Members Show Simply Stunning

            There are 90 opportunities to be amazed, beguiled and simply awestruck when entering the Marion Art Center now through February 10. Why? Because the Members Winter Show is now on exhibit.

            We took a sneak peak on Saturday, before the show officially opened and were gob smacked immediately by the variety of media and sheer quantity of museum-quality artwork. And that was just the first-floor gallery with 46 works. Another 44 awaited us in the second-floor gallery.

            The Members Show gives us, the viewing public, a chance to more fully appreciate the depth of artistic talent surrounding us on the south coast. Whether your taste leans towards traditional themes and methods or turns more towards technological execution, you’ll find beauty and perfection close to home at the MAC.

            One of the first pieces to catch our eye was photography of yellow tulips on a black background done by Donna St. Amant from Westport. The contrast between the stark blackness and the vivid yellow of tulips has to be seen.

            We caught up with St. Amant the following day to inquire about the processes she used to get a three-dimensional appearance. She explained her use of a large scanner capable of producing extremely high resolutions. Once the image is scanned, she uses computer programs to “clean up” the image.

            As an avid gardener, St. Amant creates these floral masterpieces from the organic masterpieces growing in her own garden. She explained that she had been a photographer for several decades but has moved away from that form of expression because she didn’t want to be sitting at a computer during her downtime.

            As a professional engineer, her working days found her sitting at a computer as it was. So her artistic urges were channeled into jewelry making. Now retired, she looks forward to using a computer once again, this time to explore the natural world in as many as 2,400 DPI.

            Another photographer whose images demonstrate the crossover capabilities of using computers to create art is Russ Saunders of Wareham. Saunders uses computer programs and printers to create fine art quality works.

            Brilliant colors of abstract design or seabirds playing along the water’s edge is the diversity of images Saunders creates. The description of his exhibited pieces reads “fine art photography, canvas giclee.” We asked him to break that down in layman’s terms. “Giclee means copy, like there is only one Mona Lisa, but there could be many copies.” A quick dip into the online dictionaries also indicated that giclee can mean “spray.” In the case of Saunders’ works, both definitions work.

            “I use high-quality canvas and inkjet printing…” that he contracts out. Saunders said that he starts out with a firm idea of what he wants the finished product to be. “You want to start with the end in mind.” The completed compositions are spectacular.

            And then there is John Magnan of Mattapoisett. Magnan’s wood sculptures grace what is now known as the Arc of Justice Atrium of the UMass Law School in Dartmouth. Each piece informs the other in a continuum speaking to the importance and necessity that all people receive equal treatment under the law. We had a chance to talk with Magnan a week before the Members Show opened.

            “The floral piece (titled the Joy of Access, one of four in the atrium) is solid cherry, hand carved as climbing Clematis at the height of bloom with a chickadee flying off in freedom. It’s intended to evoke a feeling of joy, hence the name. Providing underserved populations with access to the law is a major goal of the UMass Law School. That’s what they are preparing their students to do. When those who have been denied the benefit of law finally gain access to it, they know someone is there to help and their shoulders can drop. There is joy.”

            Magnan gives credit for the works in the school as inspired by his wife and her collaboration throughout the creation and installation of the works – Annie Jonas.

            In the Members Show, Magnan has several pieces: one titled Dark Russet, a bit of a play on words as he has created a nearly lifelike bag of potato chips and a bowl filled with chips from wood. So real, it seems to tempt the viewer to bite one.

            In the second-floor gallery, the glory continues. Turn to any wall and take your pick of visual delights. We found one painting that was luminous while at the same time, being dense with texture done by Deborah Beth Macy, oil and gold leaf on aluminum.

            While chatting with the MAC’s executive director, Jodi Stevens, we learned that in October, there is an exhibit planned for the three Macy sisters, each an artist in her own right. Now that is worth waiting for.

            The list of artists showing in this exhibit reads like a Who’s Who of superior local artists. It includes: Helen Johnson, watercolor; Judith Rosbe, photography; Jessica Morse, watercolor; David Danis, acrylic; Charlotte Smith, watercolor; Peter Stone, oil; Jaye Degnan Tirimacco, oil on linen; Alice Shire, watercolor; Barbara Allen, watercolor; Kyle Riseley, oils on canvass and board; Nat Simkins, watercolor and graphite; Butch McCarthy, acrylic; Robert Dunn, archival print with original digital photography; Deborah Beth Macy, oil and gold leaf on aluminum; John Wiliszowski, digital image elaboration; Robert Duff, oil on canvas and panel; Adrian Tio, linocut relief print; Russell Saunders, fine art photography/canvas giclee; Janet Cromer, watercolor; Richard Ironfield, oil; Darlene Sassmann, watercolor; Charlene Mackiewicz, pastel; Judith Klein, watercolor; Nicole St. Pierre, pastel; Jill Law, acrylic; Susan Gilmore, oil pastel on canvas; Beth Heather Macy, oil; Donna St. Amant, photography; June Strunk, watercolor; Phoebe Girard, fabric/paint/stitching; Nancy Skawinski, porcelain; Lenora Pennington, oil; Valerie Farretta, watercolor; Sarah Brown, pastel; Barbara Geagan, watercolor; Thomas Geagan, watercolor; Peggy Call-Conley, watercolor; John Magnan, wood; Michelle Lapointe, stained glass; Ben Bassham, oil on canvas; Elwin Williamson, photography; Carol Bliven, pastel; Diana Parson, watercolor; Patricia White, ink drawing; David Owen Maloney, digital drawing and acrylic; Pat Warwick, acrylic; Chip Davenport, oil on canvas; Kim Barry, oil on linen; Jane Eagan, pastel; Barbara Healy, oil and John Vliet, oil on canvas.

            Do yourself a favor, go to the MAC, take this show in and be refreshed until the crocus start to bloom.

Marion Art Center

By Marilou Newell

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