PRESS AND REVIEWS

 

Martha's Vineyard Arts & Ideas, July-August 2012

Martha’s Vineyard Times, May 18 2011

Martha's Vineyard Times, July 22, 2010

Martha's Vineyard Times, June 25, 2009

The Martha's Vineyard Times, March 5 2009

Vineyard Visitor, October 25, 2007

Martha's Vineyard Gazette, November 2007

The Martha's Vineyard Times, July 2007

The Martha's Vineyard Times, July 2001

San Francisco Chronicle, 1990

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San Francisco Chronicle, 1990

PAINTER WENDY WELDON'S ABSTRACT WORKS COMBINE METAL LEAF WITH BROAD AREAS OF RICH COLORS
MESA GALLERY, SAN FRANCISCO

From abstraction to realism to graphic design and back again, artist Wendy Weldon has come full circle in a twenty year artistic exploration. Her latest works demonstrate her versatility and accomplishment in varied styles and mood expressions.

Weldon was raised in Indiana farm country where her mother was a well-known portrait artist. Weldon says watching her mother go to the studio to paint everyday had a profound effect on her and showed Weldon, at an early age, being a painter was a legitimate choice a woman could make.

After completing her degree at Bard College, where abstract painting was emphasized by her instructors from New York City, Weldon says she was embarrassed to be an art school graduate who couldn't draw well. She set out to teach herself that skill by focusing on realistic landscapes, seascapes, lifelike bird drawings and woodcuts. After moving to California in 1983, Weldon decided to abandon her art career and to concentrate on graphic design. She returned to school and started a new business. Although challenged by graphics, she felt she wasn't using her full talent. "I felt dry and unimaginative. I knew I wasn't doing what I wanted to do...what I felt I had to do."

It was then that friends who were opening a restaurant asked Weldon to select artwork for their walls. Rather that buy the art she decided to create it. That was nearly three years ago and Weldon has been immersed in her abstract vision ever since. Inspired in part by the quality of light on the west coast, Weldon combines a color field painting style with expressionist brush strokes and personal markings. Her paintings range from colorful 'landscapes' to more serene atmospheric statements. Recently, Weldon has incorporated metal leaf - copper, aluminum, and gold - into her works.

Weldon says the process of creating an abstract painting has no pattern. "The unknown is always present while you're working. There is a broad range of emotions; from feelings of frustration and despair to moments of relief and calm. The painting lets you know when the process is over."

Weldon's latest paintings reflect her fascination with the walls and doors of the Alentejo, a region in the south of Portugal. Each painting has a unique palette which seems to relate to weather conditions and light changes. While in Portugal, Weldon observed the architectural details of this Alentejo region; "Doors are brightly painted in strong contast to the white-washed walls. Time has weathered these painted stucco exteriors, creating beautiful color field patterns."

Her most recent works may be viewed at a one-person show at Mesa Gallery, 2178 Bush Street in San Francisco opening on Thursday June 7th and continuing through July 15th 1990.

Some of her other works may be viewed at an exhibition at the Artful Eye , 1333 A Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, California from April 13th to July 15th. from April 13th to August 31st, 1991.

In November of 1990, Weldon spent time in her Mother's old painting studio in Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard Island. The vivid colors of the sunrise's and sunset's are apparent in her latest abstract pieces. The metal leaf seems to capture the reflections of these colors as they sit on the surface of Squibnocket pond. Some these most recent paintings may be viewed at The Gay Head Gallery during the months of July, August and September 1991 on the Island of Martha's Vineyard.

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The Martha's Vineyard Times, July 2001
Transforming Vineyard Icons with Color and Light

Wendy Weldon Exhibits “New Work” at Shaw Cramer Gallery, August 3 – 16.

It’s a warm, sunny August afternoon. You drive through Chilmark, admiring the pleasing simplicity of the faded green barn with the red door on Middle Road. Aged stone walls meander along the rolling terrain.

But if you are Wendy Weldon, Chilmark resident and artist, simply admiring the scenery is not enough. You are compelled to slow down or perhaps even pull over. The Keith Farm Barn calls out to you like the Sirens to Odysseus.

“I look at that barn every time I drive by and I still can’t resist it, “ Ms. Weldon says, sounding somewhat embarrassed by her unlikely obsession. “I guess it’s an anchor to my childhood.” She has painted the barn at every time of day, in every season, in her rich palette of earthy colors. She explains that when she was a seven-year-old spending summers on the Vineyard, she and her family used to buy fresh milk from the farmer who owned the property.

The stone walls that demarcate the landscape appear and reappear in her current work as well. Ms. Weldon says that she feels the power and texture of the individual stones that comprise the walls. She sees how the shapes conform to create the whole. How a warm orange glow might bathe the image and alter its identity.

Ms. Weldon is a painter whose work is inspired by both a “calling” to create and by the natural beauty of her surroundings. Barns – the Keith Farm Barn in particular – and stones – ordinary, everyday stones – are recurring themes in her “New Work,” a one-woman show at the Shaw Cramer Gallery, 76 Main Street in Vineyard Haven from August 3 – 16. The show opens with an artist reception on Friday, August 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Ms. Weldon’s luminous acrylic and metal leaf paintings, along with a selection of monotypes and encaustics, form a new body of abstract work linked by common images, infused with warm, rich earth tones.

A painter since college, Ms. Weldon has exhibited her work in galleries across the U.S., most often in San Francisco, Sun Valley, Indianapolis and Martha’s Vineyard. Trained in fine art at Bard College in New York, she lived full-time on the Vineyard in the ‘70s, then in Vermont, California and now back on the Island. Her painting has evolved over time and place. She began as an abstract non-objective artist, concentrating mostly on color-field work. In Vermont she incorporated nature and setting in a more realistic style. Her move to California evoked yet another shift, this time back toward abstract work with a renewed emphasis on color and light. Today she describes the focus of her painting as “personal imagery in an abstract setting.” Her current work consists largely of the series of stones and the barn – recognizable objects transformed by her moods, emotions, composition and color.

“I put an image on a pedestal,” Ms. Weldon says. “I manipulate it. It begins to take on an identity of its own, separate from its physical characteristics.” Stones, she explains, are beautiful and powerful to her. “I examine them and squeeze the power out of them. I give them identity. They take on a different nature.”

Looking at her body of work, it is obvious that rusts, olive greens, browns and brick reds form her favorite palette. That has changed too, over time, reflecting her travels to such destinations as Portugal and Bali, places that inspired earlier series of works. Shrines and doorways, light bulbs and beds, self-portraits, blues, purples and ochres – these are the objects and colors that have marked her journey from an emerging to a now mature artist.

“Thank God I’ve gotten older,” Ms. Weldon says, smiling wryly. “Having painted continuously for 30 years is a gift beyond a gift. I have explored the same medium since my 20s – my experience is so rich – I have hundreds of paintings behind me.”

Her paintings in acrylic begin with canvas stretched across thin wood, glued to a frame. This gives her a strong foundation for the many layers of paint she employs. She paints and sands, paints and sands, allowing the paint to build up. She then adds gels to build the surface and a varnish for finish. She often utilizes metal leaf to add richness and sheen to her work. This winter she experimented with a new medium, encaustic, or paint encased in wax. She also created a series of monotypes, a print process that enabled her to create a series of images in a remarkably short amount of time. While a canvas can take three months or more to complete, Ms. Weldon explains that you can create several monotypes in a four-hour session.

“Only one or two may be worth hanging,” she says, “but the images are fresh and you can’t overwork them.

Raised in Indianapolis, Ms. Weldon’s mother was a portrait painter. “I grew up smelling oil paint and spending hours in my mom’s studio. It was magic to me.” Today she spends hours creating magic in her own studio, accompanied by her beloved dogs Molly and Zoë. She breaks up the hours of isolation with walks on the beach and regular meetings with a group of women artists who nurture and critique one another.

Even after over 30 years of successful group shows and one-woman exhibits, the prospect of an opening fills her with excitement and anxiety. “The feedback you get through a show is exhilarating but displaying your work is a huge act of courage,” she says. “You’re exposing what you’ve been doing by yourself for all those months.” With 20 new works to exhibit, she is hardly complacent. “You can’t rest on your laurels. There’s always another painting to paint.”

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The Martha's Vineyard Times, July 2007

Landscapes touched with a magic wand By Pat Waring - July 19, 2007 The Shaw Cramer Gallery in Vineyard Haven, a small, slightly tucked-away jewel box of an art space, is currently aglow with paintings by Wendy Weldon and Dawn Greeley. Though using different mediums, individual techniques, and disparate styles, the two artists both create images with a magical feeling, and use color with a spontaneity that suggests liberation from the confines of everyday reality."

The brilliance and shimmer in Wendy Weldon's acrylic paintings result from her selective use of gold leaf and her technique of building then rubbing away layers of paint. The captivating effect is at once ancient and contemporary. Her colors are richly hued and intense, her treatment of familiar up-Island landscapes so imaginative as to render them at once recognizable and fantastic. Along with seeing these as landscapes it is fun and satisfying to view them as purely abstract designs, arrangements of luscious color - a rectangle of glowing gold, the rocks becoming spheres, crimson, purple, green, then strong swaths of deep blue, ochre, yellow. Ms. Weldon returns again and again to the same subject, a spare up-Island landscape with simple barns and stonewalls the only sign of human intrusion. But if the subject is the same it changes dramatically in every view, the colors and perspective rendering a familiar scene brand-new.

"I love the stone walls, the curves of the land, the blues of the pond, the Hornblower barn on the South Shore, the tree line against the horizon, and the changing shades of the shrubs and undergrowth," writes Ms. Weldon in her artist's statement. "The paintings reflect my commitment to be a steward of this beautiful area."

As seen here in her painting, "Squibnocket Pond," Wendy Weldon's magnificent up-Island landscapes are burnished and glowing. Indeed the canvases are the fruits of close and loving observation, the artist caring about and getting to know her subject so essentially, so intimately that she can play with color, light, shading, and emphasis to bring the scene again and again to vibrant life.

The gold-roofed structure in "Hornblower Barn," the biggest canvas, rivets the eye while the viewer is mesmerized by the distant landscape with its rainbow of lush, multi-layered color, swaths of deep blue, green, bright lemony yellow. Gold leaf shooting through the rubbed layers of mossy green and warm brown accents the barn's sidewalls. Ms. Weldon says she began to use gold leaf after being enchanted by the paintings and frescoes of Fra Angelico during a recent trip to Tuscany.

In "Lightened Stone Wall," the foreground rocks are beautiful, brilliantly colored like beads - soft green, robin's egg blue, coral, a tropical sandy hue - and burnished like gems. Beyond, again we see the landscape in brilliant sweeps of color, a gold sky shimmering above.

Like big, friendly giants, the massive rocks in the fanciful "Dream in Squibnocket" heap up to embrace and dwarf the barn. The soft-looking boulders are molded with a delicious palette - pink, purple, shades of blue, turquoise, while the barn stands muted and modest, clothed in quieter blues and greens. Again in "Glimpse of Squibnocket Pond" it is the rocks that delight the eye, glowing with rose and pink and browns.

The smaller "Hornblower Barn at Dusk" has a different, peaceful feeling as the gold-tinged barn and adjoining shed are seen close-up, the surrounding landscape muted with approaching night. "Off Season" is a departure in mood and the most realistic of all as the artist sees the beach through a wintry lens, here describing the stonewall in gray, light brown, accents of white light. One can feel the chill, hear the stillness.

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Martha's Vineyard Gazette, November 2007

Just when our eye needs something fresh Nancy Shaw Cramer delivers with a stunning new show of drawings.

From November 23 through December 31 the Shaw Cramer Gallery will be presenting “ Drawing Invitational: A Sense of Line”.

This an unusual opportunity to see a wide range of drawings, a medium rarely shown in galleries. It is also an opportunity to see artists who do not usually show together like Allen Whiting and Leslie Baker hang side by side.

Nancy Shaw Cramer’s idea is simple and powerful. She invited over twenty island and off island artists to submit one to three drawings of their choice. “ I wanted to do something fresh and different”, she said. “ Drawings are not shown often. It is a medium close to artists hearts, but seldom exhibited.”

The only constraint Nancy gave was size. Drawings could not exceed 12 inches by twelve inches. Within that framework, the choice was limitless. “I wanted to frame the drawings exactly the same way and the same size for cohesive presentation,” Nancy said. “All the drawings are on acid free paper and framed in silver 20 inches by 20 inches frames. Martha’s Vineyard Framers did the framing work.”

Wendy Weldon, a painter, was initially challenged by the size constraint. “ I have to admit, I was quite rebellious. I don’t like assignments, but it was great. It took me out of my comfort zone.”

Wendy talked about a time when she felt she wasn’t tapping into anything new and she used drawing as a way to change. The invitation to be part of this show brought her back to this energy. “This is a show to learn something. I wasn’t doing what I always do. I sketch quite a bit, but this was a formal drawing. Not just personal. I decided to draw what I paint and see what happens.”

She also changed her studio. She cleared off a table in her studio, put it by the window, pulled up a chair and focused in. The act of drawing, Weldon describes is “ Quiet, the scale is smaller. It’s on a table. I stay in one spot and it’s more focused, more interior.” Weldon made some sensational drawings of stonewalls and embellished them with shiny copper or gold leaf. Will she do more drawing? “Yes.”

One of the things that excites Weldon about the Shaw Cramer Gallery drawing invitational is the opportunity for artists who don’t show together to be in the same show. Ruth Kirchmeier, known for her wood cuts, is one of these artists. I spoke to Ruth about the show and she is very excited about it. “ A drawing show is quite unusual”, she said. “It’s an original idea.”

Drawing is a medium close to Ruth’s heart. Before her Vineyard life when she lived in Brooklyn, she and a friend regularly drew together in the Cloisters. “ We were only allowed to use pencil because of possible damage to the art there. I took twenty- five soft sharpened pencils. It took me three days to complete a drawing. I pushed pencil as far as pencil could go.”

For the Shaw Cramer Gallery invitational, Ruth selected figure drawings. These are sophisticated portraits of models, which, as she said, “ Honor the face and reveal the character of the person.” Ruth thought this work would be “a pleasant change and a good contrast to what other artists might be contributing. I submitted out in the ether.” . I asked Ruth how she would define drawing. She said, “ Drawing is a never never land between drawing and painting. Drawing is basically line. It can be line and color and you can shade somewhat.” If, like me, you think of a drawing as an image made with a pencil, pen or crayon. Think again. Eva Gallant, a wire and paper media artist, draws with wire. Rose Abrahamson, a painter, collages with line. Kathy Newman, a photographer, saturates her drawings with color.

The range of materials used and subject matter is exhilarating. There are architectural drawings, portraits, and landscapes. There is abstract work and representational drawing. Put this show on your calendar and don’t miss it.

The opening reception is on Friday November 23 from 5-7 pm. at the Shaw Cramer Gallery, 56 Main Street, Vineyard Haven. The Gallery is open daily from 11-5 and on Sundays from 12-4. For further information call 508 696 7323.

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VINEYARD VISITOR

Vineyard gallery owners choose: Love or money
By Karla Araujo - October 25, 2007

Whether framed or functional, the sale of art on the Island is big business. And according to reports, it’s the same all around the country to the point that many private banks include art advisory services.

It’s enough to make one wonder if original art should be regarded as an investment and be accorded the same serious consideration as other financial assets. Maybe that watercolor of the overturned pram should be carefully evaluated after all.

Carol Craven, the energetic owner of Carol Craven Gallery off Holmes Hole Road in Vineyard Haven, takes a different approach. She advises, "Enrich your life, not your portfolio.” Ms. Craven has been an art dealer and consultant since the 1970s, including many years as director of four different galleries in New York. "Buy what you love,” she stresses. "Then be thrilled if it appreciates. If it turns out to be valuable for your grandchildren — fabulous!” she says.

Al Harris, manager of Edgartown Art Gallery’s print gallery, cautions: "There may be 100,000 artists in the database but very, very few will achieve investment status.”

Most Vineyard gallery owners agree that art should be bought to enhance your life, not your bottom line. Purchase for love not investment, they declare. Chris Morse, who with his wife, Sheila, owns the Granary Gallery, Field Gallery, and Gardner-Colby Gallery, advises, "The key to acquiring art is to always buy what you like, and never assume or hope that it will be worth more. It’s risky to plan on buying art at retail and hope to sell it wholesale to make a profit.”

Offering some constructive tips for the prospective buyer, Elizabeth Eisenhauer, of Eisenhauer Galleries in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, suggests that clients pose the following questions before making a fine art purchase: "Does it move you? Do you love it? Do you have a place for it? Can you afford it?”

It’s not only gallery owners who steer potential buyers away from purchasing art purely for investment. Dan Merians of Wealth Management for Smith Barney, offers his financial perspective: "Art is a collectible and, as such, is difficult to value. It’s a liquid investment. When you sell a security, you see the money three days later. You don’t have that control with art. Love it first, hope it appreciates in value second. Only time tells what the value of art will be – and it’s changeable. Often great artists are recognized only after they’re gone. If you do decide to invest in art, invest in knowledge first – talk to experts, go online and do research.”

Nancy Shaw Cramer, of Vineyard Haven’s Shaw Cramer Gallery, uses very specific criteria for choosing artists to represent in her contemporary gallery. Like the other gallery owners interviewed, she chooses work first and foremost because it appeals to her. After it passes the personal esthetic test, she goes through her own checklist: Is the artist nationally or regionally recognized? Has he received notable awards or grants? Is the work shown in museums, or is it part of a museum collection? Has the artist been written up in industry publications? Does the artist use quality materials?

Some work does appreciate. The Island has its share of artists whose work is in consistent demand, and continues to significantly appreciate. Among others, they include Ray Ellis, Allen Whiting, Kib Bramhall, Deborah Colter, the late Stan Murphy, and Wendy Weldon. Their paintings continue to increase both in demand and value.

By following the advice offered by gallery owners and financial experts, art buyers can better understand why some work increases in value and some does not. The decision to purchase can then be a balance of heart and mind.

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The Martha's Vineyard Times March 5 2009

Wendy Weldon: Color, shape, and inspiration
By Gwyn McAllister Published: March 5, 2009

According to artist Wendy Weldon, her show this weekend at the Chilmark Library provides an opportunity that she's never had before. Along with the public, she will have a chance to view in one space paintings of hers that span more than a decade.

"The new pieces haven't been shown yet, and the older pieces are ones that were in my own collection, and I've never shown them on the Vineyard," she says. "So it just is a great opportunity for me to look at all the different kinds of work that I've done in the past and how it relates to what I do now."

Since 1997, Ms. Weldon has been working out of a spacious studio atop a hill near her Chilmark home. A picture window reveals a stunning view of Squibnocket Pond, with the barrier beach and ocean in the distance. The adjacent wall features a huge cabinet filled with an array of icons from all over the world. Ms. Weldon's "shrine," as she calls it, is a fascinating collection of angels, Buddhas, a number of crosses - both crude and ornate, saints and Mexican tin paintings, along with interesting flea market finds.

Ms. Weldon, who's been painting for over three decades, tends to demarcate the various periods in her artistic development by correlating them with where she was at the time she found her inspiration. Her shrine pictures were made while living in California, where she began her icon collection. Her bed and lamp series is based on objects in a hotel room where she stayed while on a trip to Mexico. Paintings of both these periods are included in her upcoming show.

"I've been collecting things for years - things that capture my imagination," Ms. Weldon explains. Along with the treasures she brought back from California and Mexico, there are a few Chilmark Flea Market finds, and one of her favorites is a rock she retrieved from a stream in Vermont, where she also lived for a time. The flat surface of the stone has an image resembling a bear that sometimes reappears in the artist's work.

Ms. Weldon's solo show will feature some of her signature barn and rock paintings - bold shapes in brilliant layers of color, often made dramatic with gold leaf embellishment. The canvases vibrate with color upon color, and the effect becomes almost mystical.

She started painting barns while living in Vermont and has continued working with the image since moving to Martha's Vineyard. The familiar Monopoly house-style barn has been reinvented time and again by the artist who says, "The image just stuck with me because it has an emotional tie." She explains she started out painting pure abstracts, with round and square shapes in bright colors, and finally, "The barn became a vehicle for the colors and the shape became recognizable." Her circles evolved into the bold stonewalls that are so clearly identified with the Vineyard landscape.

Also included in the show are pieces from her Personal Memoirs series. Ms. Weldon's Shrine period, which began in the mid-90s, was a move towards more personal work. Not only did she portray the objects from her collection, she also started making statements about people in her life, including two memorials to her father, and a collage inspired by her next-door neighbors in San Francisco.

Certain elements are constant in the artist's work - the use of various acrylic painting techniques and metallic leafing, and geometric shapes, especially squares, rectangles, and circles. The beds and lamps are a translation of the essence of the barns and stones in an intimate setting. And always, there is Ms. Weldon's distinctive, luminous palette, rich colors in striking and unusual combinations.

"I'm a colorist. I like bright deep colors and the gold competes with them," she says. "It has that potency and it can give off so much energy."

Ms. Weldon proudly reveals her paint boxes - two fishing tackle boxes with acrylic paints arranged chromatically in the multiple compartments. "I just love opening this up and seeing the colors," she says. "I feel like a chef with all the ingredients cut up and ready to be prepared."

As viewers will discover, the artist's love of color has proven to be a constant throughout all her work, and Ms. Weldon is constantly finding new ways to represent that which inspires her.

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Martha's Vineyard Times, June 25, 2009

Wendy Weldon is moving from her house into her studio for the summer. Like her paintings that will appear in her up-coming show, "Barn Elements," at Shaw Cramer Gallery, she is in transition.

Despite the chaos that moving even a few hundred yards can cause, Ms. Weldon's energy and enthusiasm for change is boundless. "I am having the best time in my studio in years," she says.

Turning to a stack of neatly matted monotypes on a cluttered worktable, Ms. Weldon proudly begins holding them up. They are among her new works for the show which will open the Vineyard Haven gallery's summer season.

Her iconic barn theme is present, but the roof, sky and earth merge to create more abstract images. The colors in the monotypes are relatively soft compared to the bold and robust colors of the canvas paintings that are stacked against the wall.

"They are not simply monotype prints," Ms. Weldon says, explaining that the surface is manipulated with paint and with her trademark use of gold leaf. They are mixed media works with the quality of texture that she adds to her paintings through sanding and layering.

Ms. Weldon points to a large barn painting propped up against the wall. She then pulls out a print and brings it to the painting it inspired. "What's so amazing is that some of these monotypes translate into paintings," she says. "Something happens in the transition."

An alchemist through whom the pastel sky of the print turns into a fiery red sunset on canvas and whose touch turns the calm blue sea into a lively cerulean, Ms. Weldon marvels at the magic in the transition. "See the little barn in the corner of the canvas?" she asks. "It just showed up - go figure."

Most artists accept the idea that their work takes on a life of its own, and Wendy Weldon is no exception. "There are voices in my paintings. What's great about being an artist is that it all goes through you. You get the messages of what to do. The whole idea is to be more abstract.

"I began as an abstract, non-objective painter in the late 60s, concentrating mostly on color field," Ms. Weldon says, recalling her years at Bard College. Even today, the depth of color on her large canvases suggests the artist who greatly influenced her. "At 16 years old, I went into the chapel of Rothko in the old Tate Museum in London and fell on my knees. It was a spiritual experience."

Abstraction, according to Ms. Weldon, allows for the unknown or mystery to always be present. While in California in the 80s and enjoying great gallery success with her abstract paintings, she discovered the use of mixed metal, and gold and copper leaf, which continues to glow on her barn roofs today.

"A reflective metallic surface creates more mystery," she explains. "It's a surface that gives so much dimension and changes."

To demonstrate, she reaches for the light switch and turns it off. The gold leaf rooftop on the barn in the nearby painting takes on another quality of light. "Real gold leaf is so luscious and luminous, you can swim in it," she says.

In her new work, Ms. Weldon shows the transformations that take place through the mediums, from paper sketches to monotype/mixed media to canvas paintings. "It's a whole new approach," she announces gleefully. Of the three, the sketches on paper are the most abstract. She says she feels freer working on paper, and that she is fascinated by the way the paper curls and wrinkles, the way it accepts and sometimes rejects layers of paint, gel, and varnish. For her, it is a medium both sensitive and alive.

For this show, Ms. Weldon decided to draw what she paints and to see what happens. "There are different elements which emerge when you go from paper sketches to monotypes to canvas," she says.

For the viewer, it is difficult to see which piece inspired which, but discovering the line, the angle or the burst of color in a sketch that shows up in the monotype and gets expanded on canvas is a little like a treasure hunt with rewards at each stop.

It is with a sense of seeming wonder that Ms. Weldon looks across the span of her work hanging and leaning against the studio wall. She is reminded of the beginning of her career. "They used to yell at me at Bard; 'Where's your original idea? You can't paint like this.'"

To which the formidable Ms. Weldon replied, "But this is who I am."

"Barn Elements" opens Friday, June 26, at Shaw Cramer Gallery, 56 Main St., Vineyard Haven. The summer season opening reception celebrates the gallery's 15 years in business. 508-696-7323.

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Martha's Vineyard Times, July 22, 2010

Barn Painters explain the mystique

By Brooks Robards  Published: July 22, 2010

Barns seem to hold a magic that invites transformation into art. Three who regularly show their barn paintings on the Vineyard are: Wendy Weldon, Peter Batchelder, and Suzanne Crocker.

Chilmark artist Wendy Weldon exhibits at the Carol Craven Gallery on State Road in West Tisbury. Growing up on a farm in Indiana, her childhood surroundings were the flat landscape, farm patterns of squares, and circles punctuated with barns.

Ms. Weldon calls the barn shape perfect in its proportions. "It's inspirational for me," she says. "What I saw growing up was magical. You can't put it in reality..."

Some viewers might mistake her paintings of barns for houses, even without windows, flower boxes, or walkways. Ms. Weldon, who began coming to the Vineyard in 1955, and moved to Chilmark in 1998, explains barns are storage buildings — warm places for animals, dry places for storage, and homes for tractors — the spaces that keep the farm going, and age with elegance and dignity.

"That barn shape is part of my core. The shape, the colors, the doors — they make me smile," she says. "They make me happy."

Wherever Ms. Weldon lived, barns served as an important part of her artistic repertoire. Barns and rocks became the predominant themes in her work. After college, she moved to Vermont, doing pen and ink drawings of birds — and lots of barns. Later she lived in California's wine country, and her work became purely abstract, but barns remained as a form that translated readily into abstraction.

"I'm not really a landscape painter," she says. "I just don't paint in any real time." Her barns are abstract conceptions that can be set in any kind of environment, floating somewhere in an imaginary heaven. She uses them to express herself through color, shape, texture, and planes. The shapes and proportions of her barns provide the inspiration for her use of layered, shimmering color, often employing gold leaf to help build texture.

Like Ms. Weldon, painter Peter Batchelder doesn't depict literal translations of barns, and also, sees them as opportunities to experiment with color.

"I like the idea of being more expressionistic," he explains. "I prefer superimposing different elements... I like to transform the drawing into something universal." He adds, "Simplifying is difficult. The challenge of the composition is to put as few things in as possible, to leave behind what got my attention. Then you're left with a peaceful feeling."

Mr. Batchelder, who grew up in New Hampshire where his father was headmaster at Walnut Hill School in Natick, regularly visited the Vineyard as a child. He moved to the Island in the early 1990s, initially monitoring birds for the Audubon Society, which gave him access to parts of the Island many people don't get to see. He met his wife, Kim Sullivan, when both worked at the Beach Plum Inn. The couple opened a small gallery, Anasarra, on Beach Road Extension in Vineyard Haven.

Now a resident of Amherst, N.H., he exhibits at the Dragonfly Gallery in Oak Bluffs, and admittedly loves painting barns, calling them the quintessential New England structure.

"I think barns are almost icons of New England, a part of New England's agricultural history," Mr. Batchelder says. "I just always loved them. They're such big, looming structures — you can't miss them."

Mr. Batchelder has made barn-hunting expeditions with his mentor, Provincetown barn painter Robert Cardinal, taking photographs from which he makes his preliminary charcoal drawings. His goal in painting barns is to bring out an element of the abstract, of something universal that evokes history and memories.

Suzanne Crocker, who comes from the rural town of Hamilton, exhibits her barn paintings at North Water Gallery in Edgartown, The Field Gallery in West Tisbury, and at Dragonfly Gallery in Oak Bluffs. Her interest in barns comes from the conceptual and the aesthetic.

Ms. Crocker feel barns have life and soul. Through the use of light, she tries to convey the spirit, the interconnectedness of things so the viewer can see how the barn relates to what's around it.

"I love the shape," Ms Crocker says. "Its solid, simple forms allow me to juxtapose colors in many ways. It's really about color."

She continues, "Musically, it's like a symphony with big booming sounds that I balance with little piccolo charcoal marks," she says.

Barns have captured her attention for the last 10 years. "I will get addicted to a place, paint it up to 10 times — moving things around, changing the colors, the perspective, light source, fenestration," she says. "I feel they've witnessed so much. People come and go, but barns remain our story keepers." 

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Martha’s Vineyard Times May 18 2011

Artist Wendy Weldon meets new challenges

For the rest of this month, those who haven't yet seen the show Wendy and her Friends at the West Tisbury Library have a chance to discover a different aspect of artist Wendy Weldon's work.

Ms. Weldon, who shows at the Shaw Cramer Gallery in Vineyard Haven, has gained prominence with her multi-layered, intensely colored, impressionist acrylic paintings of stone walls, rocks, and barns, in which she incorporates metallic leaf for dramatic, shimmering surfaces.

The current show at the library, however, features images of birds and Ms. Weldon's long-time, well-loved pets. "I've been trying to figure out where I want to go from here. I want to pull out emotion and feeling. I'm searching for creative pathos in my work and working with animals brings all that out."

She says, "I've painted animals all my life — usually just for myself. I painted portraits of dogs for a long time. We're all pet people on the Island. And although it's a different subject matter than my landscapes, it's not a different approach."

Her large, composite painting of Mollie — a lab-mix dog who was more than 15-years old when she began the painting — incorporates a photo of Ms. Weldon in 1995. She admits she spent a lot of time representing Mollie's eyes.

"I started the painting of Mollie when she was 15, in the last two or three months of her life, and finished it after she died," she says.

She tells the story of rescuing Mollie when she lived in Sausalito, California and a young boy was outside a grocery, Mollie's Foods, looking for someone who would take her.

Then there's her painting of the late Mr. Squeak, a stray cat from Mill Valley, California — "He adopted us there and would not leave" — who she embellished with a halo-like image.

"I have been painting images of birds [there are two exhibited in this show] for over 35 years," Ms. Weldon says. She refers to her paintings of birds on smaller canvasses as "a relaxing exercise to counterbalance my other work."

A professional artist for 35 years, Ms. Weldon works in her studio overlooking Squibnocket Pond near her Chilmark home. The studio, a busy system of very organized commotion, is filled with tables with tubes of acrylics, bottles of gesso, bars of encaustics, and brushes that stand in glass jars. Ms. Weldon works on several paintings at a time that hang in stages of completion on a long white wall. Atop a file cabinet she arranged a shrine made of her large collection of found objects and icons from all the places she's traveled around the world — angels, saints, Mexican tin paintings, Buddhas, crude and ornate crosses, and Retablos — Latin American devotional paintings.

"I've been collecting things for years, things that capture my imagination," Ms. Weldon explains, describing the influence of photographer Paul Strand (1890-1976), who she says captured emotion in his images.

"It's that emotion along with beauty that I want to capture," she says. "I'm picking emotionally charged subjects and this new interest challenges me. Religious icons have so much history embedded in them. My new work is drawn from my home in Indiana, my collection of icons, and my trip to Afghanistan.

Referring to herself as "more interpretative than representational," she says her latest explorations "make me feel I'm growing as an artist."

Art display, West Tisbury Library, State Road. Hours: Monday 10 am–9 pm; Tuesday through Thursday, 10 am–6 pm; Friday and Saturday, 10 am–5 pm. 508-693-3366.

By CK Wolfson

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Martha's Vineyard Times, July 22, 2010

 Barn Painters explain the mystique

Barns seem to hold a magic that invites transformation into art. Three who regularly show their barn paintings on the Vineyard are: Wendy Weldon, Peter Batchelder, and Suzanne Crocker.

Chilmark artist Wendy Weldon exhibits at the Carol Craven Gallery on State Road in West Tisbury. Growing up on a farm in Indiana, her childhood surroundings were the flat landscape, farm patterns of squares, and circles punctuated with barns.

Ms. Weldon calls the barn shape perfect in its proportions. "It's inspirational for me," she says. "What I saw growing up was magical. You can't put it in reality..."

Some viewers might mistake her paintings of barns for houses, even without windows, flower boxes, or walkways. Ms. Weldon, who began coming to the Vineyard in 1955, and moved to Chilmark in 1998, explains barns are storage buildings — warm places for animals, dry places for storage, and homes for tractors — the spaces that keep the farm going, and age with elegance and dignity.

"That barn shape is part of my core. The shape, the colors, the doors — they make me smile," she says. "They make me happy."

Wherever Ms. Weldon lived, barns served as an important part of her artistic repertoire. Barns and rocks became the predominant themes in her work. After college, she moved to Vermont, doing pen and ink drawings of birds — and lots of barns. Later she lived in California's wine country, and her work became purely abstract, but barns remained as a form that translated readily into abstraction.

"I'm not really a landscape painter," she says. "I just don't paint in any real time."  Her barns are abstract conceptions that can be set in any kind of environment, floating somewhere in an imaginary heaven. She uses them to express herself through color, shape, texture, and planes. The shapes and proportions of her barns provide the inspiration for her use of layered, shimmering color, often employing gold leaf to help build texture.

Like Ms. Weldon, painter Peter Batchelder doesn't depict literal translations of barns, and also, sees them as opportunities to experiment with color.

"I like the idea of being more expressionistic," he explains. "I prefer superimposing different elements... I like to transform the drawing into something universal." He adds, "Simplifying is difficult. The challenge of the composition is to put as few things in as possible, to leave behind what got my attention. Then you're left with a peaceful feeling."

Mr. Batchelder, who grew up in New Hampshire where his father was headmaster at Walnut Hill School in Natick, regularly visited the Vineyard as a child. He moved to the Island in the early 1990s, initially monitoring birds for the Audubon Society, which gave him access to parts of the Island many people don't get to see. He met his wife, Kim Sullivan, when both worked at the Beach Plum Inn. The couple opened a small gallery, Anasarra, on Beach Road Extension in Vineyard Haven.

Now a resident of Amherst, N.H., he exhibits at the Dragonfly Gallery in Oak Bluffs, and admittedly loves painting barns, calling them the quintessential New England structure.

"I think barns are almost icons of New England, a part of New England's agricultural history," Mr. Batchelder says. "I just always loved them. They're such big, looming structures — you can't miss them."

Mr. Batchelder has made barn-hunting expeditions with his mentor, Provincetown barn painter Robert Cardinal, taking photographs from which he makes his preliminary charcoal drawings. His goal in painting barns is to bring out an element of the abstract, of something universal that evokes history and memories.

Suzanne Crocker, who comes from the rural town of Hamilton, exhibits her barn paintings at North Water Gallery in Edgartown, The Field Gallery in West Tisbury, and at Dragonfly Gallery in Oak Bluffs. Her interest in barns comes from the conceptual and the aesthetic.

Ms. Crocker feel barns have life and soul. Through the use of light, she tries to convey the spirit, the interconnectedness of things so the viewer can see how the barn relates to what's around it.

"I love the shape," Ms Crocker says. "Its solid, simple forms allow me to juxtapose colors in many ways. It's really about color."

She continues, "Musically, it's like a symphony with big booming sounds that I balance with little piccolo charcoal marks," she says.

Barns have captured her attention for the last 10 years. "I will get addicted to a place, paint it up to 10 times — moving things around, changing the colors, the perspective, light source, fenestration," she says.  "I feel they've witnessed so much. People come and go, but barns remain our story keepers."

By Brooks Robards

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