Work by David Estey.

David Estey is showing his work in “Emergent Phenomena” at Cove Street Arts through Dec. 31.

An opening reception was held Oct. 27. An artist talk will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 8.

In his own words, Estey says, “Over the past 70-plus years, I have worked in many different styles, from realism and classic figure drawings to abstract expressionism. Now my painting is almost totally improvisational –—an exploration of marks on a surface that justify themselves. Yet it is so much more. As a Mainer, I cannot escape the serene beauty of the snowy fields, the blue-black waters and the rugged coast; the harsh realities of life here; the down east sense of humor, my parallel career in public affairs, or the major issues facing humanity. They inevitably emerge in my work.

“I don’t consciously intend to address those issues, they bubble up in the creative process. Although I paint with no preconceived notions or expected outcomes, years of extensive study and experience invariably produce something new and surprising.

“I have fun using whatever tools at hand to apply, remove and reapply the paint to canvas, paper or panels, sometimes adding collage. I draw on all the elements and principles of design to create a visually exciting whole. I love the process — the way the paint goes down, the look of thick impastos and thin glazes, the similarity to textured collagraphs and rich aquatints, the search for new forms and the emergence of intriguing narratives. I embrace the influence of Willem de Kooning, Pablo Picasso and many others.

“My finished pieces are sometimes nonrepresentational but more often, oddly narrative, which I may or may not understand. That’s okay with me. In the end, I want to be as surprised and intrigued as anyone else by what I make.”

Cove Street Arts is at 71 Cove St., Portland. Call 207-808-8911, email, or go to for more information.

Written by: