INNESS INVITATIONAL LANDSCAPE EXHIBITION
NOVEMBER 30, 2013 - JANUARY 26, 2014
DENNIS SHEEHAN & CHRISTINA BEECHER
ARTISTS RECEPTION: SATURDAY JANUARY 4, 2014 6-8PM
gallery hours: 12-5 Saturday & Sunday
Beginning November 30 the Zullo Gallery celebrates the landscape tradition exemplified by the work of George Inness, often called "The father of American landscape painting" who lived and painted in Medfield in the 19th century and whose images of this countryside remain icons of the New England landscape in art. This inaugural Inness Invitational exhibit will feature two of the top landscape painters working today: Dennis Sheehan and Christina Beecher.
Landscape artist George Inness first arrived in Medfield in 1859. Coming into town he peered out the stagecoach window at the broad meadows, trees and marshlands that he would immortalize in so many of his paintings. Since studying and painting in the art centers of Europe, the then 34-year old Inness had begun to develop his own unique style which broke all the traditional rules for landscape painting. Inness, his wife Lizzie and their five children rented the house which still stands today at 406 Main Street and the artist set up his studio in the barn behind the house. One of the paintings he did, during what Inness called the "Medfield Period" of his life from 1859-1864, was a landscape entitled "Summer, Medfield, Massachusetts." Inness was noted for independence of thought and a willingness to cast off whatever he felt was superficial. He sketched out of doors and then painted from sketches and from memory in his studio. His work is represented in the collections of many American art museums. Perhaps Inness' most famous work, "Peace and Plenty," painted while in Medfield, is a scene of the meadows and trees surrounding the Charles River. He moved to Eaglewood, New Jersey in 1864. "Medfield," he said," was the peace haven, which allowed me to develop my own individual style from the ideas and inspiration of my European studies."
Dennis Sheehan's work is often described as reminiscent of the great masters of the Barbizon school, in France in the 19th century, and the American Tonalist. Born in Boston in 1950, he has works in major public and private collections, including the White House. His work has been featured in many publications including the featured cover of American Artist. Dennis Sheehan received his training in the best traditions of the "Boston School," studying at the Vesper George School of Art and the Montserrat School of Visual Art. He also studied with two of R.H. Gammell's former students, Robert Cormier and Richard Whitney. Like his great nineteenth century predecessor George Inness, whose influence is consciously acknowledged, Sheehan employs the dark palette and thickly pigmented surfaces of the French Barbizon School. Sheehan, like Inness before him, eschews picturesque scenery in the interest of evoking atmospherics. Also like Inness, Sheehan's paintings are produced in the studio from his imagination. For all of the references to history—and there are multiple—there is no mistaking the artist's debt to the more recent past. Without the legacy of action painting, Sheehan's art would be less forceful and evocative than it is.
Sheehan's pastoral paintings evoke the moody beauty and deep peace of nature. His goal is "to have the painting emanate light, rather than just a surface that records the reflections of light - the power comes from the shadows." Mysterious and breathtaking, his paintings capture the beholder and transport them into serene landscapes that have reverence for nature's poetic and changing seasons. (Sheehan biography courtesy Susan Powell Fine Art)
Christina Beecher received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art studying Industrial Design and Graphics. She was first employed at Nottingham & Spirk Design in Cleveland, Ohio and focused on designing products for Fortune 500 companies. In 1988 she moved to the east coast to work for Hasbro Toys and spent the next 14 years developing products for Hasbro, Milton Bradley, and Playskool. Her ambitions, however, had always been to focus on the fine art side of her training and in 2001 she made the decision to leave the corporate world and focus on developing her fine art craft. Christina began studying painting mediums, settling into oils after training under Joseph McGurl and William Davis. She also began to study the Tonalists, in particular George Inness and Ralph Blakelock. After coming across an article in American Artist that featured New Hampshire painter Dennis Sheehan, she was inspired to try his method. Beginning her paintings in dark browns and wiping off the image was refreshing, but the most profound point she took from Sheehan was the ability to trust herself and her understanding of composition and value. She no longer painted from photos, or painted from what she had seen – she instead began to paint what she felt. Today, Christina focuses her serene landscapes on the extreme times of day and night, when the light has its greatest impact.