Laura Shabott is not only an artist who has undergone what she calls “circuitous” life processes to find herself back at painting, drawing and figurative art, she is also, undoubtedly, an intuitive mark maker, a conduit for a glimmering network of centuries of artistic tradition in Provincetown and a person who greets each day boldly using her artistic voice.
She creates directly from life, transmuting with a fearless hand all that she’s absorbed, cutting visual planes with lucid intent. Bearing the art colony’s lineage in lightening strokes, her gestural paintings and drawings in gouache, charcoal and oil refresh what one may or may not know of the rich, abstract expressionist tradition on the Cape Cod peninsula. Shabott is constantly referencing a greater legacy: Hans Hofmann, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell. These artists, who worked and lived where she works and lives, are pivotal to her practice. Accents of their processes, colors and approaches to form can be found in the fluency of her mark making.
And yet, while Shabott has been in town for quite some time, while her gifted artistry is rooted in concrete place and unshakable truth, her story is still one of return. There are inevitably voices that say we cannot be who we are and do what we would like to do, at any age, and she consciously refutes those voices by painting, and painting now, at this time in her life.
At 61 years old, her response to the call of visual artistry succeeds 23 years in the performing and literary arts. Her first solo exhibition, “Returning: Gestural Oil Paintings,” opened at Four Eleven Gallery on August 31. Always a process-driven artist, Shabott trusts the time it has taken to arrive here. The show features new works celebrating her steadfast engagement with exhilarating experimentation, emboldening anyone who may be hesitant to begin or begin again.
Shabott trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) — now SMFA at Tufts — in Boston, pursuing interdisciplinary studies in studio art and theater. Taking the stage post-graduation, she integrated herself into the vital and diverse Provincetown art scene, performing with the Provincetown Community Theater and the Tennessee Williams Festival. Proximity to so many galvanized and inventive actors, authors and painters in the historic art colony was invigorating, she said, and her unending interest in the thriving cultural atmosphere inspired a regional-arts writing career in 2008. In 2015, she wrote an article for Artscope featuring the life and work of Paul Resika, now one of her major influences. The desire to resume an earnest painting practice on her own terms confronted her viscerally and with undeniable urgency. Shabott responded to the call, unwavering in her commitment.