While on sabbatical for the 2012-13 academic year, veteran St. Mark’s art teacher continues to pursue her muse. From September 2012 into January of 2013, her work is being shown at the McGladrey Art Gallery in Charlestown, MA. The exhibit is WOOD: Kyle Downs, Nick Edmonds, Rose Olson, Barbara Putnam: a group show highlighting different approaches to the medium. The exhibition includes sculpture, painting, and prints. Utilizing the rich natural color and grain, or the historic techniques of carving and joinery each of the four exhibiting artists is dedicated to the beauty and utility of wood. The artists where selected for this exhibit for the diverse approaches to the medium and their ever so slight similarities in style. Curating the exhibit is Christina Neuman Godfrey ’97, a former student of Ms. Putnam’s and currently Collection Manager/Curator at the McGladrey Gallery and Director of Contemporary & Corporate Art at Sunne Savage Gallery.
Ms. Putnam, a printmaker, has been teaching at St. Mark’s since 1979. During her sabbatical year she is the 2012-2013 Coastal Studies artist in residence at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine. Putnam’s large scale prints, some up to 50 x 60 inches, illustrate her mastery of woodblock carving and printmaking. Her primary focus is on wetlands and fragile, transitional ecosystems as seen her prints of seaweed, water lilies, forest streams, and tidal seascapes. Her prints possess a complexity that beckons the viewer to get lost in the depth and details of the composition. Putnam is currently beginning a fellowship aboard a Barkentine Tall Ship, sailing north of the Arctic Circle.
Art has always been part of Christina Godfrey’s experience. “With my father, Robert S. Neuman, being a painter and my mother, Sunne Savage, being an art dealer, the arts have played a large role in my life,” she says. Her St. Mark’s experience was also a tremendous influence on her choice of career. “I remember art classes with Barbara Putman and Aggie Belt fondly,” she recalls. “My most meaningful and symbolic memory with Barb was curating an exhibition of my father's artwork which was installed throughout the campus (library, science and athletic wings). I didn't know it then, but that was my first exercise in what would be my professional career. Most interesting then (still today) is the flow of art from one piece to another and location to location. A close second is artistic process; in that early exhibition I explored through sketches and media displayed in glass cases in the library. My time at St. Mark’s School and experiences prior instilled in me an interest to bring art to people and places that have none, and to witness the positive effects that art has on those people and environments.”
Godfrey relishes the opportunity this exhibition offers. “I am honored to be exhibiting seven large scale prints of Barbara's in WOOD, the current exhibition at the McGladrey Art Gallery,” she says. “Barbara is departing shortly for a voyage sailing north of the Arctic Circle, where I predict she will be inspired to create glacial woodcuts to compliment arctic-scapes of Rockwell Kent, or Richard Estes. It is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity, and I look forward to seeing what she creates upon her return.”
Barbara Putnam’s work is well known both nationally and internationally. She was the first artist-in-residence at the Delta Wetlands and Waterfowl Research Station in Manitoba, Canada, working side by side with scientists conducting wetland and waterfowl research. Barbara conducts numerous workshops and special classes in printmaking, including Haystack Mt. School of Craft and Dartmouth College. Printing on both paper and fabric, her woodcut prints and quilts describe wetlands and fragile marine ecosystems. Barbara's work is included in public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Denver Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Yale University Art Museum, and the Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard University. Last year her work was exhibited at the Jyväskylä Centre for Printmaking in Jyväskylä, Finland. Reviewers have described Putnam’s work as “magnificent accomplishments”, “narratives about the landscape”, “ almost thunderous in its power”, and, as well, “a delicate achievement for so large a work”. Putnam describes her own creative process more matter-of-factly: “Working from numerous sketches made on site, I bring a block that has been stained black and draw right onto it, then carve it from memory back in the studio. I print the largest blocks with a wooden spoon and barren on Misu paper, a tough luminous Japanese rice paper.”
Putnam’s fellow artists in the McGladrey’s WOOD exhibit utilize a variety of styles. Kyle Downs combines richly color woods to create abstract wall reliefs. Nick Edmonds, Professor Emeritus at Boston University, fashions multi-directional multi-faceted sculptures that bridge puzzle-like construction and recognizable representation where landscapes are often derived from photographs or experience. Rose Olson, professor of Painting and Foundations and Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA, is a painter: her paintings are a composite of layers of translucent and opalescent paint too numerous to count and at the base of those layers- a birch panel. The grain adds an organic element to her simple linear compositions. These panels have a life of their own, ever changing depending on the light and spatial relation that can only be seen in person.
The WOOD exhibition at the McGladrey Gallery will run through January 4, 2013. There will be a reception at the gallery on Thursday, October 4, 2012 from 5:30-7:30 PM.
For information about seeing the show or attending the reception, contact Christina Godfrey at [email protected] or (508) 667-1062. For more information about the exhibit you can also visit her website: www.sunnesavage.com.