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Sullivan Goss is pleased to announce elemental: WATER, an exhibition that deals exclusively in one of the gallery’s accidental specialties: landscape paintings of water.

As a gallery based in a seaside town, it should not come as any surprise that the gallery maintains a sizable roster of artists interested in landscapes featuring water. Among those who might be said to specialize in the subject, the gallery counts Lockwood de Forest, NA (1850-1932), Leon Dabo, NA (1864-1960), Hank Pitcher, and Nicole Strasburg, though the gallery represents many other artists who have made their homes by great bodies of water. Betty Lane (1907-1996) worked on Cape Cod and up and down the east coast from the 1940s until the 1990s. Ben Messick (1891-1981), Dan Lutz (1906-1978), Richard Haines (1906-1984), Anders Aldrin (1889-1970), and Anya Fisher (1905-1992) all lived and worked in Los Angeles in the mid-twentieth century, even if their aquascapes were sometimes evocations of water in other places. All were tempted, more than once, to try their hand at an image with an enduring tradition in American art.

Some of the gallery’s artists known for other subjects have also taken on water: Joseph Goldyne for its fluidity and art-historical resonance, John Nava for the challenge of representing both waves and the marine layer that conceals the horizon, Edgard Rincon and Connie Connally for its complexity and innately abstract qualities, and Angela Perko for its motion and mysticism.


Combing through the inventory in search of themes that might unify a gallery program that covers two centuries of American art from all over the country, curator Jeremy Tessmer couldn’t help but notice the pattern. As malleable as the material itself, water opens itself up to myriad connotations. Water is life itself. It stands in for the subconscious, for fluidity of form and color, for motion and for stillness. It can be painted to invoke contemplation, tranquility, elegy, and even fugue. Water can also call up excitement and even ecstasy. It takes any form and leaves its mark on any surface or material. It reflects any color. And, for whatever reason, there are many who will pay princely sums to live in our small town by the edge of the water. They will pay even more for a view of it. Indeed, for many of us, the thought of living away from the ocean is nearly incomprehensible.


3:48 | Jeremy Tessmer

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