Capturing the moment; Watercolor artist thinks outside the studio.
COLUMN: ARTS WATCH
Artist Jeremiah Patterson's show at Anna Maria College is definitely not a photography exhibition.
Patterson, who is nationally known for his still lifes, readily admits that he is not a good photographer. But out of that photophobia a new talent has developed. Patterson, a frequent traveler, has mastered the art of plein air watercolor painting, carrying his watercolor set with him on his journeys the way others pack a camera, capturing the moment on paper rather than film or its digital equivalent. His Anna Maria show, "Memoirs of Place," is an exhibition of about 30 landscapes painted in the south of France, Sicily and other parts of Italy. The show runs through April 21 at the Art Center Gallery at Miriam Hall at the college. Patterson will present an artist's talk and demonstration there tomorrow afternoon.
Patterson received his B.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is an assistant professor of art at the University of Hartford's Hartford Art School. He is represented by the Sherry French Gallery in New York City, William Baczek Fine Arts in Northampton and the Clark House Gallery in Bangor, Maine. His work has been featured in various publications including American Artist magazine
During his many travels over the past 12 years, Patterson, 35, of Deerfield, has done landscapes mainly for his own artistic growth and also to get a break from his much more tightly controlled studio work.
"It's almost like a release, a chance for me to really paint for the sake of painting and approach watercolor in a different way," Patterson said. This is the first time the resulting landscapes have been exhibited.
It was a trip to Mexico that first got him thinking outside the studio.
"I was in college and there was a course at UMass that took people from the art department down to Mexico," he said. "They were doing travel photography and I was not a very good photographer at all and I confided that in the person teaching it." He told the teacher he would still like to go on the trip but would do a quick watercolor at each stop while the others clicked away with their cameras. "I think he was somewhat skeptical," Patterson said. "As a photographer he thought `How is this guy going to do watercolors' because the visits to the places were quick. But I just plugged away. He was surprised. He even bought one of the paintings when we got back.
"From that point on I really fell in love with the idea of painting in the landscape. I saw it as a way for me to just paint for the sake of painting. It was very laid back. If the painting didn't come out so good, it wouldn't bother me. I would just sit and work at these places and it was almost more about being there in that spot than it was about making something good."
Much good came of it, however.
"A good friend was in my studio about two years ago," Patterson said. "He's a painter too and he started looking around and he found the drawer in my flat file that was full of these landscapes and he was, like, `What are these?' and he started going through them and he just said `You've got to show these.'"
There were more than 100 paintings in that flat file. Show curator Diane Savino, a former adjunct professor of art at Anna Maria, helped him winnow it down to the 37 pieces that are in the show. The paintings are small, due largely to the time crunch inherent in the technique. Patterson has only and hour or two before the light changes or the scene before him changes in some significant way. One of a luminous alleyway in Teyssode, a tiny French village in the Pyrenees, measure just 4 inches by 6 inches, like a perfectly hand-painted postcard. The show's largest pieces are about 10 inches by 12 inches.
If doing on-the-spot watercolors seems daunting, Patterson still recommends art as a way of knowing new places in a more personal way.
"I tell people who have maybe done a little drawing in their lives and then they're about to travel to always take a little journal and do some drawing even if you don't feel you draw very well," he said. "When you draw something you really sort of own it in a different way, you have to look a lot harder at the subject and then I think that it really sinks in. With Tessoyde and some of these places, some of them I've been back to over 10 years and painted the same spot. Little changes happen over time but things stay the same, too, and you get to really know a place more over seeing it for a long time."
With France and Italy, it was love at first sight for Patterson. In the early 1980s his father, also an artist, took the family on a trip during a teaching sabbatical in Europe.
"It was kind of mindboggling," said Patterson, who was 16 at the time. "I was young and I just loved it. We were there a couple of weeks and we drove around from the area near Nice down through Italy. We ended up driving all the way back up through France because we were flying out of Paris. We spent a few nights camping. It was real shoestring travel but I just loved it. To me, the energy level of going and seeing these places was real high. I tell everybody that the impact of that first time has been basically that I've schemed the rest of my life ways of getting back."
Winners have been announced at Broad Meadow Brook's Second Annual Photo Contest and Exhibit. The contest was open to area residents of all ages and featured photos of Broad Meadow Brook's 400-acre wildlife sanctuary.
Twenty-four photographers contributed 68 photos to the exhibit, which opened April 1 and runs through June 1 at the sanctuary visitors center at 414 Massasoit Road, Worcester. After June 1, the show will travel to the Worcester Public Library and a downtown storefront window through the Worcester Windows program.
The winners are: Best of Show, Guy J. Guillemette, Worcester, "Monarch on Clover"; Best of Season (two winners): Carol Morocco, Worcester, "Grasses: Troiano Brookside Trail" and Michael Walker, Cromwell, Conn., "Wood Lily"; Wildlife (two winners): Michael Walker, Cromwell, Conn., "Snapping Turtle" and Anka Ehrhardt, Worcester, "Robber Fly"; Sanctuary Waters (two winners): Stephen Gehlbach, Amherst, "Troiano Tree" and William Derr, Worcester, "Ice Rising from Broad Meadow Brook"; People in Nature: Lydia Yanis Simoneau, Boylston, "Family Life at Broad Meadow Brook."
Best Photo Elementary Age: Matthew Turner, Paxton, "Frog Pond and Still Nature" ( also participating were Erika Turner of Paxton, Zaire Stone of Worcester and Elycea Almadouar of Worcester); Best Photo Middle School Age: Ian Wixon, Grafton, "Untitled" (Dragonfly), Atiya Massenburg of Worcester, also participated; Best Photo College Age (two winners): Tristan Kemp, Worcester, "Lost in the Woods," and Brent Morrisette, Worcester, "Winter Wood Sky" (also participating were Ciara Bottomly and Andre Bergeron, both of Worcester).
"Bridges: the Art of Connections," the fifth annual art show at Goddard House, 1199 Main St., Worcester, will open April 22 with a champagne and chocolate reception from 2 to 5 p.m. Chet Williamson's Chromatic Swing duo will entertain. The reception is open free to the public, as is the show, with gallery hours from 1 to 4 p.m. daily through May 13. The exhibit, which includes the work of 26 local artists, explores ways people make connections physically, metaphysically, spiritually, culturally and symbolically.
Participating artists are Michael Backunas, Pat Bock, Emily Boosahda, Chris Buelow, Carrie Crane, Susan Cummings, Linda Davis, Mary Dewey, Katie Dewey-Rosenfeld, Stephen DiRado, Chris Greene, Kathleen Hendrick, Elizabeth Shropshire Ichton, Tom Kellner, Chuck Kidd, Mary-Ellen Latino, Rose LeBeau, Dan McCann, Abigail Rorer, Ron Rosenstock, Donalyn Schofield, Susan Sedgwick, David Snay, Marcella Stasa, Mary Walter and Francis Warner.
Jeremiah Patterson artist talk
When: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. tomorrow
Where: The Art Center Gallery at Miriam Hall, Anna Maria College, 50 Sunset Lane, Paxton
How much: Free
CUTLINE: (1) Artist Jeremiah Patterson talks with Anna Maria College's director of music therapy Lisa Summer at the opening reception of Patterson's "Memoirs of Place" exhibit at the college. At right, a painting of Teyssode, a tiny French village in the Pyrenees. (2) "Greek Temple at Segesta" by Jeremiah Patterson. (3) Edgartown, Aug. 26, 2000, a photo from Stephen DiRado's Jump Series.
PHOTOG: (1) ED COLLIER