Ocean’s Edge

June 22 - September 23, 2019

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.                                 

    Jacques Yves Cousteau

For many, the ocean is a spiritual and emotional touchstone; it is also a place of fun and frolic. The three artists in this exhibit take markedly different approaches in representing the wonder of being at the ocean’s edge.

Graham Nickson renders the changing dynamics of the beach in all seasons. A master of observation, drawn form, and painted color, in each painting he deftly captures moments of solitude. In one painting a figure, seen from the back, stands upright and square-shouldered in chrome-yellow foul weather gear, contemplating the bracing blue-grays of a New England sea and sky. In another, a bikini-clad woman standing at the waterline is engulfed in mauve light from the setting sun, the sky above a symphony of indigo and coral. The exhibit’s largest canvas is a black and white composition in which a swimmer pulls off her t-shirt in preparation for a solitary swim. However, it is not the swimmer but the expanse of beach, rendered in the deep shadows of sharply raked early morning light that is the subject of this painting.

Bathers at leisure under the hot sun of Mexico are the focus of David Kapp’s monumental collages. Sheets of paper covered in loose swirls of saturated color form the background settings in this series. Figures are fashioned by cutting or tearing paper painted with smaller, more finely articulated strokes. With their surprising juxtapositions of lush color, these compositions have a jazzy syncopation. They are as fresh and fun as a vacation recorded by an eye that carefully observes the dynamics of the scene—strolling figures, a palm tree, a sun-glassed dude on a cell phone.

Isca Greenfield-Sanders’s layered compositions, derived from found images, capture how time by the sea is remembered and the memories are burnished. Each painting is a composite of a single image recreated in several stages and different media, from ink line drawing to watercolor enhanced with colored pencil to oil. The depth of color and luminosity of the surface is created by the history of its making.

We go to the place where land, sky, and sea meet at all times of day, in all kinds of weather, alone or with companions, for contemplation and renewal. We go to the ocean’s edge to dive into the sea—a sublime moment when mind and body are in harmony. The artists in the exhibit have recorded those moments and given them back to us in the aesthetic realm. I invite you to take a deep dive into their work. It’s worth the plunge.

— Mara Williams, Chief Curator