About spring

Joan Sullivan
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Washes of vibrant colour evoke birds, bees, flowers and trees, in Red Ochre's annual banishment of winter

Spring can be an iffy, even cruel, term in Newfoundland and Labrador. Your average horticultural lover definitely suffers. Hardy, sweet little tufts of crocuses will bloom, their promising clusters perhaps swamped by filthy chest-high snow banks or riven by a cycle of late-season storms. As for the hydrangeas, the black-eyed susans, the narcissi, the peonies, well, there is always July. Or August.

But the spring equinox does bring one floral feast. This is the annual "Colour of Spring" group exhibition at the Red Ochre Gallery. This year, 14 artists have contributed paintings, prints and mixed media works.

Spring can be an iffy, even cruel, term in Newfoundland and Labrador. Your average horticultural lover definitely suffers. Hardy, sweet little tufts of crocuses will bloom, their promising clusters perhaps swamped by filthy chest-high snow banks or riven by a cycle of late-season storms. As for the hydrangeas, the black-eyed susans, the narcissi, the peonies, well, there is always July. Or August.

But the spring equinox does bring one floral feast. This is the annual "Colour of Spring" group exhibition at the Red Ochre Gallery. This year, 14 artists have contributed paintings, prints and mixed media works.

This is a sumptuous show, with visual artists in tip-top form. The walls are filled with luscious foliage, in vases and gardens, cityscapes and pastures. Overall, the show is a visual antidote to the weather. More specifically, here are six notes:

No. 1. The show introduces some new artists. One, Sarah Fletcher, has "Tea" (watercolour), set out with a silver pot, a pair of green glass cups and saucers, a milk jug, and a double-handled sugar bowl, the vintage service displayed as composed and inviting. She also has a second watercolour, "Showering," of a clutch of wildflowers brilliant under an overcast sky. These are nicely done.

No. 2. "Solitude," by Brenda McClellan (oil on canvas, below), is an arresting work. I wasn't going to write about McClellan because I so often do, but over the past few years she has started using the paint differently; less blended curves and flat surfaces and more spikes and spirals, and her work is all the more powerful for it. This fair-sized painting conveys pitcher plants, stalks of grass and foliage, and bare tree limbs into a rich and entrancing damask scene of whorls and eddies of colour. The atmosphere is both familiar and hauntingly misty, the forms emerging in a subtle, precise light.

No. 3. "Asphalt Lover" by Terrence Howell (mixed media) sets an armadillo, dead on the road, with a black and white photograph of a girl in a white nightgown, and some deeply embossed words, which read in part "For my lo(...)." And it works, it balances, it channels his own psycho-visual oomph into a triptych that actually divides itself into thirds, with two thirds on the full-colour painting, and one third on the picture, set against red. Howell's juxtaposition of forms is always alert (if peculiar) and his colour sense pert and original.

No. 4. There are two mixed media pieces from Veselina Tomova, "About Bugs" and "About Birds" (left). They are arrangements of forms in a flat perspective, like field studies, doodles and sketches of cranes, ducks, dragonflies and caterpillars, some simply outlined, others in a full volume of line and colour. Many areas, such as a puffball dandelion halo, are full of delicate patterning, and the pieces have deftly contoured areas in darks and metallics and reds, purples and oranges. The configurations are entrancing and the works have lift and elegance.

No. 5. Two still lifes quietly brim with assurance. One, by Sheila Hollander, is titled "Saffron Bowl" (acrylic on canvas), showing a golden bowl decorated with a playful stylized motif of flowers, frontally and formally placed against a black background. The second is James Miller's "Morningside" (oil on canvas), of a bowl with green apples, a jug, a cup rimmed with gold, and two pale pink roses. The faint gleam of this painting, with its tactile porcelain and roses, is aglow with a soft, burnished bearing.

No. 6. Gerry Squires has a watercolour, "Pale Horse Running 2." Squires is another artist I end up writing about a lot, but with good reason. Every piece I see from him lately brings the viewer to a whole new level. This is an amazing piece, showing a white horse running through a green field. Everything is luminous, the brushstrokes slanted, the work full of light. It is as if it is seen refracted through green glass, with a focal point gone a little askew, and yet somehow all the more apt. The horse is both animal and messenger, on a spiritual errand and heading. Squires has said some of the inspiration for this piece (part of a series, and based on a real horse) came from others' works about the Apocalyptic Pale Horse, but he has taken his own turn here, and made something freeing, even blessed.

The exhibition also includes work from Ilse Hughes, Julia Pickard, Elena Popova and Jennifer Morgan, among others.

"The Colour of Spring" continues at the Red Ochre Gallery until April 12.

Organizations: Red Ochre Gallery

Geographic location: Red Ochre, Newfoundland and Labrador, Morningside

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments