The Marshes, by Joan Baldwin 

Joan Baldwin sought new visual territory in her most recent work on view this month at Kingston Gallery. The paintings in The Marshes have a heightened degree of abstraction in comparison to earlier works, with varied brushstrokes and atmospheric areas that appear misty.

The artist also remains true to her unique mode of surrealist expression. Familiar imagery has a twist-things aren’t quite as they seem. With at times a sense of humor, at other times hinting at dark realities that may exist amid conventional settings, the series delves into imagined scenes of wildlife on the Massachusetts shore. Visitors to the gallery this month will see ghostly apparitions of animals in otherwise unpopulated views of the wilderness and creatures living as though no human is watching. They skulk, they flirt, they hunt.

The coastal scenery is realized in sharp detail. Wild beach grasses swirl, their oblique movements accentuating each striking composition. The paintings evoke a sense of mystery that continues in the adjacent Center Gallery exhibition, forest primeval, by Ellen Solari.

Surrealism is in the air this season. Artsy published an article by Alexis Corral about Eight Female Surrealists this week. A terrific Artscope preview published in early May by Elizabeth Michelman describes Baldwin’s particular use of the style. Learn more about Joan Baldwin with with 2015 studio visit post and the press release. You can follow her on Instagram @joan_baldwin.

Kingston Gallery Hires Its First Director

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Kingston Gallery, an artist-run gallery in Boston’s SoWA district, is pleased to announce the hiring of Shana Dumont Garr as its first director.

Shana most recently was Director of Programs and Exhibitions at Artspace in Raleigh, North Carolina, a non-profit open studio environment for established and emerging artists and a center for hands-on arts education and nationally acclaimed exhibitions. As director of programs and exhibitions, Shana organized more than forty exhibitions per year, maintained and initiated educational programs for youth and adults, and collaborated with local organizations such as the North Carolina Museum of Art, HQ Raleigh, the Boys and Girls Club, and El Pueblo to create opportunities for local artists and to increase access to the visual arts for everyone, regardless of their background.

Garr earned her MA in Art History from Boston University and has over ten years of academic and commercial experience in the arts. Prior to her position at Artspace, Garr worked as the Assistant to the Director of the Ackland Art Museum at UNC Chapel Hill, and before that as the Assistant Director and Curator for the Montserrat College of Art Gallery and Visiting Artist Program in Beverly, MA. At Montserrat, she curated and organized exhibitions, designed and oversaw educational programs, and managed the visiting artist program.

“I am thrilled to work with this strong group of visual artists who support each other to play a vital role in the Boston arts community,” says Garr. “I look forward to not only furthering Kingston’s profile in this region, but also to supporting each member artist in reaching the next step of her or his own career. The gallery is doubly special because a combination of individual talent and cooperation among the group takes place in order for it to thrive as a professional exhibition space.”

 You can follow Garr on Instagram @shaygarmont or @kingstongallery and on Twitter @shanadumontgarr, and on Kingston Gallery’s blog, Thinking About Art Out Loud.

Appreciating Deborah Davidson

Two years ago, Deborah Davidson originated this Kingston Gallery blog, Thinking About Art Out Loud. At the end of February, she left her position at the gallery as we welcomed Shana Dumont Garr as our new director.

For those two years Deborah reflected on the work hanging on our gallery walls with thoughtfulness and insight, linking her observations to the work of other artists and to trends in the art world altogether. Month after month she widened the conversation while truly considering what each Kingston artist was saying in their work as it was presented. During her tenure, she organized events and curated our September 2013 members’ exhibition, Gifted. Behind the scenes, her publicity work with our member artists made it possible for us to take this next step in our evolution.

Deborah is a valued member of the greater Boston art community. She can be found spearheading Catalyst Conversations, putting together shows as an independent curator or as the gallery director at New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University, mentoring graduate art students at Lesley University, and engaging in her own studio practice. She will always be a friend to Kingston members and we appreciate her contributions to us and to the gallery.

The Rituals Surrounding Love

This is the final few days to see As Above, so Below, a series of photographs by Kathleen Gerdon Archer. The photos are the most warm, illuminated views of icy objects you could imagine, especially in light of our record-breakingly snowy February in Boston. If you’d like a way to embrace the frostiness surrounding us, then make your way to Kingston Gallery.

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This was my favorite. You MUST see it in person, as Kathy is clearly the photographer, and not me!

The photos are portraits of love, made in the most unexpected way. Archer suspends carefully selected items, including photographs of family members, in ice, and then systematically thaws and freezes them as she seeks the right views to photograph.The images become landscapes, and the objects mysterious, chromatic or textural mood-setters. The fields of smooth white made me think of paintings by Marilyn Minter, and the sense of crafted yet vast outdoor space recall photographs by Lori Kella.

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This is but a segment of the show-there’s another arrangement around the corner that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Archer’s process of collecting and then freezing the items together, one arrangement for each person or specific group of people close to her, is a ritual that honors and perhaps clarifies the nature of her attachments. She thinks of the freezing and thawing process each arrangement undergoes as using simple biology to transform how the collected items relate.

We associate ice and cold with remoteness, but when we shiver, it prompts closeness. We seek an embrace or even huddle with strangers at a bus stop. The shots in As Above, so Below are intense close-ups of objects, but they are obscured by the ice surrounding them, enabling Archer to use personal, specific means to share elegant and universal sentiments.

-Shana Dumont Garr, (brand new) Gallery Director

Scale!

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It is the scale of the works in Kathleen Gerdon Archer’s current exhibit  As Above so Below that is astonishing.

She submerges objects in ice and photographs as it melts; they reveal themselves in uncanny ways.

We are submerged in these spaces, we are inside these spaces, which are overwhelming, stunning.

Although they seem like manipulated images, they are not. Archer sets up the situation and context for “Nature” to divulge itself, an invented world made out of real materials.

The photographs float on the walls, not so much in dialogue, but rather ricocheting off each other.

The images are simultaneously geographical and personal.

We try to see what we are looking at – leaves, rocks, water, ice. It is as if we are examining the world under a gigantic microscope.

We are compelled by what we do not recognize. We are looking at stupendous moments stopped in time.

Go see this wonderful show, the exhibit runs through March 1.

Image: Kathleen Gerdon Archer, Between Sun and Geography, Polypropylene print mounted on 6 mil white Sintra behind 1/8th” plexiglas, 40 x 27 inches, 2014

Correspondence

Grant Drumheller

A Department of Makers, the current exhibit featuring the studio faculty at University of New Hampshire, fills all three galleries. This group of artists is held together by their commitment to teaching and the rigor they have for their respective practices. The exhibit, well curated by Mary Harding, resounds with a variety of mediums and ways of handling subject matter. As the viewer moves through the space, surrounded by this variety, resonances occur. As one encounters each work, a dialogue ensues. There is an overall connection between the artists and their works, even if the pieces are separated from one other. For example, when arriving at Rick Fox’s paintings in the back of the gallery, I am reminded of Jennifer Moses’ work in the front room. The gelatin silver prints by Michael Cardinale correspond to Ben Cairiens mixed media pieces and to Scott Schnef’s meticulous still-life prints.

The artists challenge themselves to discover new answers to these enduring questions: How do you find something new and unexpected using traditional techniques? How do you make the best use of size, of scale? How does the limitation of the support push an artist? The experience of each work in the exhibit had me returning repeatedly to earlier encounters, as well as appreciating the relationships created by works in closer conversation with each other. Each is a challenge, a problem solved.

Go see this wonderful show, the exhibit runs through February 1.

Image: Grant Drumheller, Museum with Helicopter, Cooler Version, Oil on Linen, 28 X 22 inches, 2014.