Ones to Watch

NANCY SIMONDS | Marigold, Blues and Spring Violet, 2017, gouache on paper, 42” x 42”
JULIA BLAKE | Green Beach Umbrellas, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 36” x 48”
STEVE ROGERS | Big Jim, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 28” x 32”
NANCY GRACE HORTON | Blast Off (Ms. Behavior series), 2011, archival pigment print in editions of 10, 17” x 17” & 30” x 30”
NINA JEROME | Entangled, 2017, oil on canvas, 58” x 46”

Nina Jerome

“Last year I watched spring unfold for the month of April as part of a residency at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. I became fascinated with the wild vines invading the Virginia woods and returned to them daily, curious about the movement and beauty of their destructive growth. I drew and painted them en plein air, and continued to develop variations of the idea when I returned to my Bangor studio. These invasive vines engage me through their movement and form, and through the way they also parallel the structure of roadways and rivers in the aerial landscapes that I have been painting for years. Whenever I paint, I search for the distinctive visual elements that nature presents. Whether walking the shore in Addison, Maine, where I spend the summer, or working on Maine islands where I have enjoyed recent residencies, I try to witness changing light and tide, along with the natural rhythms and movements essential to these places. I draw to identify and document my interests. When I later assimilate these experiences in my studio, I encourage color surprises by first underpainting the canvas surface with vibrant colors that interact with subsequent layers as the process develops. The painting becomes a new reality that expresses the experience of being in that place.”

Nancy Simonds

“I make large-scale abstract gouache paintings on paper and panel. In each of my Ovoid, Block Stack, Arc Sweep, and Cropped Ovoid series, I use different arrangements of shapes and colors to create a feeling of transcendent order. These images are anti-chaos; all strive for a connection to a moment for reflection, resolution, and calmness. My works have luxuriant, protean color and are infused with soft, sublime texture. In painting each piece, there is an experience of exhilaration and renewal. I stack and pile simple shapes, placing them, then sizing and creating visual relationships that build into larger rhythms. My best paintings work like Japanese haiku; each image is paired down to its essentials, and each becomes a complete world of its own. In these paintings, I aim for an effect deeper than the joy of beautiful surface and color; I want to generate visual places, points of departure for states of serenity and contemplation. “In my Ovoid series, I enjoy the play of organic shapes against the white of the background, creating tension as the ovals touch or separate in varying degrees. These images reflect velvety textures such as moss, as well as disparate edges, sizes, and patterns coexisting in nature. Each shape is drawn and carved out by the edge of the brush. I use gouache paint on Rives printmaking paper; I blot and dab myriad hues to create complex and delicate surfaces. It is the thrill of potential in each new piece that keeps me exploring in the studio.”

Julia Blake

“My paintings are often described as happy, which is satisfying to me because I started painting again six years ago to cheer myself up when my youngest child started going to preschool. He’s one of six, so I had a lot of blissful years at home with babies, and I was sad to be done with this phase of mothering. I paint to feel happy and alive. I paint to remind myself of goals and lessons. I also paint because it stays done—it’s tangible evidence that I am productive and generative. My work is often defined by bright colors and looseness, but there is always intention, symbol, and metaphor on the canvas reminding me to be growing and improving. I rarely overwork a painting. In fact, often I stop much earlier than anticipated because I am excited about the work before I reach a conclusion. I don’t want it to be a perfect rendering of a scene or object. It speaks to me in its present, minimalistic state—it is enough. In that way, my work is indicative of appreciating the journey and destination, and of being content with the present.”

Steve Rogers

“I have never ceased to be fascinated by ships and the sea. In fact, marshlands and boatyards will do just as well. I am amazed by the craftsmanship, design, and beauty in the building of a ship or a simple skiff. I love the stark beauty of the wetlands, the sheer power of the ocean, and the inherent structures in the docks and warehouses of a working waterfront. So much of what we see today of our marine heritage is slowly fading away under the irresistible and relentless pressure of development. My work is simply a small effort to preserve some memories of what used to be for those who remember it fondly and for those who are unaware of what life was like only a few short decades ago. Some people have said there is a sadness in my work. The emotion they refer to is more a recognition, admiration, and respect for the lives and work of the people who work on the water. I consider myself fortunate to be able to pursue my art and share it with the public.”

Nancy Grace Horton

“To me, being a human is overshadowed by being a female human. A defining experience of my adulthood was realizing the extent to which media and commerce sexualize females, exploiting their power yet at the same time leaving them powerless. This incongruence mystifies and troubles me, and drives my work. I respond by constructing narratives that challenge stereotypes, using photography to produce images with bold colors and compositions. I incorporate fragmentation of the female form, cultural symbols, and humor. My goal is to explore the awkward intersection between personal versus cultural identity, and thereby prompt questions and dialogue about society’s gender conventions. “

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