(HOUSATONIC, Mass.) – SKY SLICE and The Pedestal Series, an exhibition of new work by painter Ann Getsinger, opens on Saturday, October 8, 2011, at Lauren Clark Fine Art with an artist’s reception from 4 to 7 p.m. This new exhibition of “stillscapes” by the well-known Berkshire artist will remain on display through November 7, 2011.
For the many followers of this longtime Berkshire (and Maine coast) painter’s work, this exhibit continues the trajectory of the “Stillscapes” first begun in the 1990s. Taking real objects and placing them in landscapes of the mind, places drawn from memory, dreams, imagination, Getsinger takes the “What, where, and when” and asks “Why?”
Evident in The Pedestal Series is the painter’s esteem for variety. Isolating and elevating a single object, it is placed atop something: a block of driftwood; an army helmet; or an upside down wooden salad bowl, etc., where it simply exists in a certain moment. Mining the ordinary for the extraordinary, the painter playfully asks questions as she presents unfolding or unfolded tales.
Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, October 22, 1956, Ann grew up in then-rural Watertown, beside a working dairy farm and miles of woods. The youngest of five, she was raised in an atmosphere of creative activity, to the explosive backdrop of the sixties and with a closeness to nature and agriculture. Every spare moment was spent drawing or riding horses. She won the Art Award in junior high and again in high school.
After first studying at Paier School of Art in New Haven, Conn., Getsinger then moved to the Berkshires, working as an illustrator and graphic designer before leaving to study at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1979. At that time San Francisco was experiencing the Punk movement, which overlapped with the remains of hippiedom and just preceded awareness of AIDS. Getsinger studied under abstract expressionist Hassel Smith and worked on an Alice Aycock installation. While on the West Coast, she traveled to the lagoons of central Baja, Mexico, to witness the annual return of the California grey whales.
In 1980, Getsinger returned to New England, living first in coastal Maine and then the Berkshires, where she met and studied informally with representational artist Sheldon “Shelly” Fink. Fink introduced the young artist to the tradition of realism, the working methods, materials, and philosophical perspective — something for which she’d hungered.
The two lived together, created a business, and formed a friendship which lasted until Fink’s death in 2002. (In the 1950s, Shelly Fink was a member of a group of realist painters in New York City which formed after World War II, a group that went against the then-current fashion of modernism, relating instead to the long line of realists extending from Rembrandt and Vermeer through Sorolla, Kathe Kollwitz, and especially to Thomas Eakins. Among their group were David Levine, Harvey Dinnerstein, and Herbert Steinberg.)
In 1988, Getsinger bought her home, which had previously been a laundry building on a once elegant turn-of-the-century estate, in the rural southern Berkshire hill town of New Marlborough, Mass. In the late 1970s, the estate had been the home of Fluxism founder George Maciunas, where he was visited by John Lennon and Fluxist artist Yoko Ono. In 2002, Getsinger designed and constructed a studio building just a few steps from her home. Its design, with three tall windows to the north, was inspired by the studio of late 19th- early-20th century sculptor Daniel Chester French at Chesterwood in nearby Glendale, Mass.
Beginning in childhood, a lifelong connection with the coast of Maine was forged, with summers spent at her family’s cottage near Port Clyde. It was through the nearby Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, that Getsinger came to know and appreciate the work of many Maine artists, most notably the work of N.C. Wyeth, his son Andrew Wyeth, and Andrew’s son Jamie Wyeth. The three generations, each remarkable in a distinctive way, have influenced her work significantly. She points out that she and N.C. Wyeth have the same birthday.
Ann Getsinger is a generalist in her life and in her work. Her interests include antique prints, historical ephemera, and photography, decorative arts, as well as natural history — her many shells, bones, seedpods, and a horse skull, along with odd toys and decorative hats, fill her studio. She’s a voracious reader of just about anything and cites Mad magazine as an early influence, noting especially the drawings of Don Martin. Some of Getsinger’s other artistic influences include the work of contemporary artists Julio Larraz and Walton Ford, as well as the late artists Gregory Gillespie, and friend and New Yorker cover artist Arthur Getz. Books in her library that rarely gather dust include those of Magritte, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Ann Getsinger’s oil paintings, while rooted in traditional realism, have evolved to include layers drawn from surrealism, memory, and imagination. The artist draws from her many interests combining still life, landscape, figurative, and imaginative work, to create a distinct point of view, her own realism with a playful and serious twist.
Lauren Clark Fine Art is located at 402 Park Street (Route 183) in Housatonic, Mass. Business hours are Thursday through Monday from 11 until 5:30 and Sunday from noon until 4. For more information call 413.274.1432, or visit Lauren Clark Fine Art.