The Grenning Gallery is pleased to usher in Spring with an exhibition of 5 artists opening April 24th in our newly renovated space at 26 Main Street. Come see the latest works from Amy Florence, Maryann Lucas, Tim McGuire, Tina Orsolic Dalessio, and Rachel Personett. Their buoyant works celebrate the impending joy of the season. Spring is a Rebirth and offers a much-anticipated bounce in the step after the oft times, heavy-footed boot of winter. This year, we sense the invigorating nature of this season with an unprecedented enthusiasm as people become vaccinated and the world continues to open its doors! Spring is a welcomed interloper and a seductive summoner of what’s to come: trees transform with blossom, greenery insists and then abounds, cumbersome jackets are swapped for breezy dresses and fresh frocks, one’s skin is awakened by the warm air and promises of sun-soaked days and languorous summer nights.
Throughout art history, the enticing charms of Spring have long called painters to their brushes: Botticelli’s La Primavera; Renoir’s Spring Bouquet; Van Gogh’s The Pink Peach Tree; Gaugin’s The Loss of Virginity ( The Awakening of Spring); and O’Keefe’s Spring. This exhibit will explore the cheerful subjects, joyful colors, and vibrant brushstrokes that portray better days ahead. The exhibit will hang until Sunday, May 2nd.
Amy Florence (b. 1989), like many of the artists in this exhibition, doggedly pursued her career in painting. London-born Florence had determined dreams of studying in Florence, Italy, an epicenter of art education for many of the Grenning Gallery artists. By the age of 17, she secured the funds for this undertaking and by 25 she had her own studio and a teaching position in Italy. Florence lives in the historic town of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa with her partner and powerhouse of a painter, Ben Fenske. The two are inspired by the location of their home positioned in the Chianti Valley with its rolling hills and romantic views of olive groves and vineyards.
Florence has been wooed by the subject of flowers and become increasingly drawn to immortalizing the subject on her canvas. Though she says : “I never considered myself to be a flower painter. I am exploring the idea of interior versus exterior. If I can find a still life in nature, in landscape; I can then bring that scene into an interior.” There is a sense of experimentation in her graceful Impressionist style. Florence is laying down clear, confident strokes and there is a playfulness and slight disregard for perfection as evidenced by both “Pear Blossoms and Apples” and “Daffodils.” She agrees: “ I am developing a looser style. I am leaning into the beauty of the paint rather than the pure accuracy of it.” If one can appreciate beauty, there is no denying that these (as often referred to by painters) “happy accidents” are not only visually delightful but artistically triumphant.
MaryAnn Lucas (b. 1959), a native Long Islander, is an active and dedicated member of the East End Artistic community. Equipped with a sensitivity to and natural sense of color, Lucas, a self-taught painter, depicts plein-air scenes, seascapes, and still- lifes with increasing knowledge of art theory and thoughtfulness. “Welcome Home” depicts pink snapdragons and white lilies in a porcelain vase. In the foreground, lies two opposite facing pears one of which is catching the sunlight from the window. This painting was the first produced in Lucas’s new studio in Sag Harbor. She remembers:“ I had just moved into a new studio. I was feeling all the nervousness and newness which comes so often with change. When I began to paint it was with a renewed sense of confidence which felt like coming home, hence the name of the painting “Welcome Home.”
“Morning Light” epitomizes the abundance of Spring with its bustling bouquet of white lilies, yellow roses, and a sliced open, ready to be eaten pink grapefruit. Despite the levity of the scene, Lucas has challenged herself with space, making a clear contrast between subject and background. She is consciously rejecting the “ironed on” effect of a subject onto a canvas, a trap to which lesser artists might succumb.
Tim McGuire (b.1971) lives and paints in Nova Scotia, Canada. McGuire, a former kindergarten teacher, moved to Florence at the age of 31 to pursue his passion of painting and study at the city’s renowned Academy of Art. This life changing decision was a belabored one, yet when made, allowed him the ability to live as he wanted and express himself through the medium he most desired. He recalls: “I thought to myself if I had a million dollars what would I do? The answer was easy: I would move to Florence and paint. I didn’t have a million dollars, and it wasn’t coming anytime soon, so I just decided to do it anyhow. Sometimes I feel guilty because I get to do what I love every day, because it brings me so much happiness. Most people aren’t afforded that luxury.”
That sentiment is not lost upon McGuire’s canvases which reflect a sprightly sense of joy and pleasure. He works exclusively from real life. McGuire trusts his artistic instincts and if something catches his eye, and he believes there to be a picture in the scene, he is compelled to make that picture happen.
“The Creek”, displayed prominently in this show, is a fine example. McGuire, who built an easel especially for this painting, spent incalculable hours observing the creek and even laying his body in the rushing water to physically feel the different textures of rock, water, leaf and trees on his skin. “It was like a dream; the fish jumping around me and the little creatures slithering past.” The result is an incredibly successful, actively alive picture literally pulsing with varying colors, textures, and brush stroke.
McGuire’s grasp and understanding of color is also of importance. The painter likes to use primary versions of a color with a balance of neutrals to create an intense yet monitored experience for the eye. “I ask myself to give the color I see a name and then I make that color.” McGuire is truly “translating” the world onto the canvas the way he sees it. “The paintings are a reflection of who I am; the reason why I paint is not for the picture but to enjoy and bask in the process of the actual act of painting.”
Rachel Personett ( b. 1991) born in Hawaii and raised in Colorado is an artist who pays homage to nature by exclusively painting from real life. She enjoys the challenges of capturing ephemeral subjects in their natural environs. “Poppies” was created during the Pandemic in Monument, Colorado. Careful not to go inside her parents’ house, Personett would stand outside the window speaking with her family and admiring the poppies her grandmother planted before she passed away. Wondrously, the poppies continue to bloom each year more and more beautifully and abundantly. The vivid poppies set against the verdant back group represent strength, fortitude, and resilience.
Tina Orsolic Dalessio (b 1983), a Croatian-born figurative painter, packs a powerful punch in this exhibition with included works “Gladioli” and “Abandoned Church”. Orsolic Dalessio is a keen and perceptive observer of nature. She proves herself to be a painter who both competently captures the essence of a scene and imbues in her rendering a poetic, lyrical element which allows the viewer the opportunity for deeper connectivity.
“Gladioli” is a celebration of color. Red, white, pink, and yellow gladioli burst forth from an antique Chinese vase set atop and against an eggshell blue tabletop and background.
The Gladioli were a gift from her husband and fellow painter, Marc Dalessio. He woke early in the morning to fetch the flowers for her at their local market in Portugal. She recalls: “I just thought they were spectacular, and I knew I had to eternalize them.”
In an effort to capture the gladioli before they gave into the heat of the studio, Orsolic - Dalessio worked fast and energetically with big fat brushes. This urgent method is successful in creating a work which is wholly alive and celebrates the beauty of its subject.
Orsolic- Dalessio stumbled upon the subject for “Abandoned Church” on one of her Usual excursions. There was something about this stranded church, home to a flock of swallows, its doors flown open to nonexistent visitors which spoke to the painter. The pink spring blossom juxtaposed to the blue hue of the wall of the church makes for impactful effect.