... A variety of art forms please throngs of art lovers
You had to snake your way through the endless throngs in Memorial Hall Sunday for the sixth Annual Melrose Art Festival. "Excuse me, I'm sorry, may I get through?" a constant theme. The crowds every year are testimony to the appeal of an art show, so it's too bad we don't have more opportunity to show off the talents of our artists and offer the pleasure of seeing and even, buying original works of art.
And there were plenty of talented artists to choose from. Art is, of course, a personal thing; the artist creates according to his or her inner inspiration and judgment, and the viewer appreciates what he or she has learned about art and individually responds to. Every artist exhibiting drew admirers.
We were especially drawn to work that stood out for its distinction, originality, and for its composition or design, color and technique in being able to carry out the overall intent. Margette Leanna (Newburyport) stood out for her assured figures, young women's heads, a dancer bending, a mature head sketchily presented with white towel draped as after a shower, all done with a deftness and knowing command of drawing and color.
Watercolors mostly of architecture in our American Southwest by Nancy Fulton were striking in their simple but strong forms in rich tones of gold or earth hues, some with interesting contrasts of darker areas. An architect with projects in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., she devotes time now to painting in Somerville.
Color was also notable in street scenes and still lifes by Melrose artist, Ellen Rolli - color that almost vibrated it is so vivid. Her street scenes varied from lush purples to hot colors, and one contrasting still life, close to abstraction, almost burst with color. And her rich palette is applied in a controlled loose style that adds to the works' energetic attraction.
There were many good watercolorists in the exhibit; one especially interesting was Lois Moore (Ipswich) who uses mixed media in delicately depicted flowers. Black ink draws the stems, the rest of watercolor and pastels, sometimes charcoal, all with a wonderful "lightness of being."
Sculptor Charles Hahn of Melrose has a firm command of his figures, male or female, and a bronze of a man's form titled "Summertime Blues" presented an intense face and a superbly relaxed sense in the slouching posture: he almost compelled me to sit down and take a breather, But on with the show.
There wasn't a really weak or boring work in the show, but space prohibits the description of all 36 artists. Here are a few more highlights: The incredibly delicate, fanciful papercutting scenes by Amy Seabrook, from fine-branched trees to blue ocean waves, art that surely belongs in children's books. From Rockport, she selects paper of 100 different colors.
Clint Chadsey, Melrose mailman, again brought the fascination of his wooden box assemblages, sometimes with photos and articles that are macabre, sometimes historically pointed, sometimes amusing: Diane Sawler-McLaughlin, flowers and scenes with a refreshing light touch, again in colored pencils, but also a few gouache this year, also skillful (a Melrose librarian, whose work would make a fine library display).
Also, lovely miniatures by Anthony Accettullo of Melrose, once a pharmacist: a compelling smallish watercolor of a room with table, "Afternoon in New Orleans," by Carolyn Latanision (Winchester), evocative in its sharp areas of "light and shadow"; Melrose's Eva Cincotta's oil paintings of city scenes, one small with pink tones a little gem, plus a soundly wrought still life with copper cup; Debra Corbett's Melrose scenes that are careful realism, and a handsome "Good Harbor."
Photography was exquisitely presented by Cheryl Warner Foley (North Reading), and a colorful variety by Wilds Gerideau-Squires (Andover); uniformly soft-textured scenes by Jean Allen (Melrose), notably a Margaree Valley, Cape Breton; subtly toned prints, semi-abstract, by Susan Kelly Lundstrom, and her husband John Lundstrom's amusing animals, including a purple flying pig.
And the nice light watercolor approach of Pixie Clark of Melrose; Carol Schena's unusual plaster reliefs, especially winning a ballet dancer in true posture (Melrose artist); also unusual the sculpted and painted frames and mirrors of Nancy Babson (Topsfield).
No daring painters, no extremists; one traditional painter, however, took a long step back in time for a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa." And with no small show of painterly skill and application. An absorbing art festival.
April 7, 2000.
Originally published in