This past fall the gallery hosted a tribute to the late Tom Buechner, who passed away earlier in the year. The exhibit featured work from many of his students and painting companions, each of who provided a short essay about their time spent with Tom. We are trying to run the entire series of essays here on this blog and will continue until the end of this year.
Today we feature an essay from Marty Poole.
Tom was lots of things to lots of people. There is enough of Tom’s life to fill a few of these books—museum work, being in business, writings, and of course, his various and partly crazy projects (too many to list). My favorite version of Tom is the slightly cranky optimist who resolutely dragged his paintbox out into all kinds of terrain and made a zillion sketches of the great outdoors, even though he would really have liked to be in the studio, opera blasting, bathed in cigar smoke.
He had it figured out, too. He would back the paintmobile (his van with the seats removed) up to a view, open the hatch (opera blazing over the van’s stereo) and set up. Add coffee and a two dollar cigar and he was happy as a clam.
Of course, you don’t always get what you want, and sometimes you have to lug your junk away from the road and carry your slender comforts into the unforgiving jaws of Mother Nature, to be chewed upon until martini time. We were in the Adirondacks * once, set up by a small river and hard at work. Everything seemed to be running smoothly until I hear behind me the sounds of muffled, seething outrage. I turn, and there is Tom, hunched over his palette, mixing colors furiously, surrounded by butterflies. Hundreds of them. He is swearing, trying to paint, they are all over his hat, his box, on the palette itself, on his brush, in a cloud around his head. Every few minutes he’d rear back and rake through the bastards with his painting knife, but it was no use.
So that was Tom, too. Not always a perfect fit, but always ready to give it a shot. And lots of nice surprises came to light, lots of good work, and lots of martinis earned. A good life.
Two new exhibits open tonight, July 22nd, at the West End Gallery. In the Main Gallery is New Days from GC Myers, a group of new work in his 10th annual show here. In the Upstairs Gallery, an exhibit also opens called Four Views which features four of the most popular gallery artists- Tom Gardner, Marty Poole, Dustin Boutwell and the late Tom Buechner– all working from the same reference photos. Each artist submitted two of their own photos with an additional two photos submitted by artist Wilson Ong who was not able to take part. The result is four differing views of the ten photos, all painted in the artists’ own distinct styles.
In one example, one of the photos (shown above), Parts, is a still life featuring auto parts on a bench. Each artist then worked on a still that remains faithful to the photo yet emphasizes their individual styles and techniques. Each version is similar yet very different.
In the first example, Tom Buechner, working on his last group of work before his death this past June, chose to imbue the canvas with light, giving the parts a clarity of atmosphere. The composition is faithful to the reference photo but it takes on a feel that is all its own.
Tom Gardner took the photo and added an element, a photo that is actually another of the reference photos. This addition, along with the compression of the space in his version and a slightly darker tone, changes the whole feel of the scene, adding a sense of it being a personal space. The bench scene becomes an extension of Gardner’s personality.
In Marty Poole’s version, the artist adds an ethereal light from above that gives the parts an otherworldly glow. He masterfully adds, with his handling of paint and light, a real sense of mystery to what might be considered the mundane.
In his version of this photo, Dustin Boutwell turns to a hyper-realistic view. It is sharp and clean and a real tour-de-force in his handling of the paint and the subject, giving it the feel of the grand still lifes of the 1800’s.
As you can see, each artist adds something of their own to their own views of the subject, making this a great exploration of how artists translate their influences. It is not a show to miss. Stop in and spend some time with these four masters of paint.
This Thursday, July 22, marks the opening of New Days, my annual solo exhibition of new work at the West End Gallery in Corning. I have shown my work at the gallery for over 15 years and this is my tenth solo effort there. Feeling that the tenth show is sort of a milestone, I wanted to present the gallery with a show that really represented the full scope of my work over that timespan. I wanted to have much of the imagery that I’ve featured over the years– the Red Tree, the Red Chair and the Red Roofs, for instance– plus a few new twists.
Probably the most evident new twist is a small group of pieces that feature works on paper done in monochromatic shades of black, white and gray. I basically wanted to take color out of the equation and focus on the design aspect of the work, letting other elements in the work carry the weight of the expression. Elements like line and shading take the place of the deep colors that have been part of my work for some time, giving the work a different feel even though the imagery is very much mine. The best aanalogy I can give for this work is that it’s like a song that you know so well, played by one artist in one way. Then one day, you hear a version of that song played in a very different manner and the song becomes something different. Something new.
Same song. Same tune. Same lyrics.
Just played in a different way.
That’s how I see this group of work. The absence of color, for the most part, gives the pieces a feeling of spareness. As though all emotions aside from that of the main gist of the piece have been pared away, bringing the main emotional point of the painting into sharp focus. The bits of color that are used seem to pop on the surface with more force, no longer having to outshine other colors on the surface.
The contrast pushes their prominence even further out in front, giving no doubt where the focus in each piece lays.
Thematically, I wanted this show to be an optimistic one. I think for the most part, the feel from the pieces is forward looking. There is a feeling in many of them of having persevered and beginning to look ahead to the new day, which always holds the potential and promise of better things to come.
Overall, I think this is a very diverse show for me with many contrasts and in color and textures. It says what I hoped it would and I think it holds together well on the gallery walls.
Many thanks go out to Linda, Hedy and Bridget for their always kind encouragement. If you get the chance, please stop out at the opening this Thursday which runs from 5-7:30 PM at the West End Gallery on Market Street in Corning. You don’t want to miss the exhibit in the Upstairs Gallery featuring painters Tom Buechner, Tom Gardner, Marty Poole and Dustin Boutwell all presenting works based on the same reference photos. Really, really interesting work and a chance to see some of the late Tom Buechner’s last work.
Hope to see you there!
—–Posted by Gary Myers—-
Look for West End Gallery artist Dustin Boutwell in this month’s issue of the online magazine, POETSandARTISTS. There is a wonderful spread featuring a question and answer session with Dustin as well as some inside info on some of his unique signature pieces. It starts on page 64 which you can scroll to on the bottom of the page. It’s a great look at the work of one of the most talented painters to emerge from this area. Don’t miss it!
And to see more of Dustin’s new work, stop in starting July 22 at the West End Gallery. Dustin is one of the four artists in the Upstairs Showcase, Four Views. In this exhibit four of the gallery’s top artists- Dustin Boutwell, the late Tom Buechner, fresh off his recent solo show Marty Poole and Tom Gardner– each do their own interpretation of 2 photos submitted by each artist plus two from another artist not participating in the exhibit. So, there are ten photos with four differing versions of each. It should be a most interesting show! Must see!
Congratulations, Dustin, on the great article and on the great work!
Just a quick reminder that we are nearing the point where there is only one week left for you to come into the gallery to see the beautiful exhibit of paintings from the renowned Marty Poole. Titled Solitaire, this is a show you will regret missing. Poole’s use of bold, deep color as well as subtle shifts in light give these works great power and depth, capturing the essence that the artist caught in his statement for the show:
A person who knows solitude – sometimes by choice, sometimes by chance.
A card game you play when you’re by yourself, or when you want to be.
A precious stone, carefully cut and most beautiful when seen on its own.
It is often easier to see things more clearly and know life a little better when we don’t feel compelled to react. Solitude allows us this quiet. This is also very close to what happens when an art form takes us over.
In our lives we are all nudged toward many different truths – in our solitary moments the dust can settle, we can breathe again, and we can take one of those quiet steps toward clarity.
Solitaire hangs until July 16th at the West End Gallery.
This past week saw the opening of the latest group of work from ultra-talented Marty Poole. Titled Solitaire, the show opened Thursday, June 17, at the West End Gallery with a well attended opening. Many of Marty’s many collectors mingled before a stunning new collection of oil paintings that display the incredible scope of Marty’s mastery over the medium as well his unique eye for color and composition.
Solitaire features many of Marty’s strong features including his trademark epic landscapes with their soaring, immense skies and and wide, endless horizons that give the paintings a sense of the ethereal. There also examples of his still lifes that are wonderful combinations of forms and color that imbue the mundane with emotion, as well as a number of his figurative pieces. There is also a group of paintings that portray scenes from Poole’s travels, capturing ancient vistas in his unique style.