Winter doldrums got you down? A trip to the Falmouth Art Center should help. “Watercolors by Adele Huestis and Linda Peterson Pollen” in the Sigel Gallery is a sunny and engaging collection of summery watercolors that will have you smiling in no time.
Friday, January 6, from 4 to 6 PM, is the opening reception for this show and two other exhibits: “Weather,” a member show in the Hermann Gallery, and “Fabulous Fibers” in the Landrau-Partan Gallery. All three exhibits run through January 31.
Adele Huestis and Linda Peterson Pollen are talented artists, adept at using the tricky medium of watercolor to create vibrant images and imbue them with meaning, while imparting a bit of their own personalities into their works.
Peterson Pollen’s works are finely detailed and precise; her subjects are flowers, still lifes, and scenes from her travels. Huestis takes a more expressive approach. Her paintings are realistic and vivid, but the details are suggested, rather than specifically rendered. “Since most of my ideas for paintings derive from a constant stream of sketch books, I am always looking for ways to transfer my sketch book work into a finished painting with vibrancy and a feeling of the ‘here and now,’” she has written.
A graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York, Huestis studied with Charles Reid, who included several of her paintings in his book, “Pulling Your Paintings Together.” She has won many awards and recognition for her work.
“The human figure is my favorite subject matter,” she writes, and she likes “portraying my subjects in a light and lyrical manner.” And that she has done. Area residents will recognize several scenes, including young viewers of the Falmouth Fourth of July parade and the Arts Alive festival.
There are two views of colorfully dressed young dancers waiting to perform and a woman demonstrating weaving on a loom as crowds of brightly clad people walk by. I particularly like this painting, not only because the woman is Suzy Bergman, director of the Art Center, but because it really captures the essence of Arts Alive—the joy of making art, as well as the fun of seeing local artists at work.
Particularly light-hearted is a trio of small paintings along one wall of the gallery. There is a man and a woman, almost cartoonish in style, reclining on beach chairs; a person standing in a garden, dwarfed by irises in front and hollyhocks off to the side, and an older woman sharing a bench with a friendly-looking, human-sized, seated frog statue.
Huestis’s two paintings of triathlon participants are impressive. The athletes are not looking in our direction, but their strength and determination is clear from their lithe bodies as they wait for the event to begin.
“West Falmouth Dock” shows a small sailboat resting on a wisp of a boat landing and its reflection in the calm gray-blue waters around it, evoking the natural beauty and serenity of Cape Cod.
Peterson Pollen’s “Rainbow Dories” provides a contrasting mood. Five brightly hued rowboats are tied to a dock; the water is a vivid blue, and the feeling is one of adventure, despite—or perhaps because of—the well-used look of the boats.
Peterson paints from life, often using flowers she has gathered from her garden or other places. There are two striking watercolors of irises with nicely detailed ruffles and veins, a lovely vase of multiple varieties of sunflowers and an amaryllis in a pot, its cast shadow bringing out its dimensions.
“Love Story” is a collection of images of love: red roses (and some blue violets), daisies, an angel, a Chinese vase, cherries, some valentine hearts, and an apple (from the Garden of Eden). The colors and composition make it an attractive watercolor, but the stories of love make it special.
One of my favorites is a scene Peterson Pollen told me she put together with whatever late-summer flowers she could find and the fruit she had on hand. Purple thistles fly out in all directions around orange tubular flowers and a golden sunflower. Yellow pears and red apples are arranged near the vase, extending the flowing motion of the thistles and leaves, and resulting in a very lively still live.
Another gorgeous still life is “Quince and Pomegranates,” a dramatic arrangement of those fruits on a geometrically designed tablecloth.
Peterson Pollen’s paintings of Italy are equally meticulous. They include “Waiting for the Tourists,” an old brick tourist agency plastered with notices and posters with a row of empty chairs by the door; “Afternoon Shadows,” a perfectly executed orange bicycle leaning against a deteriorating yellow-orange wall in Florence; and “Plein Air Portrait,” a watercolor of Peterson Pollen’s own oil painting-in-progress on an easel in a field in Tuscany. It’s a playful touch.
Peterson Pollen began her career painting abstract oils. When she tried watercolor, she found it “so difficult that I had to pursue it.” She is drawn to the challenges of the unforgiving nature of transparent watercolor and of conveying emotions and a point of view. She is inspired by “whatever catches my eye: colors, light, and shadows,” and uses a variety of techniques to achieve texture and values.
Both Huestis and Peterson Pollen were featured in “The Best in Watercolor, Splash 8: Watercolor Discoveries” (2004), edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf. “It is quite an honor to be included,” said Peterson Pollen, who has also received numerous other awards for her work.
The Falmouth Art Center is at 137 Gifford Street. Hours are 9 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday and 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturday. For more information, visit www.falmouthart.org or call 508-540-3304.