Spy Review: Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival – Week Two

The second week of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival fortnight of concerts opened with “Love Story”—not to be confused with the cloyingly saccharine 1970 novel and movie of the same title best remembered, or forgotten, by the line: “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” (Are you kidding? I’ve been in love with the same woman for decades and must have apologized a thousand times. But that’s another story.)

Pianist Diane Walsh

This “Love Story” celebrates the marriage and partnership of Clara and Robert Schumann, 19th-century musical geniuses whose lives are the stuff of tragic opera. Clara Wieck’s father so opposed her marriage to Robert Schumann that his daughter’s husband-to-be dragged him into court. Friedrich Wieck held such pride in Clara’s composing skills as well as her brilliance as a pianist that he feared her being subjugated by Robert, who would prove to be a loving but not entirely supportive spouse. The couple and their eight children—four of whom died young—lived on the earnings of Clara as a concert pianist. She had little time to write her own music and in any case gender bias restricted women composers from publishing or having their works performed in public. Meanwhile, her husband, who composed what is considered the first great chamber work for piano and string quartet—anchoring Wednesday’s recital at Easton’s Academy Art Museum—suffered the final in a series of mental breakdowns, condemning him to an asylum and early death.  It was in these last tortured years of his life that Clara, who survived Robert by four decades, wrote the sole chamber piece of her career, opening Wednesday’s concert.

Perhaps it is their personal story that influences my perception of these two masterpieces. But I cannot help but to classify, hopefully without gender bias, one as tenderly feminine and the other as virulently masculine.

Clara’s Piano Trio in G minor, Opus 17, as performed on the 200th anniversary year of her birth by pianist Diane Walsh, violinist Carmit Zori and cellist Marty Rosen, evokes a wistful remembrance of a treasured moment. Zori’s violin fulfills its melodic role throughout. In the lighter second movement scherzo, it leads us in a restless search perhaps for a place to lay one’s head, while in the third movement the weeping violin is echoed in tragic undertones by Rosen’s cello. The more hopeful finale is piano-driven as Walsh leads with dramatic flourishes to the string evocations of romantic sentiment.

J. Lawrie Bloom

By comparison, Robert’s quintet, taking advantage of the extra violin, here played with her usual flair by Catherine Cho, makes a defiantly robust statement as if announcing who’s boss. A soulful viola-and-cello duet, played by Maiya Papach and Rosen, leads to a big first movement finish with twin teardrop notes on violin. A wandering second movement—lost with no direction home—balances dual violin tenor against viola/cello baritone. A scherzo with agitative staccato riffs gives equal voice to all instruments racing pell-mell toward a pause before a final tumult that dives into a soft landing as if executed by an ace pilot—in this case a quintet of expert artists.

Week 2 of the chamber fest followed on the heels of Saturday’s gala at Easton’s Temple B’nai Israel, featuring clarinetist J. Lawrie Bloom performing in his finale as co-artistic director of the festival with cellist Rosen, Bloom’s co-founder/director, and violinist Cho, his successor in 2020. Bloom earlier distinguished himself, as ever, in the “Romantic Interlude” concert at the Academy Art Museum re-introducing Louise Farrenc’s trio for clarinet, cello and piano—a piece written by the only 19th-century female professor of the Paris Conservatory re-published at the dawn of this millennium. Bloom’s bright clarinet soared in contrast to Rosen’s emotional cello underpinning as pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute bridged the two with tonal stepping stones across their melodic river. That concert concluded with a Brahms piano quartet expressing the anguish of his unrequited love for Clara, now a widow, unwilling to share her life with his. Such are the inspirations for great art.

On Thursday, the festival makes its debut in Cambridge, followed by two more concerts Friday in Easton and Saturday in Oxford, wrapping up its 34th season.

Steve Parks is a retired journalist, arts critic and editor now living in Easton.

“From Rags to Riches” (concert, reception), Schubert, Brahms, Mozart, Lilburn, Psathas, Bolcom, Gershwin; 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, Christ Church, Cambridge
“Romancing and Dancing,” Clara Schumann, Ravel, Bartok, Dvorak; 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, Trinity Cathedral, Easton
“The Art of the String Quartet” (concert, reception), Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann; 4 p.m. Saturday, June 15, Oxford Community Center
Tickets/info: 410-819-0380, chesapeakemusic.org

 

 

Academy Art Museum Gala Celebrates 60th Anniversary in Derby Style

The Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD recently hosted its annual Spring Gala at Canterbury Manor, the home of Maxine and James Farrell. 

AAM Director Ben Simons (center) with Honorary Chairs Maxine and James Farrell, Carolyn Williams, Past President of the Museum’s Board of Trustees and Catherine McCoy, current President of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.

The Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD held its annual Spring Gala at Canterbury Manor, the beautiful Eastern Shore home of Maxine and James Farrell. Mrs. Farrell serves on the Museum’s Board of Trustees. The Gala welcomed some 230 guests in support of the mission of the Museum to “enhance cultural life on the Eastern Shore.”

Ben and Kelli Remo and Marla and Scott Best.

The elegant affair featured a Derby Day theme, and the Kentucky Derby was broadcast live at the event. The gorgeously appointed Canterbury Manor provided a beautiful canvas for the Museum’s largest annual fundraiser, which raised a significant portion of the Museum’s annual budget, in support of its service annually to 5,000 school children and 50,000 visitors.

Courtney Clark Pastrick and Lisa Slater.

Franklin Raines and Denise Grant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Simons, Director of the Academy Art Museum, comments, “We enjoyed having both longtime and new supporters together at this year’s special event. We are so grateful to the Farrells for hosting such an elegant party that raised critical funds making possible our service to the community!”

Kay Perkins, Jane Nigra and Patricia Saul.

For further information about supporting the Academy Art Museum, call 410-822-2787 or visit academyartmuseum.org.

The Museum is located at 106 South Street is one of Easton’s historic landmarks – deeply tied to the educational community in Easton since 1800. Its permanent collection includes important paintings by Gene Davis and Anne Truitt among others and is especially strong on works paper by modern American and European masters. The Museum holds drawings, photographs, and prints by artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Robert Rauschenberg, and Martin Puryear. Visitors experience national and regional exhibitions, concerts, lectures, educational programs, and visual and performing arts classes for adults and children.

Mike and Christy Gibson and Julie and Hugh O’Donnell.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Madino.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spy Review: The 34th Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival

The 34th annual Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival opened its two-week run Tuesday on as glorious an afternoon-into-evening as you could imagine or hope for—particularly considering this “Festival Opening Extravaganza” was followed by an outdoor wine-and-hors-d’oeuvres reception at Mason’s Redux, a short stroll down Harrison Street from the Christ Church concert venue.

The McDonaldChoRosen Trio

Before the music commenced—performed with panache by pianist Robert McDonald, violinist Catherine Cho and cellist Marcy Rosen—festival co-founder and co-artistic director Rosen was honored as an endowed cello chair providing scholarships in her name by Michael and Ella Bracy. (Rosen’s fellow founder/director, clarinetist J. Lawrie Bloom, has announced his retirement from his festival role. Cho will succeed him in 2020.)

To get the near-capacity audience in tune, Jonathan Palevsky, WBJC radio host of “Opera Today” and “Music in Maryland,” offered a primer on the main-course selections: Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 4 (he wrote 10 in all) and Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Opus 90 “Dumky.” Beethoven, described as “irascible” by Palevsky, was experiencing the early onset of eventual total deafness as he wrote his fourth violin sonata in 1796. Dvorak, “the sort of guy you’d like to have a beer with,” Palevsky said, dubbed his fourth and final trio “Dumky” after the plural for the Russian word “dumka,” a literary term denoting lament and melancholy.

More on musical lamentations later. First, the festival’s opening chamber piece by newly hard-of-hearing Beethoven: The sonata’s presto movement features McDonald’s tumbling piano syncopation, grounding wind-swept violin chords as if a storm is brewing. The middle-movement scherzo suggests an ecclesiastical call-and-response evolving into a less formal keyboard-and-strings conversation.  The concluding allegro picks up the tempo in sprints, interspersed with notes of quiet reflection, before a furious head-shaking pace by Cho settles into a placid finish.

By comparison, Dvorak’s “Dumky” was more challenging and, to my ear, more emotionally inspired than standard Beethoven, however brilliantly written and beautifully played. Its six movements begin with teardrop piano accompaniment to weeping violin and cello waves. A dramatic shift evokes a staccato piano riptide countered by long, almost moaning, bowstring glides. A pastoral respite, rolling with downhill momentum tempered with pauses as if to take in the view, anchors one of the most affecting middle movements, performed with deft timing and touch by the Rosen-Cho-McDonald trio. It’s followed by a march cadence on piano introducing a violin-and-cello leitmotif and a running-the-rapids buoyancy that swirls into a becalmed pool of—what?—contentment or resignation? The finale mixes many of the preceding themes without repeating them verbatim with a departing note of defiance that might also be heard as triumphant.

Certainly, the performance of this accomplished and attuned-to-one-another festival trio was triumphant.

Wednesday’s open rehearsal offered a free peek into upcoming festival concerts, focusing again on Dvorak, this time his first piano quartet to be played at Sunday’s gala. Next up is “Romantic Interlude” Thursday, with music by Louise Farrenc, a rare 19th-century female composer, along with pieces by some of the usual male suspects, Brahms and Debussy, featuring harpist June Han, who also plays in Saturday’s concert.

Steve Parks is a retired arts critic and editor now living in Easton.

Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival

“Romantic Interlude,” Farrenc, Debussy, Brahms; 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6, Academy Art Museum, Easton
“Spotlight: Flute and Harp,” Kuhlah, Ravel, David Bruce, von Weber; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8, Prager Auditorium, Easton
Festival Gala (concert, reception, silent auction), Mozart, Debussy, Dvorak; 4 p.m. Sunday, June 9 Temple B’Nai Israel, Easton
“Love Story,” Clara and Robert Schumann; 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, Academy Art Museum, Easton
“From Rags to Riches” (concert, reception), Schubert, Brahms, Mozart, Lilburn, John Psathas, William Bolcom, George Gershwin; 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, Christ Church, Cambridge
“Romancing and Dancing,” Clara Schumann, Ravel, Bartok, Dvorak; 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, Trinity Cathedral, Easton

“The Art of the String Quartet” (concert, reception), Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann; 4 p.m. Saturday, June 15, Oxford Community Center
Also, free open rehearsal, 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 11, Academy Art Museum, Easton

Tickets/info: 410-819-0380, chesapeakemusic.org

 

Spy Minute: Tapping with Avalon’s 42nd Street

Who doesn’t love the classic Broadway musical “42nd Street?” Every time its performed, the audience leaves the theater with a smile on their face as they hum their way out of the lobby after protagonist Peggy Sayer has her dream come true in the finale.

At that’s the goal this time as well director Kimberly Stevens’ new production that debuts at the Avalon this weekend with the Avalon Children’s Theatre.

This ultimate show-biz musical is a celebration of Broadway, Times Square, and the people who make the magic of musical theatre. Aspiring chorus girl Peggy Sawyer comes to the big city from Allentown PA, and soon lands her first big job in the ensemble of a glitzy new Broadway show. But just before opening night, the leading lady breaks her ankle. The question is – Will Peggy be able to step in at the last minute and become the star of the show?

Chock-full of Broadway standards, including “Go Into Your Dance,” “We’re In the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and “Forty-Second Street”, this is definitely a sure bet starting Friday.

The Spy spent a few minutes with Kimberly and a few members of the cast to get a feel of how much fun it can be.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Avalon Box Office at 410-822-7299

42nd Street – Young Performers’ Edition
Performed by the Avalon Children’s Theatre
Friday, May 31 at 7 PM
Saturday, June 1 at 2 PM
Sunday, June 2 at 2 PM
Avalon Theatre
Adults – $20; Students – $10

Not at the Academy: Student Art at the Shore Regional Health Pavilion

For Constance Del Nero, the Academy Art Museum director of Children’s Education & Community Programs, almost every vacant wall in Talbot County is an opportunity to display art. So when it was suggested that the new Shore Regional Health health Pavilion on Idlewild Avenue in Easton had plenty of those, she jumped at the chance to work with Talbot County Public Schools to fill the gap.

And over the last year, Connie and her fellow art teachers gathered a remarkable collection of some of its most promising artists not only to show off their talent but to provide an uplifting environment for patients and family members while visiting the building.

With Frame-it-Easy generously donating over a $1,000 worth of frames for the project, the health pavilion is now filled with some of Talbot County’s youngest artists work.

The Spy stopped by a few weeks ago to talk to Connie about this uplifting community art project to understand more about the Academy Art Museum’s goals to move beyond their South Street location to bring art to their community.

his video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum, please go here

Mid-Shore Arts: Ian Ghent Will Pop Up in St. Michaels over Memorial Day Weekend

It is no secret that the Spy loves pop up stores of every kind. These short term wonders of gorilla commerce consistently offer patrons products that typically are never available on most American main streets, and that is particularly true for visual art.

That is why we were excited to hear that New York City-based artist, Ian Ghent, decided to showcase his work in St. Michaels using that format at the end of May. Ghent, a successful advertising creative director by day, uses oil and watercolor to capture the essence of urban life, with a particular emphasis on people and animals that evoke both insight and humor through his portrait work.

The Spy was able to connect with Ian via Skype the other day to talk about his work and methods.

Ian Ghent
314A Talbot Street
St. Michaels
May 25, 26, and 27  from 9:30 – 6:00

Spy Poem: Lying by Stan Salett

Lying Is Fine
(with considerable apology and great appreciation to E.E.Cummings )

lying is fine)but Truth
  
?o
baby
i
  
wouldn’t like
  
Truth if Truth
were
good:for
  
when(instead of stopping to think)you
  
begin to feel of it, lying
‘s miraculous
why?be
  
cause lying is
  
perfectly natural;perfectly
putting
it mildly lively(but
  
Truth
  
is strictly
scientific
& artificial &
  
evil & legal)
  
we thank thee
god
almighty for lying
(forgive us,o life ! the sin of Truth

Stan Salett has been a policy adviser to the Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton administrations and is the author of The Edge of Politics: Stories from the Civil Rights Movement, the War on Poverty, and the Challenges of School Reform and Beyond the Scene He now lives in Kent County, Maryland and has been an advisor to the Spy since 2010. 

 

Art Review: Richard Diebenkorn at the Academy Art Museum by Steve Parks

By the time young Richard Diebenkorn attained stature as an Abstract Expressionist, he was itching to move on—again—to explore new horizons with his painter’s toolbox. “You see, I was trying to demonstrate something to myself,’ he said in an interview for John Gruen’s 1955 book, “The Artist Observed.” “Namely, that I wouldn’t get stuck in any dumb rut.”

While he never totally abandoned his abstract inclinations—producing art as he felt it rather than as seen—Diebenkorn eluded ruts for the rest of his long, prolific career.

“Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942-1955,” a traveling exhibition receiving its only East Coast exposure at Easton’s Academy of Art Museum through July 10, presents 100 paintings and drawings—many never shown before—that reveal the artist’s evolution from student to 33-year-old master of a modern American art form.

Because the show reflects Diebenkorn’s progression from classroom assignments—depicting the folds and shadows of a draped length of patterned fabric—to ever-searching expressions of mind’s-eye creativity—it’s best to view it chronologically. Start at the gallery to your left as you enter the museum and proceed clockwise from the introductory panel outlining Diebenkorn’s formative years, beginning with his 1922 birth in Portland, Ore., and San Francisco childhood. First, you’ll see his student assignment. (It deserves an A.) Other early works from his Stanford University days, before his other calling—World War II active duty—include representational watercolors of residential rooftops and fine-line ink drawings of fellow marines while stationed at Quantico, Va. (Art supplies weren’t allowed.)

Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled, 1952. Oil on canvas, 41 1/2 x 77 in.

His early Berkeley period preceding officer’s training (he flunked) exposed him to faculty disciples of Hans Hoffmann, although one instructor favored Cezanne. Both influences are evident in Diebenkorn’s untitled geometric watercolor-and-graphite pieces and the mortal combat in “Duel at Dawn.” The artist/marine renders loosely recognizable architecture in and around San Diego’s Camp Pendleton, where he was based before his dreaded mission to parachute behind enemy lines in Japan. But the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced Japan’s 1945 surrender. Diebenkorn’s team never deployed.

Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled, 1945. Watercolor and ink on paper, 9 x 11 7/8 in

Married during the war, he and his wife Phyllis were parents of an infant daughter as Diebenkorn resumed art studies at the California School of Fine Arts, where the faculty included Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. Diebenkorn’s abstracts began to reflect a more defined approach epitomized in three untitled paintings displayed as a triptych—two with geometric shapes on a flat plane and another of irregular shapes in a perspective alignment. His 1947 “Untitled (Magician’s Table)” is a deft nod to Surrealism while you might glimpse De Kooning with a darker palette in an untitled gouache from Diebenkorn’s 1948 solo exhibition at San Francisco’s California Palace of the Legion of Honor.

Abstracts with a sense of place, on larger canvases that Diebenkorn could by then afford, dominate the gallery across the lobby: structured but still nonobjective landscapes on beach (Sausalito period) and desert (Albuquerque) from the early ‘50s. His Urbana period at the University of Illinois was inspired by a major Matisse exhibition, leading to abstracts that playfully hint at identifiable figures. You might spot an owl (unintentional?) among these 1952-53 watercolors.

In a small gallery down the hall, there’s no mistaking the objects in Diebenkorn’s first mature figurative painting, “Untitled (Horse and Rider)” from 1954.

Untitled (Horse and Rider), 1954. Oil on canvas, 21 x 24 in

Where his “Beginnings” eventually led—spanning a lifetime up to 1993—are seen in catalogs beneath a huge black-and-white photo of Diebenkorn, the marine. The 1997-98 Whitney exhibition volume includes images from his “Ocean Park” series featured in the 1978 Venice Biennale—sea and sky, maybe both, as viewed from a window. As usual, Diebenkorn keeps you guessing and engaged, avoiding ruts and realism for a half-century.

A display upstairs features works by a few Diebenkorn contemporaries, drawn from the Academy of Art’s collection, among them Baltimore’s Amalie Rothschild (“Reclining Figure” drawing, 1955) and two Thomas Hart Benton lithographs (“Morning Train” and “Night Firing,” 1943).

“Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942-1955”
Daily through July 10, Academy of Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton

Lecture: “My Father, Richard Diebenkorn,” by Gretchen Diebenkorn Grant, 11 a.m. June 1
academyartmuseum.org, 410-822-2787

Steve Parks is a retired journalist, arts critic and editor now living in Easton.

  

 

Spy Review: Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s Ode to Humankind

The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Delmarva’s professionally accomplished philharmonic, capped its 22nd season with a challenging masterworks program marked by individual distinction and collaborative virtuosity.

It’s hard to imagine a more inspired finale than the textured and rousing performance of Beethoven’s miraculous 9th Symphony, his own symphonic finale, composed in two years beginning in 1822 when he had gone completely deaf. Deploying his genius and mental dexterity to write with a complex aural beauty he could test only with the inner ear of his mind, Beethoven created a masterpiece that is also the first major symphony featuring the human voice—many of them, actually—as a musical instrument.

But first, the audience was treated to a rare, perhaps unprecedented, encore before the scheduled concert. A pre-core, if you will, was graciously gifted by the evening’s piano soloist Michael McHale, after symphony board chair Jeffrey Parker announced that the concert would start a half-hour late due to a Bay Bridge accident that delayed a quarter of the MSO ensemble. McHale played several short pieces, including a Chopin nocturne and Irish traditionals of his own arrangement.

Once the latecomers arrived to applause, music director Julien Benichou abbreviated his usually loquacious opening remarks to lead the orchestra in Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” an emotionally patriotic salute to his native land that has launched an ecumenical array of hymns. Fittingly accompanied by a large choir— two, in fact: the Carter Legacy Singers named for Nathaniel Carter, the late Morgan State University choral director, and the Southern Delaware Chorale—their reverent vocal delivery was muffled at times by the ominous warlike brass and the prayerful swelling of woodwinds and strings.

McHale, an internationally acclaimed piano soloist from Northern Ireland, distinguished himself far beyond his “pre-core” chops by mastering the notoriously difficult keyboard calisthenics of Ravel’s jazzy Piano Concerto in G major. A crack of the whip signals the opening drum-and-piano staccato that wanders from the windchime-y delicacy of a blues dream sequence to a sprinting riff in which McHale all but falls off his bench reaching for the end-of-the-keyboard horizon, punctuated by woodwind bird calls borne by a fluttering string breeze led by concertmaster Jose Cueto.

Following intermission, the audience settled in for the 70-minute 9th. The fourth movement alone is as long as many symphonies. But time flies from the profoundly Beethoven opening notes—robustly delivered as if to awaken Beethoven’s inner ear—to the cello-and-bass overture that rallies with the urgency of a racing heartbeat/drumbeat. The second movement’s uptempo march slows down enough to catch its breath before a pell-mell rush to the finish, standing in stark contrast to the third movement’s soothing pastoral respite.

A pause before the defining 4th movement allowed the solo vocalists to take their places in front of the maestro’s podium: authoritative bass baritone Kevin Short, tempestuous tenor Israel Lozano, with piercing duel phrasing by soprano Allysa Packard and alto Jordan Swett. Sung in German, the familiar “Ode to Joy” refrain, especially when joined in by the let-it-rip voices of the double chorale, delivered a spiritual uplift—much needed these days. “Ode” left much of the audience humming with a smile while exiting after issuing their verdict with an extended standing ovation. Yes, bravo.

See you in September, MSO.

Steve Parks is a retired journalist and former feature editor for Newsday. He now lives in Easton. 

“Ode to Humankind, To Country and to Joy!”
Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra concert, Friday, April 26, Chesapeake College, Wye Mills
“Finlandia,” Jean Sibelius, with Carter Legacy Singers and Southern Delaware Chorale
Piano Concerto in G major, Maurice Ravel, with piano soloist Michael McHale
Symphony No. 9, Ludwig Van Beethoven, with soprano Allysa Packard, alto Jordan Swett, tenor Israel Lozano, bass baritone Kevin Short, Carter Legacy Singers, Southern Delaware Chorale
Final performance, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 28, Ocean City Performing Arts Center

 

At the Academy: Brad Ross and the Art of Teaching Art

Since 2016, Brad Ross has been offering painting and drawing classes at the Academy Art Museum, in Easton, MD. Learning the classical approach to drawing and painting through his studies greatly influenced what he paints today. While at Maryland Institute, where he completed a BFA in 1991, he studied portrait drawing with Abby Sangiamo and figure drawing with Peter Collier. Between 1994 and 1995 he took evening and summer classes at the Schuler School of Fine Art in Baltimore. There he experienced a classical approach to drawing and painting and a taste of the way all artists learned their craft prior to the twentieth century.  The Schuler School is also where he had some of his first experiences painting outdoors with noted watercolorist Fritz Briggs.

Ross states, “Drawing from plaster casts was the most important classical training I had and the concepts learned from them influence everything I do. . .  Most of my fine art training at Maryland Institute College of Art and Montgomery College was modern in philosophy, so my later exposure to the classical approach at the Schuler School broadened, refined and grounded the modern approach from those schools.”

Over the years, Ross has gained priceless drawing and painting knowledge by taking workshops with great artists like Carolyn Anderson, Tim Bell, George Strickland, Abigail McBride and Teresa Oaxaca. From 1995 to the early two-thousands, his professional work focused on still life painting in the classical tradition, maintaining a relationship with La Petite Gallery in Annapolis, MD and Renjeau Gallery in Natick, MA.

He adds, “Throughout this time, plein air painting, portrait and figure drawing remained avenues for skill-building and personal enjoyment.”

In 2012 he registered for his first quick draw competition at Plein Air Easton and has participated in several local plein air events since then, winning prizes in Chestertown’s quick draws three times, and being awarded Best in Show and Artist Choice Awards at Paint Berlin, MD, in 2018.  This year, he was juried into the 15th Plein Air Easton competition and will be competing in that premier event, as well as several others in 2019.

Ross comments about his plein air painting, “For most of my life I’ve been a very hesitant painter, taking a long time to finish work.  Plein air painting is a great antidote for that. Light changes frustratingly fast and forces you to identify important elements quickly and make decisions, then keep that concept in mind as conditions change.”

He adds, “Plein air was important in dispelling the misconception that an artist is recording or copying a scene.  In order to get faster you have to think on an abstract, conceptual level. This has strengthened my painting in general.”   

This spring, Ross is teaching a few classes at the Academy Art Museum, including “Drawing the Human Figure” on Wednesdays, May 1–29, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a Two-Day Workshop: “Oil Painting: Color Crash Course” on June 22 and 23 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.

Ross says about his portraiture classes, “Getting a likeness is pretty essential to portraiture and because of that it’s more demanding than other genres.  I love the challenge of conveying a personality in a drawing or painting and I love helping people tackle that challenge.”

For further information about classes taught by Bradford Ross at the Academy Art Museum, call 410-822-2787 or visit academyartmuseum.org.

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