Animal, Vegetable, Art

8 March – 16 May 2009

Charlotte Andry Gibbs, Monet’s Apples, oil on linen

In her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver wrote about eating food that either her family produced or that was at least produced in her geographic region.  This exhibit brings together a wide variety of artists, many of whom reside here in Groton.  All of these artists have created a local product.  These aren’t copies of paintings from far away or long ago, but vital works of art created by your friends and neighbors.  When you buy original art made by living artists in your area, you support and sustain the arts in your community. 

Erin Mullins, Food for
Thought: Eat Local

Our postcard artist, Erin Mullins, did not create her poster for our show, but she could have.  Her lively collage graphically summarizes this exhibit.  Erin is a student at the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens and is a Groton resident. 

Zoe Harris, a senior at the Groton Dunstable Regional High School, has the eye, professionalism and ambition of a more mature artist.  She anticipates going to film school and I’m sure she will be successful in that endeavor.  Zoe also assisted the curator in hanging this show, and her invaluable assistance is greatly appreciated.

In Martha Oldham’s watercolor, “Pumpkin,” her brush roves delightfully over the pumpkin’s stem and no mark is wasted.  She has also painted her garden in rich atmospheric greens, the place where these peppers and pumpkin are grown. 

Charlotte Gibbs, in “Monet’s Apples,” is doing double duty, painting a Groton grown apple in Pepperell, and then making apple crisp (see the statement exhibited with her work for details).  The blend of abstraction and realism is seamless.  The most realistic part of the painting is arguably the apples’ reflections on the table, leading the viewer to question the nature of reality. 

Elaine Chamberlain, who painted the O’Connell’s Barn (now the O’Connor’s barn) displayed behind the reference desk on the upper level of the library, has turned her attention to a cornfield.  The large painting threatens to envelop the viewer, yet up close one is enchanted by wisps of grass and pointillist dots that could be dust motes or tiny insects living out their short lives in the cornfield. 

I requested chickens for this exhibit, to further coincide with the GrotonREADS 2009 events surrounding Barbara Kingsolver’s book, and local artists were happy to oblige.  Elaine Chamberlain offers up a jaunty “Bantam Hen.”  She says the perfectly painted head was actually painted quite quickly, but that the grass took forever.  Bayard Underwood, a well known 93-year-old Groton resident, has contributed two lively roosters that are painted in a folk art style.  Finally, Madeleine Lord has supplied us with her “Polish Rooster and Hens,” a silkscreen print.

Madeleine Lord has long been primarily a sculptor, but she “painted in the eighties and is starting to paint again,” she says.  Looking at the horses in the two “Horse Farm” paintings, we can be glad of that.  They bring to mind the horse sculptures of Deborah Butterfield, but painted instead with an earthy, muscular energy that captures the essence of horse.

This exhibit of farms, produce and livestock would not be complete without a John Deere tractor, and Matthew Gray of Pepperell has provided one for us in “The Cabot’s John Deere.”  His small paintings are painted “En Plein Air” (outside) and “alla prima” (in one sitting) and he finishes his frames in gold leaf. 

Finally, Bob and Becky Pines were generous enough to loan us a painting that normally graces their kitchen.  Becky’s brother, Sam Hamlin, has drawn peppers, a cabbage and a chair with structural pencil lines and thin watercolor washes. 

Having curated for the Groton Public Library for nearly three years now, I am struck by the number of artists in this area and the quality of art they produce.  Most of them find it necessary to supplement their income in other ways, and there are a few that to my mind should be creating their art on a full-time basis.  So enjoy this show and enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Go to your local farmer’s market and buy their wares.  Consider purchasing a piece of locally produced art by a living artist for your home, perhaps even for your kitchen.  Never doubt that the small actions that you take to make the world a better place have far reaching ramifications that you may not see as of yet.

Deborah Santoro

Zoe Harris, Victory Garden

Martha Oldham, Untitled Watercolor
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