Like a brook trout swimming towards a feathery fly lure in a Berkshire stream, visitors of Three Stones Gallery in Concord, Massachusetts will find themselves reeled into the colorful watercolor paintings of such delicate flies by Gail Burr. Each painting is unique, featuring a hyper-realistic rendition of fishing flies with their reflective metal hooks, poly-yarn and feather quills. Some look spiky and menacing, like “Sparkle Soft Hackle” with long dark strands protruding from its body of green fibers, while others like “Backcountry Kinky Muddler” appear softer with a light gray fur deep green eye at the front.
Three Stones gallery manager Lyca Blume described how watercolor paintings generally cover a larger area or landscape with noticeable brush strokes, but Burr’s collection uses watercolor in each careful detail. The artist herself “appreciate[s] that each fly is a tiny unique piece of art in itself, with its own name and distinct purpose.” She captures the contrast between the sharp hooks and light feathers, bringing new life and perspective to this ordinary fishing ornament that can be shredded apart in seconds by a hungry trout.
Further back in the gallery, an oil painting titled “River Dance” by Robert Steinem carries viewers through an endless maze of birch trees mirrored in icy blue water. Blume admires its “surrealist quality” in the way it creates a dream-like atmosphere, leaving viewers pondering if they are observing the water or the land. They would also not know the artist’s story without reading the statement on the wall, but the story heavily influences Steinem’s process. After an injury suffered while serving in the Marines took his eyesight, he needed to relearn how to “see.” Steinem paints section-by-section with his nose close to the canvas and wears special glasses to guide his process, focusing on every small detail. Painting is a practice of constant discovery for him and one for the viewer too because with each line and movement, new meanings emerge.
Bob Hale’s woodworking also draws upon the wilderness and beauty of nature in his bowls and vases that are textured with sanded wood and also more rustic exposed bark. These two juxtaposing surfaces are brought together in one piece, showing how the bare bark obtained from fallen logs and bushes can be just as beautiful as a finished and polished wooden vessel. His mortar and pestle crafted from lilac wood at the gallery displays the lighter and darker elements of the wood grain with its growth rings that create an abstract, almost painterly-like surface. Still, this piece can function as a kitchen tool to grind spices and herbs.
The gallery immerses viewers in a variety of art mediums like manager Blume’s tribal-inspired beaded jewelry and Merill Comeau’s tapestries made of recycled linens and clothing to form, as she describes it, “narratives of repair and regeneration.”
After Three Stone’s current exhibit, “The ‘Lure’ of Nature,” encompassing the paintings of Burr and Jonathan MacAdam, who paints locally-inspired landscapes and Lisa Scala’s gemstone jewelry, ends on November 26, the gallery will hold its annual “Winter Bazaar” from November 29 to January 4 with an opening reception on Thursday, December 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. This show will feature many smaller artworks and handmade creations by local artists for sale for the holiday season.
(“The ‘Lure’ of Nature” remains on view through November 26 at Three Stones Gallery, 115 Commonwealth Ave., Concord, Massachusetts. For more information, visit threestonesgallery.com or call (978) 254-5932.)