Jenny Brillhart participates in exhibition When In Maine

June 2, 2022

Represented artist Jenny Brillhart will be participating in group exhibition When In Maine at Nina Johnson.

On View: June 4th – July 30th, 2022

When In Maine…

One swims in the pond, gazes at the stars, lays amongst the moss, feels the mist of the sea, the echo of the fog horn, eats lobster with friends, and so on and so forth…

I first visited Maine for the wedding of Jim Drain and Kate McNamara and recall vividly Kate’s father toasting the bride and groom and telling us all, “don’t tell anyone you’ve been here and please don’t come back,” or something to the effect, with the good natured chuckle of that dry Northeastern humor. Naturally, we not only returned, we brought friends and family, bought a house and as our dear friend John says, we now aspire to ‘live in Maine and work everywhere else.’

This exhibition came together as a gesture of thanks for the generosity we have felt in the work of artists touched by this special place, their images enriching our experience and creating a densely layered landscape that exists as much as a memory, as it does a place. When in Maine is intended as a love note;

…to Ann, whose images of Maine resonate so deeply, there isn’t a moon I look up to that doesn’t recall her standing on her green lawn, wood easel outstretched, sweeping gooey paint over gooey paint, hour after hour. In her most recent churches, I can see the painter, overalls, bucket in tow, standing on the ladder, slapping it on… heading off, before it’s commemorated in oil, and then commemorated again, and again, and one more time, perhaps larger, perhaps smaller, each canvas stacked in front of the other.

From Ann, there is a chain, which leads first to Ms. Dodd… her light, peeking through the birch trees, spotted on the wood floor of the cabin and dotted with golden rod, iris and the like… it connects to Mr. Katz, not only the faces of a place, but the landscape, with time, swept more broadly, a field, punctuated with tiny yellow dots, the way flowers look when your eyes are burning from a day spent in the summer sun. And into the tangled roots of Marvin Bileck, housing treasures of the deepest wood.

In the memory of a cherished place, what makes it in, what images are kind enough to stay with us and how do artists shape those memories? When I see a scattered sea, or a forest gone wild with light, am I actually seeing what is before me or am I recalling the romantic kiss of Nicole’s dramatic vistas? A tree trunk illuminated by otherworldly light, given only for a moment, yet extended by paint, Nicole’s gift to us, the trunks sweeping inward, as if embracing.

Last summer, memory was seeing a friend appear suddenly in the brushstrokes of a painting, so simple but so distinctly him, discovering Bob Hiemstra this way, through mutual admiration and care, is this Maine? We love it, therefore we must also love each other?

Katie visiting, baking bread with my boys and making drawings in the sand of an overcast beach, reminiscing about camp, braiding bread, braiding ceramic, muscle memory carried in her fingers, but also picture memory, like a slide show or a projection that casts from the object onto the wall, re-arranging our thoughts around that which is refined; it is not the perfection of a tiffany shade, rather that of a life imbued with joy and humor and bravery.

Katherine, whose figures wade ankle deep in the fog, the pier disappearing in the distance; suspended in time without age, adrift in a sea of color, tinted by an atmospheric haze. The dark haze of Emily’s work, isolation but also potential, dense and rich and endless.

In Jim’s work, unearthing a fantastic archive of Nature’s spirit, abstracted through pattern, the work renders a kind of utopia, mostly imagined, hopeful and psychedelic, the kind of positivity we can only attribute to a place coined ‘Vacationland.’

The interior light of Jenny Brillhart, a mattress, family decamped for the winter, sun and wind billowing the gently draped shade across the window, they’ll be back, they always come back.

– Nina Johnson


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