“Spring in the Harbor,” oil, Philip Frey

Fresh from the studio: Trio of artists featured at Courthouse Gallery

ELLSWORTH — Sullivan and Stockton Springs painters Philip Frey and Judy Belasco and Brunswick sculptor Matt Barter are the featured artists on view at Courthouse Gallery Fine Art. The gallery is open to the public. Admission is free.

Frey, whose show is titled “Chasing the Light,” forever chases and captures the ever-changing light while setting up and painting land and seascapes around Hancock County. He always has been a bold colorist. As his painting style has matured, his study of light and its effect on pattern and color have given way to more captivating compositions, especially in his working waterfronts such as “Spring in the Harbor” and “Co-op Building Blocks” and his landscapes such as “The Long Shadows of Evening.” His use of geometric shapes, illuminated by sunlight, form the basis of his complex deconstruction of recognizable scenes. He masterfully balances the duality of realism and abstraction.

In her show “The Back of Beyond,” Belasco transports world-weary citizens into peaceful communion with the heart of Maine’s wilderness. Her process combines adventure, extensive photography, hours of reflection and skillful execution — a method that culminates in the formation of a sequence of transformative meditations. Each painting emanates a powerful stillness, or burst of vitality, contained within an eternal instant of sensory fullness.

For five years, Belasco has camped in the wilds of Baxter State Park, where she has produced some of her best work to date. “Sunset, Baxter Marsh” illuminates a magic moment in the wild, as the sun closes out its daily light show, casting a blanket of color across a hidden sanctuary. The viewer glides into a heightened reality merging with prismatic light reflected in the geometry of the physical world. In “Beaver Stream, Baxter,” if one gazes unfocused to the dark trees, the cloud mass begins to move through the bright sky and appears a gentle ripple in the stream. Vast clouds close in upon deep woods that hold many secret lives of tree networks and forest dwellers.

Barter is a storyteller who depicts the lives of Downeast men and women who work in the Downeast region. Downeasters are a hearty lot of thrifty folks known for their ingenuity and conservatism. “These are among the toughest, most frugal people I have ever met,” says Barter, “and the quietest.” He attributes their modesty to Puritan roots and the old English idiom “mind your p’s and q’s.”

In his installation, the sculptor pays tribute to Maine’s bygone sardine cannery industry. He has created an imaginary town and company store based on the former Stinson Cannery in Prospect Harbor. Stinson’s was one of many sardine canneries that thrived in Maine for over a century, spanning much of the coastline. In their heyday, these canneries employed thousands of workers, many of whom were women. Barter calls his place “Cantown.”

Courthouse Gallery will host an artist talk for Matt Barter at the gallery on Wednesday, June 29, at 6 p.m. To participate in the talk via Zoom, register at courthousegallery.com. The gallery is located at 6 Court St. in Ellsworth. For more info, call 667-6611, or visit www.courthousegallery.com.

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