Abstract and landscape gleam at Good Purpose

Surfaces shimmer like water at sunrise. The paintings are layered in color, in oils and Venetian plaster or encaustic pigments in hot beeswax. Patricia Hogan and Marcelene I. Mosca share their work, abstraction spilling into landscape, cityscape and motion, in Two Perspectives, a new exhibit at the Good Purpose Gallery of CIP (the College Internship Program), hanging in a broad, light room around tables for the Starving Artist Crêperie next door.

Good Purpose often recognizes neurodiverse artists in its shows, said Amy LeFebvre, as the artists unwrapped canvasses in the gallery. This is one of the few exceptions this year —  two regional artists, Hogan in Great Barrington and Marcelene in Lenox, are renewing an old connection.

Hogan taught Mosca in an art class 20 years ago, and they are enjoying the chance to come together again in this show.

Hogan’s was the first art class Mosca ever took, her first try at painting after decades as a poet. In those lessons, she began to translate the sensibility of her poems into color.

She takes classes at the Art Student League in New York City and joins forces locally with the Guild of Berkshire Artists.

Poetry is often solitary work, she said, and painting has given her a community of fellow artists and mentors.

She has found a new source of energy in abstracts and Venetian plaster, a historic technique that has grown out of the architecture of a city built on the water. China, India and Egypt have used and tinted plaster for thousands of years; Venice refined it into lightweight walls, and painted frescoes on them.

Contemporary painters have translated the form onto wood panels and primed canvas, and Mosca finds the feel of it deeply satisfying: building up textures in cold wax and oil paint, and learning the different consistencies of plasters and primers.

She loves the feeling of depth and hands-on texture they give, she said, and the texture of oils, substantial and real.

Hogan began painting as a watercolorist in college, and she still paints in watercolors, but recently she has fallen head over heals for encaustic, with wax, resin and color in translucent layers. The light and shine of it draw her in.

“I can put something down and obscure it,” she said, “put something down on top of it, take something away and reveal something more.”

“It’s like the old masters glazing,” LeFebvre said, painting thin, transparent layers over solid colors to give a glow.

“Encaustic means ‘to burn in,” Hogan agreed warmly. “The Greeks found they could use wax to caulk their ships, and then they started painting with it.”

“It shows how people can create with anything,” LeFebvre said.

“I once took a class on painting with earth.” Hogan recalled the color and feel of different shades of loam, sand, clay. “My Garden is different from yours. Sift it, mix it with hide glue, and it becomes a pigment. I’ve dyed with plants, with my kids. We’ve made wonderful colors (from plants) in our backyard.”

Her work can blend landscape and abstract, like the bare ridgeline shading down into muscular red and gold in Winter, a work that also appeared this summer in the Art of the Hills show at Berkshire Museum and won Best in Show.

Good Purpose gave Hogan and Mosca more than a year to create and curate work for the show, and they chose the pieces to hang there.

Hogan said she has known and loved the gallery since it opened.

She values CIP’s work and feels a connection with it, as she has taught artists with disabilities for more than 15 years with Community Access for the Arts, as well as giving workshops at Norman Rockwell Museum, Berkshire Botanical Garden, Naumkeag, Bartholomew’s Cobble and the Housatonic Valley Art League.

“It’s great to have people who understand our mission and the environment here,” LeFebvre said.

The name Good Purpose comes from CIP’s mantra for the students, said Michael McManmon, founder of CIP and an artist on the spectrum himself. He tells them that they are on the earth for a good purpose — they are inherently valuable to the world, as they are. Some have had good teachers over the years, he said, but they often a sense of well-being and self-esteem.

“You can’t give someone self-esteem,” he said, “but you can help (them find it for themselves).”

help them to build skills. They are often very intelligent in specific areas — they may know everything about the Boston Red Sox, up to the players’ birthdays and batting averages, but find it hard to get out of bed and go to work and talk with people. And they may not think they need to.

But they can build these skills, McManmon said. They can learn to think of themselves as competent, to form friendships and change the way they think of themselves. And art can become a powerful tool for them, as they learn to capture the way they see the world.

 

Images from top left: Dancer by Marceline I. Mosca; Winter by Patricia Hogan, an abstract work in oils and Venetial plaster by Marceline I. Mosca and an encaustic work by Patricia Hogan, courtesy of the artists and Good Purpose Gallery. The Image at the top os a close-up of Winter, an encaustic work by Patricia Hogan, courtesy of the artist and Good Purpose Gallery

 

Close Look

What: Two Perspectives, Patricia Hogan and Marcelene I. Mosca

Where: Good Purpose Gallery,

When: Sept. 12 through Monday, Nov. 13, with an opening reception on Friday, Sept. 28, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: 40 Main St., Lee

Information: 413-394-5045, goodpurpose.org

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