Our guest columnist this week is School Street resident Kirk Etherton. http://bagelbards.com
Bridget Galway and I both have exhibits at the Somerville Public Library (Central Branch) for the month of February. Also, we’re both Somerville residents—plus members of the Bagel Bards writing group—so Doug Holder suggested I write up a conversation/review involving our visual art. Bridget liked the idea; we met and talked (quietly, of course!) at the library.
Kirk Etherton: We admire each other’s work. It’s funny how there’s zero similarity. Most of what I’m exhibiting—here, and also at ZuZu, in Central Square—is found pieces of picture frames, glued together, which I’ve taught myself how to do over the last 10 years. You’re a painter, with credentials.
Bridget Galway: Yes, it’s interesting. I have a BFA painting & Art Education from UMass Amherst.
KE: …whereas I have a degree in Political Science from the University of Vermont. As a would-be painter, I appreciate your ability to work with oil, watercolors, ink& acrylic, pastels, anything.
BG: Thanks. Actually, that’s made it hard for me to get gallery representation, since I don’t have one set style.
KE: Many of the 21 paintings hanging here are very moving character studies. One of the most striking is you, with your son as a young boy.
BG: The colors are very intense there: I squeezed the paint directly from the tube onto the canvas. No mixing.
KE: I hear people saying your paintings evoke anyone from Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, to Matisse or Picasso.
BG: So I’m in good company.
KE: Right. And they remark on your subjects’ eyes—maybe soulful, beautiful, troubled, but always clear and memorable.
BG: One of my favorite paintings is Closing Time.
KE: …where clearly, the subject coming towards us is off-balance, and you also capture something in the yellow from the streetlight, reflected in his eyes.
BG: I’ve been a bartender on and off most of my life. Growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, in places like Key West and Greenwich Village, I was surrounded by people like that. It was part of a “Bohemian Lifestyle” which made a big impact on my art.
KE: Your show here is sort of a 35-year retrospective. What is your artistic focus now?
BG: I want to start doing more three-dimensional work. And recently I’ve been inspired by a lot of the things you’ve made.
KE: Really? In what way?
BG: One thing is how you use negative space so it becomes its own composition, like a sibling to the solid form. Then you have these shadows, and all the elements are very interrelated. It’s dynamic, but peaceful. There’s a certain Mondrian quality, a spirtuality, to your work.
KE: Well, thank you very much. Is there anything else you’d like to say about your current interests?
BG: I should add that I still love working as a commissioned portrail artist. It’s always satisfying to paint the essence of someone.
KE: How can prospective clients get in touch with you?
BG: They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I had a great website, but it’s being worked on, seriously updated.
KE: OK. Well, this has been fun. Thanks.
BG: To you, too. And to this beautiful library