bastille day exhibit: after,

Works by Gisèle Mac harg.

Opening: Sunday, July 14, 2pm to 7pm.

Each year on Bastille Day we host an exhibition by an artist new to us that we think deserves a wider audience.  Fate, it seems, puts them in our path.   This year we feature Gisèle Mac Harg from South Royalton, Vermont. Gisèle was born in a small French village not far from Chartres. Her childhood was a world of expansive fields, skies, nature, farm animals, and a loving family in which women created beauty through knitting, tailoring, and embroidery. At the age of 13, her father, a grain farmer, took her to the Louvre to introduce her to artists he admired—Delacroix, Monet, and Millet, to name a few. “In this moment,” she writes, “was born my love for beauty.” Gisèle grew up to teach foreign languages in Vermont for 38 years. As she neared retirement, pondering what to do next, memories of family life and her love of art converged into a new interest, hooking. Possibilities for what she could accomplish evolved over time: “Hooking became another form of painting, expressing myself with shapes and colors, arranging them in pleasing or dramatic ways to capture a moment, record a feeling, immortalize an emotion, or ask a question.” Learning about color took her work to another level. “To boiling water with a bit of white vinegar, I added “giving” pieces to impart color and “receiving” pieces to absorb. Plant materials produced various effects—beet juice offered up a mustard hue; nettles resembled honey. Blacks were unpredictable, sometimes violet, blue, grey, or green. Some results exceeded my expectations. Others fell short. None could be duplicated. It is the mystery of each strand in each piece.” Color is at the heart of her work, and like all good artists she continues to grow: “I’m always learning. Each piece teaches me a new lesson.” We have entitled this exhibit After, a straightforward way of acknowledging that these works are inspired by familiar paintings of fields, children playing, people working, and mothers caring for children that have spoken to Gisèle in a spiritual, personal way. Having internalized a painting, Gisèle feels her way through a creative process, hoping to connect to dreams, memories, and ideas, like motherhood and love. Subjects are edited to suit her medium, then surrounded by patterns and colors unique to each piece. Her work is direct, without pretension. “Viewers will see what they see,” writes Gisèle. “Hopefully they will be moved by the harmony of color or be captivated by the borrowed idea, like a beautiful song. I certainly hope that each work takes them on a voyage to nourish a dream or invoke their own private memories, pleasures, and emotions.”

Below Gisèle’s work are available pieces from past Bastille Day artists: Maurice Morel, André-Marie Ricoux, and Paul Inglis.

Maurice Morel (1908-1991), an art critic and priest, moved to Paris in 1927, where he met the poet Max Jacob, who encouraged him in his creativity and introduced him to writers, artists, painters, and poets, including Braque, Picasso, Rouault, and Matisse.  In 1933 he helped organize the first exhibition of modern religious art at the Lucy Krough Gallery. During the day Morel was a priest.  At night, as a form of meditation, he created paintings. He experimented with mediums and papers. Morel once said, “I paint by a requirement as indispensable to my spiritual life as sleep and exercise are to my physical life.”

André-Marie Ricoux studied with Jean Bertholle at L’École des Beaux Arts in Paris. He approaches the landscape of Normandy informed by Daoist principles such as Empty Space and Qi, with a vision of the abstract, allowing open space to suggest reality. Olivier Rasimi, a novelist, sees an influence of Hercle Seghers, William Turner, or Zao Wou Ki, writing, “From which west, or which east, or which dawn or dusk are they drawn? In these desolate wild places human beings are absent. Out of chaos comes natural order, and we find ourselves in a place where light and color unify, leading us to a greater introspection and finally to a deeper state of satisfaction.”

About Paul Inglis’ paintings of Boston bridges, John O’Brien, a colleague and fellow artist, writes, “Reflected in the work is a resoluteness of inquiry that insists that this little corner of the world is worth seeing again and again. These paintings are about bridges as much as Morandi’s paintings are about bottles. The bridge is a point of entry into a world of seeing, a metaphor. The painter’s brush a conduit linking the act of looking with the culminating act of painting.”