"Eloquent Objects: the Sense and Sensibilities of Still-Life Painting" to open at Bates College Museum of Art

“Eloquent Objects: the Sense and Sensibilities of Still-Life Painting” will open the summer season at the Bates College Museum of Art at 7 p.m. Friday, June 9. The exhibition features 50 contemporary still-life paintings by 13 artists living or working in Maine. The public is invited to view the exhibition through Aug. 25, 2000, free of charge.

According to Genetta McLean, director of the Bates College Museum of Art and curator of the exhibit, “Eloquent Objects” extols the visual sensation. Time-honored arrangements of fruit, vegetables and flowers are brought up-to-date, creating a new need to look afresh at this genre. Brett Bigbee’s serene masterpiece “Still Life” 1999, depicting a rhododendron bud in a cobalt blue vase accompanied by red tomatoes and a yellow pear, summarizes the exhibition’s essence. “When you see this painting, you will know that beauty is back,” said McLean.

“Eloquent Objects” provides an opportunity to see paintings that have never been publicly shown or are not typically associated with an artist’s body of work. Joel Babb, for example, who is widely known for his exquisite woodland landscapes, is represented by several still lifes painted with an infinite number of subtle glazes.

Sharon Yates, who has spent many years studying pastoral landscapes in Lubec, Maine, is represented by a series of peony paintings. Alex Gnidziejko, portraitist extraordinaire, creates jewel-like visions of flowers executed in oil and egg tempera.

There are some surprises, as well. “Visitors will be delighted by Emily Eveleth’s oversized jelly-filled doughnuts and Tiny Ingraham’s homage to the salt shaker,” McLean said.

According to McLean, the current resurgence of interest in still-life painting, both historical and contemporary, is reflected in museum exhibitions and commercial art galleries around the world. Cleveland recently exhibited 17th-century Dutch still-life painting, and Bilbao, Spain, featured modern Spanish still-life painting. Beginning in June, 2000, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is showing paintings by the 18th-century French master Chardin. “Eloquent Objects” at Bates presents a rare opportunity to see still-life painting by some of Maine’s premier representational artists, many of whom regularly show in New York and Boston, but less frequently in Maine.

The 13 artists included in the exhibition are Leonard Anderson, James Aponovich, Joel Babb, Brett Bigbee, Emily Eveleth, Samuel Gelber, Robert Gibson, Alex Gnidziejko, Tina Ingraham, Janet Manyan, James Mullen, Joe Nicoletti, lecturer in art at Bates, and Sharon Yates. The artists represent numerous Maine communities, such as Lewiston, Sumner, Lubec and Brunswick.

Also on view in the lower gallery is “Harold Garde: Hatted/Unhatted” and highlights from the museum’s permanent collection, including maritime watercolors by William Thon, donated by his wife, the late Helen Thon. Regular hours at the Bates College Museum of Art are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Guided tours for schools and other groups are welcome by appointment. Call 207-786-6158 or this museum@bates.edu for more information.

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