Barbara Brady's "Land-Marks" at Gallery 170
Lincoln County News, August 27, 2009

By Renee Lauzon

All over Maine art is teeming, and in Lincoln County proper, great artwork is everywhere, though sometimes, one must work a little harder to find it.

Down the narrow roads of Damariscotta Mills lies a gem of a contemporary art gallery, Gallery 170 at the Yellow Church. Since its inception in 2005, curator Yvette Torres has been creating an art space that is "committed to excellence."

Indeed, artist Barbara Brady's Land-Marks is a testament to that commitment. Throughout Brady's current show, she is drawing upon her experience as a plein-air painter, using natural patterns to create landscapes within landscapes; little worlds within larger spaces, drawing one up close to the very surface of the paint.

Nose to nose with "Solitude," pale peach, sky blue, and yellow ochre shape this composition into a towering wall of color. At its peak, the landscape cascades back down from three pouring-like gestures of thinned paint. THe drips and cracks from oils mixing and drying evoke a springtime shower.

From a distance, "Stonington" appears to be remnants of landscapes, stripped bare and fractured like a cubist painting, yet upon closer examination, it is realized within each stroke of paint, each scratch upon the canvas, each delicate line placed ever so thoughtfully, framing a larger area, that there is life brimming over the entire surface. A life that surpasses the stark realism of perception and sails straight through into pure thrumming of energy within each breath of nature.

"Dividing Line" pulls back into the recognizable structure of land and sky with raw umber separating the horizon. Peach and yellow ochre are added with lavender and blue to shape the rolling hills against otherwise flat planes. The variation in line weight and line direction calms the abstraction to a pleasant solution.

Fervent marks of green, umber, and lavender, coupled with ecstatic scratches, drips, and scribbles, make the surface of "The Cows Are Out" a sensory delight. Each layer of paint added, scraped off, then re-added, pulls together into an art-making narrative, a story of struggle, playfulness, laughter, and then pure bliss when it all comes into focus.

The process of art-making is much like the process of life. The intention is direct but the experience is very emotional and intuitive. Brady's oil paintings are operating at the very core of intuition and expression. Glimpses of inexplicable moments are distilled into brushstrokes and colors.

Gallery 170 and the work of Barbara Brady is a testament that art in Maine can and does go against the grain of what is expected. For that, all should be eternally grateful.