Three Artists For August -August 2011
by: Lindsay Pykosz
Before long-time Nantucket resident and artist John Devaney begins a new work, he first takes a careful look at his surroundings and then paints from a point of view that may be overlooked by some.
Over the years, his inspiration has changed from underwater figures and mythological scenes to cityscapes and landscapes, and this month, he will be opening a show at Robert Foster Fine Art at 8 India St. that will be a culmination of themes he has gravitated toward for as long as he can remember.
“I lived and painted in Cambridge, Massachusetts for at least 20 years, and painted mostly swimming figures, and they were sometimes mythological and allegorical and sometimes they were realistic, and coming to Nantucket in the summers, I began painting more of what’s around me,” said Devaney, who came to Nantucket in 1991 to work on theater productions. “But I think I kept the same interest in the figure. Movement and gesture have always been big things. I did change some things when I came to Nantucket and had a breakthrough in terms of taking in more of what my environment was like.”
Devaney said this same interest in the figure was present throughout the work he created in New York City as well, where he incorporated many aspects of the city that never sleeps: The architecture, busy streets and natural environment of Central Park.
Now, Devaney said it seems as though these themes have seemed to merge, which is an important aspect to his upcoming show, which opens Aug. 5.
“What I would say is it seems as if themes have re-emerged so that I have probably painted one auction painting every year for the past 10 years, and I’m going to have an auction painting in this show. I painted ferries maybe one or two a year for many years – that’s kind of been a re-emerging thing. I’ve done beach scenes, but rather than in one year do 10 beach scenes, what typically happens is things that I really come to love really keep re-emerging and it’s sort of a repertoire.”
Devaney’s show will include two paintings of auctions, a painting of an art opening and another called “Picnic of the Gods,” a beach scene. While those are his most recent ones, he will also be including some New York scenes that were completed in the last two years.
“The ‘Gods’ piece is a bunch of Greek gods at the beach,” he said. “And even that’s sort of, I haven’t done exactly that before, but I’ve done other pieces like that of groups at the beach.”
After taking a summer hiatus from showing his work last year, Devaney said he is excited for his new show and has recently been more motivated because of it.
“Its always been kind of a conundrum to me,” he said. “I get motivated by the fact of having a show, and that’s kind of a different intensity of work. I don’t know if it’s more creative or more prolific, but I do try to keep the nose to the grindstone right through the year.”
Devaney’s work also hangs at Nantucket Memorial Airport, the Artists Association of Nantucket and at the Methodist Church. After his week-long show at the Foster gallery, his pieces will remain on the second floor for those who would like to view them after the show closes.
An opening reception for Devaney’s show will be held from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 at Robert Foster Fine Art, 8 India St., next door to Black Eyed Susan’s. For more information, visit johndevaney.com or call (508) 221-3056.
Joan Albaugh’s love for art extends far beyond the 17 years she’s lived on Nantucket, her time at art school in Boston and the nearly 21 years since her son was born. Known for her paintings of window-less houses where details are often obscured through a focus of light and color, Albaugh is gearing up for another show this month at the Old Spouter Gallery on Orange Street.
The show will be a mixture of her signature houses found throughout Nantucket, of her son snorkeling when he was about 8 years old, of landscapes and lighthouses she’s encountered in her travels.
“I travel a lot, and sometimes I do a series of houses from my trips – whether it’s Greenland or Newfoundland – and these places all tend to have the same kind of houses, simple houses,” Albaugh said. “I kind of like the dormers. They almost tend to act like the eyes of the house.”
Albaugh, who often explores the island on foot, takes a camera along whenever she’s feeling inspired. A couple snaps here and a few snaps there and before she knows it, she has a series of photos to sift through in order to fine the right one, or ones, to paint.
“Especially here on Nantucket, you have your route you know and you like it and you kind of pass by the same house,” she said. “I’ll pass by one and say, ‘Man, I really like that house. I’ve already painted it once and it was a big flop but I’m going to try again.’ You realize which houses give you trouble.”
Albaugh’s love for painting houses began the first year she lived on the island, when she stayed in her mother’s summer house in Tom Nevers. The theme has always struck a chord with her, and she said she found work she completed when she was 20 in college that was a more simplified version of what she works on now.
“Once I moved here, I first lived in Tom Nevers and there was this really striking light that I would see off my deck,” she said. “There’s a really dramatic light here in the off-season, and it was so strong, it kind of simplified the house and you didn’t see the windows. That’s how that all started.”
She added that she tends to find inspiration during all seasons on Nantucket, when the landscapes are really green, or when the weather is gloomy and the light is what she calls “dramatic and interesting.” But after many years of working on her house theme, Albaugh said she is ready to move on to something new after her week-long show wraps up. What she will focus on next she is unsure of, a “leaving the house behind” series, with road-scapes and small houses in the distance, perhaps.
“I’m still trying to really figure that out,” she said. “I might move toward some figures. There are certain images I have and I just might go to and paint those. There are figures on the beach that I want to do, figures in a landscape, from a safari I went on. There are a few things I just want to think about, and at this point in my life, I need to think about if there are things I want to go back and paint.”
An opening reception for Albaugh’s show will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 at the Old Spouter Gallery, 118 Orange St. For more infor- mation, visit http://www.joanalbaugh.com
When Judy Brust took a trip to Africa three years ago, she had no idea it would have such an influence on her that has lasted to this day. The trip inspired her to create a series of monoprints, the “Africa Series,” that serve as a constant reminder of the life-changing experience she had.
After closing her Gallery Blue location on Old South Wharf last year, Brust began looking for a new place to feature her work, and has since become a guest artist at Kathleen Knight’s Gallery at 35 Main Street. Brust has her own second-floor room where she will be featuring a new series – more of a life-cycle series that pulls from her African voyage – opening Friday, Aug. 5.
“This series will be dealing more with passage,” Brust said. “The bigger piece (‘Creation’) comes from my visit to a crater in Tanzania, and the feelings I had about the animals. It was like peace. Just incredible peacefulness. The animals, all different kinds – the lions, the zebras, all of them meandering around together – just seemed so strange. There were no fences, they could move in and out of the crater. They come and they don’t bother each other unless they’re hun- gry. I was taking what I was seeing and applying it to people and asking why can’t people be more like this? This sense of balance, just incredible balance. It was fabulous.”
One piece in particular, “Africa Rising,” is a new, blue piece that features ghostly animals.
“Part of the show that I’m going to put up is connected to the African series in that it still has the animals, but they’re very ghostly. They’re very much like ghosts,” Brust said. “But there will be different pieces. It will be a little bit of a departure for the style or the way it looks.”
The pieces hanging in the new gallery are a mixture of newer and older pieces that represent different series that Brust has completed. One, with a red circle as the focal point, is titled “Balance and Tranquility,” and stems from a series she worked on after her African one.
“This red-ball one was done after the African Series, and it also reflects back onto my Mind’s Eye Series, which was mostly orbs and circles, and I did that series probably 10 years ago, and this is back to that circle again,” Brust said.
Known for her large (four-by-eight-foot) monoprints, Brust said she has started to become more realistic about the size of the work she creates, as many simply cannot fit larger prints in their homes.
“I have to do a variety of sizes because I can’t even put them in my own home because they’re so big,” she said. “I didn’t realize how big they were until I started trying to find a place, and if I wanted to put a piece in a particular place, I thought, ‘Well, geez, that doesn’t fit.’ But I do prefer to work in that (larger) size.”
Brust added that she will continue to work with Knight, rotating pieces through the gallery throughout the season. She is still very much involved in Gallery Blue, and has relocated the business to her home on Eel Point Road, where both of her studios are also located: A newer one in her garage, and the original one in the basement of the home she has shared with her husband since 1995.
“In the meantime, I’ll be switching work in and out with Kathleen and I will make myself available,” she said. “I’m going to be here in the gallery part of every day, and people can reach me at the gallery number if they want to talk to me, or they can make an appointment to meet me at my studio.”
An opening reception for Brust’s show will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 at The Gallery at 35 Main Street. For more information, visit http://www.galleryblue.com or call (508) 228-8509.