull your eye back into the space and the movement is continuous. The stranded narrow tree trunk and the still pool provide marvelous contrasts to the frenzied movement of the water. After another storm, two months later, the trunk was gone.
That painting and nine more in the exhibition are part of a larger project called Follow the Water, in which I am exploring the extremely varied visual qualities of the Ausable River watershed. A year ago, I became aware of the work of the Ausable River Association to protect the streams and lakes. Through their documentation I began to understand where the water I had been painting was coming from and where it was headed – from Mt Marcy and the Ausable Lakes all the way to Lake Champlain. I am in the process of assembling a body of past and current work that will help people visualize the many tributaries of the watershed and how they have inspired my artwork on and off over the last 40 years. The project is in the early stages of planning for exhibitions (virtual, actual, hybrid and in print) with the intention of drawing attention to the area and work being done by the river association. The current state of the project can be seen on my website.
Another section of the Ausable River, closer to the flume south of Wilmington, inspired “Ausable Twist” in which a large boulder redirects the water and is in turn carved by it. In it my non-traditional approach includes fragments of photography added to a digital collage of a plein air painting and a large monochrome drawing of the scene. The Photoshop image was then printed on canvas on which I kept painting until the twisting of both land, sky and water worked together. Within the water, painted details and photographic details intertwine at first and then become all paint. Except for the sharp delineation of trees, very little appears to stand still.
While all of the works in the exhibition are inspired by my interest in the constantly shifting world around me, some are more peaceful, such as lakeside sunsets from camping trips or padding adventures. For those who can’t visit the exhibition, the website for Blue Mountain Gallery includes a link to a video of the artworks, with closeup details of each piece.
The exhibition runs through Oct 2 at Blue Mountain Gallery, 547 West 27th Street, #200, New York, NY . Artist present on Saturdays.
List of images, in order of appearance:
Anne Diggory at the reception for her exhibition
“Resting Place, Hulls Falls” 18×24” acrylic on canvas
“Ausable Twist” 36×60” mixed media