Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 NSAA Season Opens with Robert Douglas Stephenson Retrospective, May 6 through June 11

'Half Moon Beach', Robert Stephenson
The North Shore Arts Association proudly presents a comprehensive retrospective of the work of artist member Robert D. Stephenson (1935 -2015). The exhibition is curated by Tom Nicholas, N.A., and T.M. Nicholas, who generously gave of their time and energies to mount this show. The show opens May 6 through June 11, 2016, with a reception free and open to the public on Sunday, May 15 from 2 to 4 p.m.
Robert Stephenson was born on August 21, 1935 in Gloucester, the oldest of two sons born to Charles Francis Stephenson and Cora (Douglas) Stephenson. At 8 years old, his mother arranged for Robert to study art with noted artist Alice Beach Winter at her home studio at 134 Mt. Pleasant Avenue in East Gloucester. Alice Beach Winter and her artist husband Charles Allen Winter were winter residents of New York City and began summering in Gloucester in 1914. Alice was every bit the artistic equal of her husband having studied at the Art Students League and exhibiting regularly at the National Academy of Design. After the couple's marriage, Alice's teaching, portrait work, and illustrations did much to support the family, leaving Charles free to concentrate on his painting. Their lives in New York City put them into the social center of the most forward thinking artists of the day.
Alice and Charles became full time residents of East Gloucester starting in 1931 where they became influential teachers in the artist community. Many of the great American artists of the day found their way to Paris, Rome, and beyond to study in the French ateliers and to bring home the newest ideas being espoused in the artist circles of Europe. The artists who surrounded the Winters proved to be a veritable "Who's Who" of American Art. Among the artists they socialized with were such notables as John Sloan, Robert Henri, Leon Kroll, Aldro T. Hibbard, W. Lester Stevens, Jane Peterson, and William Glackens.
'The Red Cottage', Alice Beach Winter
Under Alice's tutelage and in the atmosphere of her eclectic studio in The Red Cottage, which was filled with props, costumes, curios, and architectural fragments brought back from distant places, Bob Stephenson's youthful imagination caught fire. In his teens, he painted a large sea serpent on the rocks at Cressy's Beach, which was much loved and is fondly remembered by many in Gloucester. Bob's artistic development was further developed by the encouragement and teachings of his influential mentor, Howard Curtis, one of the great Gloucester painters, who was the head of the Art Department at Gloucester High School. Curtis, a deeply contemplative and spiritual man, certainly influenced the spiritual dimension that is so evident in Bob's mature artwork.
Bob showed great academic promise as well as artistic talent, winning the coveted Sawyer Medal for Academic Excellence. Having been exposed to the romance of other cultures and places in his early years, he was well prepared, after graduation from Gloucester High School, to take advantage of the travel and experiences afforded by entering the U.S. Army. He traveled throughout the world during his 27 year career, traveling extensively through Southeast Asia and the Far East. It was during his time spent in the Far East that Bob's interest in Buddhism took hold.
'The Art Class', Robert Stephenson
Upon his retirement as a U.S. Army Sergeant Major, and with a treasure trove of images stored in his imagination, he took up brushes and revisited his love of art. He studied with John Terelak at the Gloucester Academy, where one of his fellow students was T.M. Nicholas. They soon became fast friends and Bob was a frequent and welcome visitor at the home of Tom and Gloria Nicholas. . Later Bob studied with Tom Nicholas, N.A. and traveled to the West Coast taking workshops and painting with Tom Nicholas. Returning home, Bob was given the honor of being chosen  "artist in residence" at the Fitz Henry Lane House and later he would open a permanent studio at his home on Parsons Street, which was open to all during working hours. Bob and his frequent visitors to the studio held forth on any and all subjects; politics, art, religion, and more were open for discussion.
One test of the impact of a man's life lies in the quantity and depth of the anecdotes that are told of his life and character. By this measure, Bob's life was one of great import. He was much loved by the many friends who knew him best. The dry, acerbic nature of his wit, his wide ranging intellect, and his ability to imbibe a well known scene with layers of foreign atmosphere and a touch of swashbuckling romance still take us along with him on his journeys of the imagination.

The North Shore Arts Association is indebted to Bob Stephenson's friends and fellow artists, Jill Whitney Armstrong and Bob Armstrong, owners of  iartcolony, 42 Broadway, Rockport, MA for the use of the following video which was produced by Jill Armstrong for iartcolony's 2012 Invitational Artist Exhibition of Robert Stephenson's work.

A Retrospective of Bob Stephenson's Artwork Opens NSAA's 94th Season
by Gail McCarthy, Gloucester Times Staff Writer, April 27, 2016

Robert “Bob” Stephenson’s legacy survives on his beloved Cape Ann through those who enjoy the image of a sea serpent he painted decades ago on rocks in a harbor, and through others who grew to admire the enigmatic artist who lived off Main Street and became part of the local art circles.In a tribute to one of Cape Ann’s creative giants, the North Shore Arts Association will open its 94th season on Friday, May 6, with a retrospective dedicated to Stephenson’s art.Many of Stephenson’s paintings were notable for the complex cloud designs he painted among his prolific works. Nebulous and cirrus describe both the artist and the cloud formations that erupt on his canvases, while other works exude a dreamlike or mysterious quality.“Perhaps he was most innovative with his concept for how a cloudy sky was adjusted to the landscape,” says Rockport’s Tom Nicholas. “One of the things he did, which a lot of artists don’t do, was he painted the sky as you wouldn’t expect it. If you had a complicated landscape, many would keep the sky simple. But (Stephenson) would think nothing of making it a complicated sky and it created a lot of movement.” He looks at nature and makes it his own, Nicholas adds.Nicholas, a National Academician, and his son, T.M. Nicholas, an accomplished painter, looked through 140 of Stephenson’s paintings, out of which they selected about 40 works to be part of this exhibition.“Bob would take a subject he was interested in and added his own particular view of what the painting needed,” Nicholas says. “In order to express himself, he instinctively put more of himself into the painting. He would improvise to a great extent. That’s what it is all about — self expression, and his standard was high.”....please click HERE to see Gail McCarthy's complete article published in the Gloucester Daily Times.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ginger Greenblatt Solo Exhibition May 6 - June 11

'The Friendly Neighborhood', Ginger Greenblatt

North Shore Arts Association's 2016 season opens with a special solo exhibition by artist member Ginger Greenblatt which runs from May 6 through June 11. "Meet the Artists" receptions for Exhibition I, the Robert Stephenson Retrospective and for Ginger Greenblatt's show will be held on Sunday, May 15, from 2-4 p.m.

Ginger's work is characterized by her confident application of lively color and the use of contemporary figural references set within a variety of landscapes, both urban and rural. The viewer, drawn into the story being told of unexpected and chance moments shared between people, is rewarded by the interplay of the formal structural elements and a sense of lingering emotional connection. Ginger, busy preparing for her opening, graciously agreed to answer some questions about her work and her background.

Interviewer: Please talk about your student years, and early career choices.

Ginger Greenblatt: "As a child I always drew and painted to entertain myself. I lived near New York City and had a love for both the older impressionism and modern inventiveness I saw in the museums, but didn't feel that's what I did. As a teen I did pencil portraits of my friends and oil landscapes for my own enjoyment. I became a nurse, worked at that for 40 years and don't regret it...wonderful work."

Interviewer: Do you teach at present or have you taught in the past?
Ginger Greenblatt: "I have taught drawing occasionally and informally and demonstrate portrait drawing."

'Connected', Ginger Greenblatt
Interviewer: What is your daily routine as a working, professional artist? Has your routine changed over time?

Ginger Greenblatt: "The routine of being a nurse kept me organized. Now, 5 years into my retirement, I'm still having a hard time forcing myself to be organized as a painter. I find myself unfocused and easily distracted by housework and other projects. I work from daily to-do lists."

Interviewer: Who are the painters who have influenced you the most? Were they all landscape painters?
Ginger Greenblatt: "Many years ago I randomly picked up Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting in a bookstore and was taken by it's scientific common sense in looking at a landscape. I still find that I can open that book and learn something every time. Hans Holbein the Younger's charcoal portraits have been a constant inspiration. Of course I'll always listen to what John Singer Sargent has to say. Because I love to have a major focus on people in my paintings, I admire many illustrators and have studied the techniques of Norman Rockwell and Jesse Wilcox Smith.

Interviewer: Do you paint on location or in your studio? With other artists or solo?
Ginger Greenblatt: "My preference is to paint from life. Often I take some reference photos and end up finishing paintings at home. Sometimes I start by painting people first from photos I've taken, then I go out and paint the background from life.

Interviewer: What ideas do find that you return to often; that your feel are most important to communicate to your audience? Do you use symbols?

Ginger Greenblatt:"My genre seems to be "People Doing Things They Enjoy". My goal in any medium is to focus on what is beautiful about what I'm seeing in life.

Interviewer: What is your relationship to the risk and sacrifice that are part of the life of an artist?

Ginger Greenblatt: "I've paid for workshops, supplies, and equipment with my other career earning. I'm not feeling the effects of trying to support oneself with art."
'Where's the Ball?", Ginger Greenblatt
Interviewer: How do  you see that your work has evolved over time? Is your work looser, more direct; do you take more chances artistically, or ask more of your audience?

Ginger Greenblatt: "Over the years I've become more interested in simplicity and balance and line and shape and overall design. Sounds like I'm about ready to start art school!"

Interviewer: Is there a work that you are most proud of? What were the circumstances that led to its creation?

Ginger Greenblatt: "I discovered in my 40's that a painting I did as a teenager had been saved and treasured...It's a long story. It kick started me to make serious plans to paint in retirement."

Interviewer: Which artists would you most like to be compared to? Ginger Greenblatt: "Recently some pen and ink drawings I did elicited the response, 'These remind me of  New Yorker Caption Competition cartoons.' I liked that a LOT!"

Please come to the NSAA Season Opening Reception on Sunday, May 15th from 2 to 4 p.m. You'll have the opportunity to meet Ginger in person and ask her your own questions!