Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rockport & Cape Ann

During the past week, I was getting everything finished up for my solo show at the Rockport Art Association. The opening was last Sunday afternoon. I still had paintings to complete. I needed to sign, varnish and frame all of them. Then of course, there was also the making of  'the list' and all the photography that goes along with having good images of each painting. In the end I had 23 paintings in sizes ranging from 6x8 to 24x30 and everything in between.


I find that the 'not painting part' of being an artist takes so much longer than I imagine it will. It never fails.  It stems more from wanting to have the best paintings and to have everything just right, than it does from not planning. I am usually working hard to have my best work for a show and so all that other stuff gets done last minute. Packing a car with all the paintings and other necessities  is always a challenge. I actually enjoy the miracle of getting it all into the vehicle. Somehow I always get it to fit and then off we go!


A brief review of Rockport Massachusetts and the RAA goes something like this:  It is at the tip of the Cape Ann peninsula and is surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. (Doesn't that instantly make you understand how beautiful and paintable it is!) The Rockport Art Association or RAA, was founded in 1921 by a small group of local artists in the studio of Aldro Hibbard and is one of the oldest art associations in the United States. Nearby is the city of Gloucester. Both Rockport and Gloucester are still fishing villages and artist colonies. 


Pam and I love heading to Cape Ann to paint. For this trip we drove straight to the RAA and unloaded paintings so that we could hang my show in the Marguerite Pearson room. Hanging a show is another thing that always takes longer than I think it will but Pam and I worked together, and along with some help from the RAA staff, we had it done before we knew it. A short time before the association closed for the day, our friends and painters Charlie Movalli and his wife Dale Ratcliffe stopped by to see the show and then we all went out for a bite to eat. Bruce Turner and his wife joined us there, as did John Caggiano. We had a great time conversing. I always love listening to stories about the Rockport 'Greats'. Charles Movalli is full of stories about these painters. On this night he had stories about Emile Gruppe, Carl Peters, Antonio Cirino and Harold Wolpoff.  Afterwards we stayed at John's house for the night. 


I could listen to Movalli talk for hours and then want to hear more. He has that affect on most people. Even though I have taken only one workshop with him, he has been a mentor to me and I consider him to be one of the best living painters in America today. He is a brilliant individual. If you listen to him talk for just three minutes, you will come to this realization. When he works, he is out to make a statement in paint. He makes a plan, he decides on one thing to say and then he makes that statement. Once it is said, he stops. When I took his workshop in Port Clyde in 1991, the ad in American Artist Magazine said that he was the kind of teacher who's workshops were life changing. They were right about that!


For years, Movalli taught plein air workshops and demonstrated all over the country. If you have ever had the opportunity to take a workshop or watch just one of his demonstrations, than you are already aware of what a privilege it was. Back in the day, his standard size outdoors was a 24x30 and he would do 4 or 5 a day on a painting trip. Not only is he a great painter but the most prolific painter I know too. Youtube has a number of short clips of Movalli talking about some of his paintings at the Wall's Gallery in North Carolina. Do yourself a favor and look them up. This is a master discussing his work. It will give you an idea of the energy that makes up this great man. 


Movalli is the editor of all three Emile Gruppe books which are the best books about outdoor painting out there. They are Gruppe's thoughts, his ideas etc but the books would not be what they are without the genius of Movalli behind them. For many years, Movalli wrote several articles for American Artist Magazine. They were titled; 'A Conversation with'..and then the artists name. They appeared almost monthly. I was fortunate enough to be an artist that he interviewed for one of these conversations in the Dec 1995 edition. These articles always gave some background about the artist, their palette and their working method and more. I guess that is pretty much the standard article about an artist, but these were different. They truly were a conversation and in each one, you felt like you were part of the conversation as you read along. You really felt like you got to know a particular artist in each one. Another article that stands out for me is one titled 'In Praise of Painterly Painters'.  If you have the chance to go back through your old American Artist Magazines, look for this one.  It is in the May 1987 edition on page 36.

On Sunday before the opening, we had a nice breakfast with our friend Lou Seone. The place to have breakfast in Rockport is at the 'Red Skiff '. It's a tiny place...the word SKIFF is very apropos to the size of the place and you always have to wait for a table. They really have a great breakfast though and It's always worth the wait. After that, Pam and I headed to Stop & Shop to pick up food and drink for the opening. We decided to make a nice sangria and got all the appropriate food items to go along with it. I also made a quick stop at a coffee place nearby to fuel up for the afternoon!  


My opening was well attended and went by in a blink of an eye. What can I say. There were people and a lot of good conversation. I got nice compliments about my work (and also the punch....sangria) and had sales. I also booked a private workshop with a group of artists in attendance. It was a good day.


Here is a picture of Motif #1 in Rockport and a couple paintings that are in my show. My laptop is currently out of commission so I am going with what I have for now. I'm hoping and praying that it is fixable. My monitor will not come on although it does for a brief two seconds.  Arrrrg.































3 comments:

Joan Cole said...

Wonderful post, David! I love your intimate, newsy style. I am also glad you had success at your show. Just having a solo show at Rockport is an honor, I know; however, it's hard to beat sales as an indicatorwqwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwa (oops, that was the cat writing to you!) Must go; she won't stay off the keyboard. Love to you & Pam ~Joan (& Japengo)

David Lussier said...

Thanks Joan & Japengo!

Paintdancer said...

Hi David, Love your blog and your work. will you be doing any workshops in late July, first week of August in Maine, or at Rockport? Will be up there then.