I thought, for a change, I’d wander through Chestertown’s many art galleries without the usual intent to promote a specific artist or gallery, but just to look through my own private lens at the astonishing number of artists to be discovered here.
Caveat: I have no formal art appreciation training and a spotty understanding of art history. Like everyone, I have my favorite classicists, but I’d be lost identifying the taxonomy of eras like Neoclassicism, Barbizon School, Mannerism and the like. Thankfully, the Spy has Beverly Hall Smith to write about the Masters. My journey was more fundamental. What strikes or transports me and could I identify the elements of the image that struck some internal chord of “recognition,”
I also view art without a critical scale that includes negative numbers because I appreciate the meditative skill and training it takes to convey form, light, and color, even if it doesn’t light a flare in my solar plexus. Anything more complex than drawings of stick people humbles me.
So, I was curious what I would find and if my choices would suggest that I have a defined spectrum of appreciation, some theme or evocation of feeling I seek or recognize on some intuitive level. Perhaps I will know after visiting all the galleries.
I decided to start my art walkabout at Les Poison’s Gallery at 210 South Cross Street and told Rusty Poissons my plan. He let me browse quietly and among the many paintings and I came across these by Pennsylvania artist Beth Bathe.
What struck me about Bathe’s paintings were their muted tranquility. Yes, her artist’s statement mentions an influence by Andrew Wyeth but her technique of scratching away layers to define objects like a sailboat fascinates me. There’s a sense of emerging ‘hiddenness’ and the cross-hatching brushstrokes gently obscure and soften the images. With their limited range of sepia tonalities, they seem dislodged from time and belong more to the era and nostalgia of tintypes.
Bathe is an artist from Lancaster PA. After a long career as a graphic designer, she pursues painting full time. Primarily painting in oil en plein air since 2013 she participates in high profile competitions from Maine to Washington State. Her paintings have won numerous awards and honors.
She uses mixable oil colors in thin washes with a limited tonalist palette and often evoke nostalgia, like old sepia tone photographs.
More about Les Poissons Gallery may be found here.