Making a Mark

Adria Arch, Cathy Chin, Kim Henry, Anne Krinsky, Madeleine Lord, Hanna Melnyczuk, Alice Phalen, Jan Powell

3 July – 8 September 2012

Making a Mark
Hanna Melnyczuk, Kim Henry, Adria Arch

draw•ing noun
1. the act of a person or thing that draws.
2. a graphic representation by lines of an object or idea, as with a pencil; a delineation of form without reference to color.
3. a sketch, plan, or design, especially one made with pen, pencil, or crayon.
4. the art or technique of making these.

In the summer, the art world slows down quite a bit. Summer shows tend to be Salon style group affairs; some galleries shorten their hours or even close. It is an auspicious time to return to basics: for an exhibit of that most primary of techniques, drawing. A drawing show that specifically seeks to reveal a range of drawing techniques and possibilities, to inspire us all to think not only about what a drawing is, but what a drawing can be. For most, a crayon or pencil is the first artistic tool. For an artist to return, periodically, to this foundation can be transformational. The artists in this exhibit were asked to not only submit a few drawings (the term “drawing,” in this case, loosely defined) but also to proffer a few words on the role of drawing in their artistic practice. These statements can be found in the gallery notebook in the exhibit.

Adria Arch, Reading Between the Lines
Adria Arch, from Reading Between the Lines
(click on image to enlarge)

Adria Arch’s playful installation of chalk drawings, “Reading Between the Lines,” is alluring. A series of black shapes painted in chalkboard paint leads the visitor into the gallery. The process of drawing in chalk on this matte black surface alludes to the notion of cosmic events. There is also the sense that a lesson in geometry might ensue at any moment. In her other work, Adria projects doodles and other written signs and symbols larger than life, layering them with collage and acrylic paint. This installation is a further exploration of her fascination with mark making.

Anne Krinsky, Delineation 21
Anne Krinsky, Delineation 21
(click on image to enlarge)

Anne Krinsky’s Shelf Life exhibit was here in the Fall of 2011. Anne is that rare artist who can express herself in words as readily as she does in her art, and has written reviews and feature articles for Art New England for several years. Here she returns with a few selected drawings from her Delineation and Diagonal Thinking series. In her statement she talks about drawing as a form of visual thinking. In these pieces you can see the wheels of her mind churning; using a grid, a ruling pen, pencil and acrylic paints to create abstractions that vibrate with color and gradual accretions of line.

Cathy Chin, Drive Up ATM
Cachy Chin, Drive Up ATM
(click on image to enlarge)

Cathy Chin has drawn pen and ink line drawings of downtown New England views, just as she finds them, unsentimentalized. There are cars parked in front of the church, a drive-up ATM, power lines, and winter bare trees. Their stark simplicity is elegant, her lines simple and sure. Cathy will be back in the fall with a solo exhibition of her watercolors and oil paintings called “Painting in My Backyard.”

Kim Henry’s work in pastels reveals her fascination with light, color and transitions from translucency to opacity. In “White Light,” a large tulip head is finely shaded with the light reflecting up from the green petals, green light on the white flower. A dark rich indigo background emphasizes the whiteness of the flower and the beauty of the reflected light.

Alice Phalen, Tulips About to Fall Apart
Alice Phalen, Tulips About to Fall Apart
(click on image to enlarge)

Alice Phalen’s “Tulips About to Fall Apart” represents the moment of a flower at its peak, just before it disintegrates. This drawing is finely crosshatched in colored pencils. Her “Spent Flower” expresses the fine line between representation and abstraction, using the bare minimum of line and color wash to get her idea across.

Jan Powell, Green Teapot
Jan Powell, Green Teapot

Jan Cadman Powell, one of the four artists from “More Than Words” this spring, drew teapots on her iPad. Her playful “Green Teapot” with red flowers both documents her collection of teapots, and provides her with an opening into this new and still evolving medium. Her “Orange Petal T Pot” is denser, with darker marks. Jan writes the following about this technique: “This method of creating line, applying color and rendering texture is a very different experience from that of traditional drawing materials. The immediacy of the method suits my metabolism.”

In “Sphere of Memories,” one of Hanna Melnyczuk’s large self-portraits, she is wearing a party dress and gazing out at the viewer. Her expression is serious, her brow furrowed. Above her floats a sphere with pictures of relatives and artists, flimsily fastened together with scotch tape. Her self-portraits are surreal and deeply psychological, even disturbing, providing a glimpse into the artist’s mind.

Madeleine Lord, Two Wheeler After Church on Sunday
Madeleine Lord, Two Wheeler
After Church on Sunday

(click on image to enlarge)

Madeleine Lord’s self portrait, “Two Wheeler After Church on Sunday,” is of herself as a girl dressed in a red jacket, green hat and red shoes, apparently about to ride off the page toward the viewer. The bare trees suggest late fall, as does the jacket. A last spin on the bicycle before winter sets in. Madeleine expresses a young girl’s joy to be outside and moving, feeling the wind on her cheeks. She calls these monoprints, yet she has used her finger as the etching press to draw in the shadows.

It is a bit selfish of me to put on a drawing show, for drawing has been one of my preoccupations for many years and I’m allowed, this time, to put a few of my own pieces in. The two here are quite small, and they are both of a yoga pose called kapotasana, or pigeon pose. They are the initial studies for larger pieces that use the pose as a starting point to express in an abstract way how the physical practice of yoga affects the energy of the practitioner.

A drawing can be many things. From Alice Phalen’s minimalist pencil sketch of a spent flower, to Kim Henry’s pastel paintings, there is a wide range of finish and polish. Some drawings are meant to be studies for larger works, others are finished pieces in their own right. Seemingly casual, quickly done studies are often superior to something that is overworked.

I submit that one can draw with a paintbrush, finger, stylus, marker or crayon. Burnt willow sticks. Chalk. An iPad. What then, defines a drawing? Only this, the mark of the human hand combined with the intention of the artist. Perhaps even this definition is suspect. The line between a drawing and a painting is, in the end, a judgment call. However you define it, drawing continues, in this 21st century era of technology, to be of use. To inspire and express the finest notions we humans are capable of. Whether it’s chalk on black paint or a calibrated ruling pen used in an orderly fashion, drawing continues to be the basis of art and design.

Deborah Santoro, Curator
July 2012

All are welcome to a reception with the artists on: Tuesday, August 7, 2012, from 6:30-8:00 pm. This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

This exhibit is supported by the Groton Public Library Endowment Trust.