“Schoodic Surf,” by William Irvine.

Courthouse Gallery Fine Art presents two solos shows — “William Irvine: New Explorations” and “Tom Curry: Gradients of Light” — on view at the gallery from July 13 through Aug. 7. Both artist happen to live in the same Maine village of Brooklin.

The shows are also available for online viewing at www.courthousegallery.com.

“William Irvine: New Explorations” highlights new work by William Irvine, a Scottish/American painter. With his new work, Irvine explores the picture plane by shifting it into three parts like a triptych, except the three panels are contained within one canvas. Irvine has always been aware of composition when he paints for balance and strength, and for how it can be used to affect the emotions. This new three-dimensional effect enlivens his picture and gives the viewer a feeling of movement—be it waves or clouds—that elicits a more emotional response.

Irvine was born in the town of Troon on the Scottish coast. Here he was introduced to modern art through the collection of whiskey magnate Johnnie Walker. After graduating from the Glasgow School of Art and serving in the Scottish army, Irvine came of age in London where he was a part of a lively avant-garde art scene. In 1968, Irvine moved to downeast Maine and was immediately drawn to the fishing villages of Corea and Jonesport, whose tidy houses reminded him of the white farms dotting the green hills of Scotland. Here, harbors, islands and boats, and the sea and the sky, inspired bold work based on a life lived by the sea. Two driving forces fuel his pictorial concepts: abstraction and representation. Irvine brings these antithetical elements into balance with his poetic sensibility and the richness of his textural compositions.

“King Tide,” by Tom Curry.

“Tom Curry: Gradients of Light” highlights recent work by Tom Curry, a preeminent painter of place who paints near his home in Brooklin. The show includes several new portraits of Chatto, an island just offshore from Curry’s home that has become the subject of an ongoing series of more than 60 paintings.

In the essay for the exhibition catalog, art historian Carl Little explains how Curry’s work captures the mood of the country in these uncertain times: In two of them, the island almost disappears within what he calls “gradients of light” that resonate up and down the picture plane. This vision, he explains, is almost like obliteration, but the island does not disappear. Mirage-like, Chatto becomes a manifestation of one’s desire to find something enduring in the view — in what can sometimes be a dark world. We find solace and beauty in his profoundly blue skies, his tousled clouds, resilient rocks and ethereal islands.

A plein-air painter at heart, Curry is most at home working outdoors. “I still can’t believe how gorgeous it [Maine] is; it’s serene, but disheveled; it’s raw and not overly organized.” For Curry, the landscape is more than a passive backdrop of scenery. His work explores the passing of time and the relationship between stillness and flux. He wants the viewer to feel alive — to experience the wild, muscular and ultimately unknowable mysteries of natural forces that are breathing, ever changing and seamless. The enduring magnetism of Curry’s island paintings has been his ability to depict what he calls the paradox of place: “It is not fixed but always changing — the light shifts from moment to moment, water is never still, clouds come and go.”

Courthouse Gallery is located at 6 Court St. in Ellsworth. For more information on upcoming shows, call 207-667-6611, or visit www.courthousegallery.com.

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Categories:   Ellsworth, exhibitions, gallery, shows