By the time this article is published, it will be several days into the spring. But you don’t need a calendar to feel the change of season. Spring is in the air, literally and metaphorically.
The hours of sunshine are gradually increasing each day and the weather is becoming a bit more predictable and comfortable.
The chorus of nature began with the hum of bumblebees, the chirping of songbirds and the croaking of springtime vowels. Daffodils and crocuses will soon appear. It’s a time of symbolic rebirth, of coming out of the winter doldrums, of mating season for creatures of all kinds, including humans, with our spring breaks and springtime adventures.
“Go for it !” East Gallery X‘s celebration of the moment, with nearly three dozen artists exhibiting works that – for the most part – embrace the common theme. A notable exception is a multimedia image of a bright red cartoon demon, framed by faux fur and lengths of chain, which would be much better suited for a Halloween show.
But maybe it’s the artist’s reminder that fall will arrive sooner than expected. Point taken.
Except for a few paintings of landscapes and depictions of animals (notably Christina Glaser’s “ANTS” wire wall sculpture, Robin Nune’s “Bessie” bovine portrait, and a series of watercolors by Kayla Connors including a fox, a blue jay, and a hare), spring-themed works fall into two categories.
The first category is floral, with dozens of artworks depicting flowers of all kinds. The second category is the fantastical, depicting magical beings, such as a fairy or a dryad, and in the case of artist Susan Brandon’s “Bursting” mixed media series, anthropomorphic flowers with human faces.
Upon entering the gallery, one is struck by a large painting of rose petals by Christine Cummings. Its “peony” is luscious in its hue and form, and intoxicatingly suggestive.
Georgia O’Keeffe notably denied that her famous large-scale close-ups of (and in) flowers were meant to be reminiscent of female genitalia. And it’s entirely possible — even likely — that Cummings will reject that interpretation as well.
As Freud noted, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” And so, sometimes a flower is just a flower.
The flowers of Kim Barry’s “Dancing Lilies” are also evocative and sultry, but the paint’s cool grays, blues and greens help tone it down to a calmer PG-13 sensibility.
Beyond the aforementioned “Bessie”, Robin Nunes also exhibits “Signs of Spring”, a beautiful impressionistic study of vibrant yellow flowers in a deep indigo vase, while Lisa Goulart’s “Fuchsia” is a wonderfully composed painting, which draws making the most of the curve of a bowl in stark contrast to the floral arrangement within.
A four-part series called “Springtime on the Seine” by Helen Bryant eschews any appearance of flowers, but still suggests them in the abstract, using an Easter basket palette of pink, baby blue, lavender and barely there yellow. .
Among the works that fall into the spring fantasy category is ‘Dryad’, a fabric work by Erica Miller, referencing the tree nymphs of ancient Greek mythology, who were linked to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. and vegetation, among other things, and a precursor to Mother Nature. Miller’s piece is a soft and simple portrayal of the woman-tree hybrid.
“Return to Jubilee”, a painting by Hannah Rose Schlieder suggests that moment when winter becomes spring, when cold gives way to warmth, when Thanatos and Eros dance and the cycle continues.
Spring is here. But I leave you with a poem I wrote ten years ago:
“Mother Nature and Father Time shared a bed and four children came.
There was summer, sensual and joyful, but with a hot and mean side.
Autumn was shrunken and bright and rarely looked back.
Winter was stubborn and cold, rigidly fixed in its ways.
And there was spring, pretty and sweet and loving, but oh so fickle.
Consider that last line a warning. It’s New England. Keep the scraper in the car.
“Go for it !” is on display at Gallery X, 169 William Street, New Bedford until 10 April.