Art around the Har­bour

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - WEEKEND LIFE - BY JOAN SUL­LI­VAN

This solo ex­hi­bi­tion in­cludes eight pieces which, to­gether, por­tray a kind of multi-di­men­sional por­trait of a har­bour. It’s shown as a spot to con­gre­gate, a site for com­merce, and a source of restora­tion.

Artist Kathy Mar­lene Bai­ley “is in­spired by the old mas­ters ap­proach to oil paint­ing,” the in­vi­ta­tion notes. ‘Old Mas­ters’ is a broad term, to say the least, not de­lib­er­ately vague but en­com­pass­ing many tech­niques that de­vel­oped with chang­ing tech­nol­ogy. But here we can see it in­di­cates a painterly re­al­ism with clas­si­cal con­fig­u­ra­tion and bal­ance to the sub­ject, whether a seascape or a per­son.

In “Old Per­li­can Har­bour Se­ries: Night­fall Over the Har­bour” (glazed oil on can­vas, 26” x 36”-most of the works are around this size), for ex­am­ple, the broad seren­ity of the sky is re­flected in the calm ocean, with rib­bons of wharf light un­spool­ing at the bot­tom. It’s the magic hour, lots of soft but tan­gi­ble fad­ing day­light with small punches of elec­tric il­lu­mi­na­tion. It’s a fa­mil­iar scene, but even if you saw it ev­ery day on your way home you would still stop and look. In this frame the brush­strokes add an al­lur­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tive sheen. It is al­ways nice to see well-painted wa­ter.

“I Look to the West” (oil on can­vas) floats on tran­quil rip­ples. Small open boats draft at an­chor on the right hand side. The yel­lows and pinks and blues in the wa­ter ebb and in­ter­flow with a del­i­cacy you can al­most dip your hands into.

The pal­ette is al­ways nat­u­ral, and the forms rep­re­sen­ta­tional. Boat rig­ging and masts, tow­er­ing in­dus­trial lights, a nub of elec­tric mo­tor-all quite clear. The ob­jects are func­tional, not em­bel­lished. What lends it-no, im­bues it with-such beauty is the setting and the ren­der­ing of it. A har­bour means open wa­ter head­ing out un­der open sky. Who doesn’t like to watch the chang­ing sky? Who isn’t cu­ri­ous to see whose boat is com­ing in?

The sea­sons (and per­spec­tive) change with “Tucked at Daniel’s Cove” (oil on can­vas). It is win­ter, and the wa­ter is frozen, or at least stogged with snow, and the dom­i­nant fea­ture is a house. There are no lights on in­side; its A-frame and ve­randa de­sign sug­gest­ing a sum­mer place that is empty now.

Be­cause there is a very de­lib­er­ate social ele­ment to this ex­hi­bi­tion. Bai­ley sees the har­bour as a hub for work and so­cial­iz­ing. Like in “Old Per­li­can Har­bour Se­ries: The Food Fish­ery” (glazed oil on can­vas), where four fig­ures gather to ex­am­ine their catch. Or “Old Per­li­can Har­bour Se­ries: Har­bour Chat” (glazed oil on can­vas), which doesn’t show the har­bour at all, but an older man, sit­ting in the front seat of his ve­hi­cle, win­dow rolled down, mid-con­ver­sa­tion.

But the wa­ter is of­ten the re­flec­tive fo­cus. As in “Three Small Boats” (oil on can­vas), which sets the boats above their mir­ror im­ages. Th­ese are util­i­tar­ian craft, pur­pose­built, white trimmed with blue, black num­bers painted on their bows. But now their pleas­ing scal­lop shapes are twinned by the calm sil­ver and blue sea.

“Har­bour” con­tin­ues at the Christina Parker Gallery un­til Sep. 4.


“Old Per­li­can Har­bour Se­ries, Wharf,” by Kathy Mar­lene Bai­ley.


“Old Per­li­can Har­bour Se­ries, The Food Fish­ery,” by Kathy Mar­lene Bai­ley.

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