Friday, May 25, 2007

A Dialogue with Childe Hassam

This summer, the gallery will be exhibiting paintings by New York artist Katherine Gray, featuring watercolors painted en plain air on Appledore Island, Maine, the largest of the Isles of Shoals. The paintings of Childe Hassam were a great inspiration to Katherine, "When I sat upon a rock, painting, I sensed his presence and wondered if perhaps he sat upon that very rock".

Childe Hassam (1859 - 1935) was the premier Impressionist painter of New York City. During his time in the Big Apple, Hassam made summer painting excursions to the home of his friend, Celia Thaxter, on Appledore Island. Hassam's many portrayals of the old-fashioned gardens, rocky coast, and radiant sunlight of the island, are among his most cherished works.

Celia Thaxter (1835 -1894) presided over a coterie of artists, writers, and musicians who gathered there each summer. Thaxter was a poet and the magnificent garden she maintained was the subject of her most enduring work, An Island Garden, published the year of her death with watercolor illustrations by Hassam. Today, Celia Thaxter's cottage and garden are maintained for limited visitation on Appledore.

I often feel as though I should have been born in another time and place; envious of moments in history like this, or New York in the 1940's, and especially Paris at the turn of the century - oh how I would have loved to partake in discussions of art and politics in the salon of Gertrude Stein in the company of Picasso, Matisse, Earnest Hemingway and Apollinaire (to name a few)! In my own paintings I often look to the work of those artists of times past, to the places they have traveled, and to the works that inspired them. It is an ongoing dialogue between artists, be it romantic, I feel connected despite my appointed time and place in history.