William R. Davis: Personal Reflections: A Retrospective Collection
July 3 - August 3
Gallery Talk: Thursday, July 10, 2 pm
Reception: Thursday, July 10, 5:30 - 7 pm
William R. Davis is one Cape Cod’s best-known artists, recognized nationally as well as locally for his beautiful luminist maritime scenes. “Personal Reflections: A Retrospective Collection by William R. Davis,” an exhibition of representative paintings produced during the past 35 years of his distinguished career, will run from Thursday, July 3, through Sunday, Aug. 3, at the Cape Cod Museum of Art.
Davis – who now resides in Harwich – grew up in Hyannis Port in the 1950s and ’60s and began taking sailing lessons at age 10. As a student at Barnstable High School he spent as much time as possible in the art rooms, but went to work for his father’s heating and air conditioning company not long after graduation. In his late 20’s, however, he began painting in oils at night, teaching himself to work in the manner of such 19th-century luminist painters as Martin Johnson Heade, Antonio Jacobsen and Fitz Hugh Lane. He quickly found buyers for his work and by 1982 – the year he turned 30 – was painting full time. In 1987, Davis became the first artist honored with a one-person show at the prestigious Mystic Maritime Gallery in Mystic, Conn. All 20 works in that show sold at the opening reception.
Davis went on to earn many other honors, including inclusion in innumerable one-person and group exhibitions. He’s a Fellow Member in the American Society of Marine Artists. The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod selected him as its official Pops by the Sea artist in 2012. When American Artist Magazine ran an in-depth article about his work in its April 2001 issue, one of his paintings was also reproduced on the magazine’s cover.
Although best-known for his marine scenes, Davis has also mastered other subjects, including landscapes, particularly of the White Mountains, Yosemite and Tuscany; floral arrangements in Nantucket baskets; and trompe l’oeil still lifes.
Partially influenced by his friendship with noted artists Joseph McGurl and Donald Demers, Davis has shifted to painting more plein air landscapes on location in recent years. This has given him the opportunity to carefully observe such atmospheric conditions as sunrises, sunsets and other changes in light; the effects of the wind; and the movement of the waves. He’s especially thrilled whenever he finds a view that seems to transcend time – a scene that looks much the same today as it did in the 1800s.
Illuminating Our Permanent Collection: Modernism and the Cape Cod Landscape
June 26 - August 10
Gallery Talk with Cindy Nickerson: Thursday, June 26, 2 pm
Reception: Thursday, July 10, 5:30 - 7 pm
Many artists who worked on Cape Cod during the first seven decades of the 20th century were fascinated by such modernist trends as Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism. Yet, at the same time, some were moved to respond artistically to the Cape’s environment. “Illuminating Our Permanent Collection: Modernism and the Cape Cod Landscape” will explore the ways in which some of the Cape’s most important artists exploited the region’s charms while pushing the artistic envelope.
“Modernism and the Cape Cod Landscape” is an “Illuminating Our Permanent Collection” exhibition, the first in a series of periodic shows inspired by areas of strength or distinction within the Cape Cod Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Sparking the theme for the show – and forming the core of the exhibition – are some 10 works culled from the collection, including paintings by Blanche Lazzell, Agnes Weinrich, George Grosz, Lawrence Kupferman, Vernon Smith, and Kenneth Stubbs. Additional works borrowed from private collections and galleries will help put the museum works in context: We grow in our appreciation for these familiar pieces by understanding the scope of the larger art historical framework. What other artists were working in a similar fashion? Defining “landscape” in the broad sense of the word (meaning anything conveying a sense of the place), what aspects of the Cape landscape inspired the Modernists? Did they – in their nontraditional approaches – sacrifice something of the Cape’s special look and feeling? If so, what did they gain?
Cubism – the avant-garde art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque – was highly influential among American artists during the early part of the 1900s; and, on the Cape, it manifested itself through many different approaches. One of the standouts of “Modernism and the Cape Cod Landscape” is “Pilgrim Point,” a major canvas by Karl Knaths. It succeeds in capturing the rarified light of Provincetown while remaining primarily abstract. Two paintings reflect Spanish American artist Xavier Gonzalez’s predilection for interpreting sailboats along cubistic lines. Cubism also informs two paintings by Vernon Smith, who came to Provincetown to study with Charles W. Hawthorne, then settled in Orleans. His “Fishing Port” and “Beach at Nauset” are realistic to a point, but with a certain kaleidoscope-like fragmentation. “Webster House,” a painting by E. Ambrose Webster – the founder of one of the earliest summer schools in Provincetown – falls into the subcategory of Synthetic Cubism, where shapes are geometrically simple and flattened. His wife – a bit improbably – poses nude in front of their home, along with a grand potted plant. The two second-floor windows of the house seem to steal a peek – their curtains like partially lowered eyelids.
Other styles are represented as well. George Grosz, the German artist especially famous for his biting social caricature, gave a surrealistic air to “Driftwood,” a 1940 oil on canvas of the Provincetown dunes. Provincetown artist Oliver Newberry Chaffee explored multiple early 20th-century styles – one of the earliest being a bold form of Impressionism. His “Provincetown Garden” is alive with bold, vivid painterly strokes, with one large blue and purple shadow becoming almost a form unto itself.
Images; top: Oliver Newberry Chaffee, "Provincetown Garden"; bottom: Xavier Gonzalez, "Inland Sea"
Treasures from the Cahoon Museum of American Art
June 19 - September 7
Reception: Thursday, July 10, 5:30 - 7pm
Gallery Talk by Cindy Nickerson: Thursday, July 17, 2 pm
Over the summer, one Cape Cod art museum will devote one of its galleries to showing artwork from the permanent collection of another. “Treasures from the Cahoon Museum of American Art” opens Thursday, June 19, and continue through Sunday, September 7.
This winter, the Cahoon Museum of American Art established temporary quarters at 9 North St. in Mashpee Commons during the restoration of its 1775 Georgian Colonial building in Cotuit. Given that its wall space will be much reduced for an indefinite period of time, the Cape Cod Museum of Art proposed this exhibition of works from the Cahoon’s permanent collection. Twenty pieces will be on view in the Polhemus Savery DaSilva Gallery, including many superb examples of the paintings of Ralph and Martha Cahoon, the celebrated folk artists who lived and worked in the old Colonial home for many years. Several works from Cahoon Museum’s choice collection of 19th- and early 20th-century American art will also be part of the mix.
The hope is that both museums will benefit from this collaborative effort. The Cahoon’s charming and beautiful works will be a treat for Cape Cod Museum of Art visitors. At the same time, the exhibition is sure to win many new admirers for the Cahoon Museum.
Image: Ralph Cahoon, "Oriental Scene"
John Babineau: Elements of Passion - A soccer fan watches the World Cup
June 12 - August 10
Reception: June 12, 5:30 - 7 pm
Gallery Talk: June 19, 2 pm
Back in the summer of 1998, John Babineau combined his expertise in photography with his enthusiasm for soccer. As he holed up in a darkened room to watch the World Cup tournament on television, he shot images of the matches much as if he’d been a sports photographer at the actual stadiums. “Elements of Passion: A soccer fan Watches the World Cup” – a representative sample of his efforts – will run from Thursday, June 12, through Sunday, July 17, in the Ocean Edge Gallery.
Babineau, who now lives in South Yarmouth, used black-and-white film for the project but later applied monotone color filtration in a traditional darkroom to enhance the content and distinguish thematic groupings. He made no effort to disguise the intermediary of the TV screen: Each shot appears in the familiar format of a rectangle with rounded corners and is somewhat “soft,” with subtle lines running across it horizontally. For Babineau, this “impressionistic” effect was the perfect way to record the on-field action – and the accompanying agonies and ecstasies – of a sport that’s full of gritty poetry.
Babineau is represented by Miller White Fine Arts, Dennis, MA.