Red Ochre Gallery features versatile group

Joan Sullivan
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“Starry Night, St. John’s” by Brenda McClellan. — Submitted photo

There is a challenge to reviewing a group exhibition which is neither anchored by theme nor linked to a small gathering of artists — which is not, in fact, even rooted in time, as this ongoing show will evolve from now until the end of the year, with pieces moving off the walls and others appearing in their place.

The only requirements asked of the visual artists were to offer something col-ourful and spirited and new. They responded with abstract prints, resonant interiors, pristine still lifes, and stunning landscapes. So the temptation is to rush around citing this work and that artist, which wouldn’t compose much more than a kind of checklist. At the same time, there is so much lovely work here worth noting. Take this, then, as a sampler.

Veselina Tomova’s mixed media pieces include “Brigus — Harbour Pond” and “Brigus — Molly’s Island.” These are filled with her wheeling expressionist shapes and patterns, where the curl of a harbour becomes the circle of beach becomes the arc of a dory, the rhythms echoing in the wings and beaks of intelligent seagulls and perked heads of alert muskox. The works beat with motifs and prints in a circle of an eye, backdrop of saltbox houses, or a triangle of feather. And if you are wondering about the muskox, Tomova has done her homework. Capt. Bob Bartlett introduced the creatures to Molly’s Island.

Elena Popova’s monotype, “On the River Bank,” pulses and arrays itself with vivid tones and an iconography of emotionally-generated geometry. Nearby is Jennifer Morgan’s “Postcard From Spaniard’s Bay” (acrylic on canvas), with a view of a room, the wallpaper layers ragged in a way suggestive of the strata of time and memory, and a washstand set on a wooden floor where the slats dissolve under the lacey sunlight slanting through the window. This is offset with squares of postcards, the writing and pictures an underscoring narrative that still has some trajectory in this space.

There are two small poised still lifes by David Baltzer, “Peeled Lemon,” and “Wood Bowl with Japanese Pears” (both oil on canvas), and Sheila Hollander has “Water Street Merchants,” one of her acrylic on canvas paintings, meticulously researched and naively executed, every detail of window-framed stock and sidewalk activity apt and presented with her deceptive simplicity.

There are three works by George Horan, including “Millpond in Autumn,” a watercolour showing beautiful brushwork, with swift delineations of flowing water and standing spare trees in burnished colours, uplifted with nice breaths of white space, and, unusual for Horan, an oil on canvas called “Atlantic Hawk.” This shows a coast guard vessel, docked on the north side of the harbour, and it is unexpected and bright and fun.

Elsewhere in the gallery, Natalia Charapova has her luscious oils, Brenda McClellan her colour-spinning streetscapes, and Frank Lapointe two fluent watercolours. Vadim Vaskovsky’s oil paintings include “Strawberry Hill,” a striking height of field and trees rendered with an impressionistic precision that is almost pointillism, and a serene portrait, “Martine.” Ilse Hughes and Jessica Levman also have figure studies, with the former’s “Blue Nude” (acrylic on canvas) done in a striking colour play of blue and green, and the latter’s “Shadow” (mixed media) a rich interpretation of form on form. 

“Winter’s Eve — The Warmth of Fine Art” continues at the Red Ochre Gallery throughout the season.

Organizations: River Bank, Red Ochre Gallery

Geographic location: Red Ochre, Strawberry Hill

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