CYNTHIA MAURICE & DAVID CAMPBELL AT THE BRICKBOTTOM GALLERY
By Rhiannon Leigh
Somerville, Mass. – Cartoons are not typically considered for the philosophical canon, but one New Yorker cartoon captioned “The meaning of life is having a spectacular view” gave meaning to much of the work featured in “Out the Window & Around the Town” at the Brickbottom Artist Association’s Gallery. Featuring work by David Campbell and Cynthia Maurice, the exhibition draws from the changing cityscape overlooking Boston between 1987, when the Brickbottom Artist Association first opened, through today.
As I walked into the workspace of Cynthia Maurice, with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee filling the room and the mid-afternoon light poured in from the large glass windows overlooking the city, I noticed several works of flowers not far away from a vase of daffodils on the countertop and it was clear that much of her work was inspired from nature.
Working in a variety of mediums, including transfer monoprints, lithoprints, drawing and painting, Maurice finds herself drawing more than anything else. With an established career in the arts, Maurice remains humble and knows how important it is to practice, stating “Drawing is much less time consuming… I always have my sketchbooks on hand to practice. If I’m at a stop light, I’ll do a quick drawing.”
When asked about her process and the challenges that come with working from observation rather than photographs, Maurice noted, “there is a difference between short and sweet and taking things slowly.” She was speaking in particular about two works featured in the Brickbottom show — “Arrival of Geese,” charcoal & pastel on paper, in which she was forced to work quickly, and “City Skyline – Twilight,” oil on linen, where she came back to the piece over a period of time, noting that “the benefit of oil paint is that you’re forced to slow down,” and that despite her changing interests, “twilight is my favorite time.”
The exhibition has a certain sense of yin and yang, with the work of Maurice and Campbell complementing each other perfectly. Where Maurice focuses much of her work on cityscapes and will come back to a work a year after beginning it in order to get it correct, Campbell is able to capture sunrises, sunsets and clouds as they happen. Campbell’s “Trainyards & City with Snow” and “Green Line Construction” exemplify the ever-changing cityscape, where the former features a bridge that has since been torn down.
Campbell also perfectly executes the differences in sunrise and sunset in his works “City Sunset,” “Winter” and City Sunset, Summer,” focusing on light and color as well as the highly realistic execution of the clouds.
(“Out the Window & Around the Town” is on display until February 27 at the Brickbottom Gallery, 1 Fitchburg Street, Somerville, is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (617) 776-3410.)