June 30, 2013

Art Review: Lose yourself at sea ... at Elizabeth Moss


(Continued from page 1)

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“Night Sea” by Richard Keen.

Images courtesy of Elzabeth Moss Galleries

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“Re: Flecting” by Lyle Salmi

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Elizabeth Moss Galleries, 251 U.S. Route One, Falmouth (in the Falmouth Shopping Center)

WHEN: Through July 21

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday

INFO: 781-2620; elizabethmossgalleries.com

Keen's work gracefully looks through the lens of nautical engineering back toward nature. In "Sea Geometry No. 194," for example, he applies cross-sections of boat designs to the horizon and central lines of the nautical landscape. The implication is that, for practical and material reasons, people have emulated natural design.

Keen reminds us that long before we had calculus to describe the complex forms (hyperbolic paraboloids) of things like hull forms, we looked to nature's shells, plants and mineral structures as examples.

Through boats, weirs, nets and other accoutrements of Maine's nautical culture, Keen reveals a perception of nature. He finds the landscape horizon in the orientation of a boat, the tides in the placement of a weir, trees and aerodynamics in the hull of a boat, and so on.

Keen's 7-foot "Wreck of the D.T. Sheridan" presents the echoes of a lost ship not only as a ghost in the landscape, but the landscape as the pre-figuration of the ship. The emphasized outlines of the wizened hills and carved coast match the form of the absent vessel.

The effect is more metaphysical than Keen's other works. Despite the danger of nostalgia, this has great potential as a new direction for the artist.

At the other end of Keen's work is "Night Sea," a small, highly abstract work with a surface built up of oil and encaustic that equals the density of Hynes' impasto textures.

"Night Sea" presents as a taut, formalist black-lined composition of blues and teals, but over time quietly unfurls its logic and forms -- both nautical and landscape. It's a gem.

While Keen's work alone gets in my wheelhouse, I think almost any fan of modernist coastal painting will find "Surface, Light and Structure" to be an unusually interesting gallery show.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:



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Additional Photos

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Richard Keen’s “Wreck of the D.T. Sheridan.”

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“Gull Cliff” by Frances Hynes.

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“Sea” by Frances Hynes.

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