Estey Exuberantly Welcomes Spring
by James Foritano
We wound our way north from Boston on Interstate 95, through its outlying industrial districts, marshes and bird sanctuaries, before leaving the highway for the twisty lanes of Newburyport’s colonial-era houses until we arrived at 3 Harris Street, home of the Paula Estey Gallery (PEG). The gallery, which celebrates its second anniversary on April 12, is welcoming spring through its “Encouraging the Bloom: Early Signs of Life Through Art” exhibition.
Newburyport, says Wikipedia, was settled in 1635, and when it applied for town status a little over a 100 years later, the Massachusetts General Court described its citizenry as chiefly composed of “merchants, traders and artificers” and, in outlying districts, “husbandmen.” This demographic, in the opinion of the general court, was a yeasty enough brew to warrant them a grant of township. Barely 100 years later, Newburyport was petitioning to be a city, and the rest is, as they say, history.
Fast forward to the present-day PEG, located just off busy State Street, and we are comfortably ensconced in what owner Paula Estey calls the “sitting gallery” of her eponymous nest of art. Leaning forward from the couch opposite, Estey is channeling her own roots in Newburyport’s “can do” ethic.
As a painter, she certainly qualifies as what the general court would have called an “artificer.” As for her status as “merchant/trader,” well, artscope has certainly taken note of that, with gratitude, as well. Less noticeably, in this den of art, is that we’re also inevitably beginning to calculate how that vigorously breaching sculpture of a raku whale by Lisa Victoria would look beside our own couch or sofa.
Next, we follow our hostess’ gaze just over our shoulder to a painting of out-sized poppies sporting velvety, dark centers and pulsing bonnets of modulated orange, each poised against a warm yellow background. Ron Emmerling’s acrylic-on-canvas “Spring Flowers” are certainly as vital as spring’s blooms and eminently fit to possess.