Art We Love and Why – Flower Power
Who doesn’t love flowers? Well, the truth is that when it comes to art, some people find a vase of flowers uncompelling at best and downright boring at worst. One look at the works here, however, and you’ll see that there’s a floral array for every taste and style – and they can all be found right here in Provincetown’s galleries.
Anne Salas, Red Poppies #1905, oil on canvas with 23 karat gold leaf (28” x 32”) – Alden Gallery
Anne Salas’ flower paintings exude luxurious sensuality. There’s the actual luxury of the gold leaf shimmering through the blooms, then there’s the implied decadence of the blowsy poppies. But as much as anything it’s the extravagance of the painted surface. Layer upon layer – starting with an underlayer of paint splashes and followed by lush foliage for which she cleverly uses dripping paint to imply texture and veining. In less-skilled hands it could all be a hot mess, but instead it’s confident and absolutely gorgeous.
Donald Saaf, Vermont Phoenix, mixed media and textile on canvas (40” x 30”) – Rice Polack Gallery
From across the room you might take this painting for an altarpiece. And up close the benevolent faces peering down from their sunflower halos over the tiny humans could indeed be seen as some sort of floral deities. The bold composition and large-scale command from afar, but there’s also a wealth of pattern and texture to enjoy with your nose to the glass. I won’t pretend to know what it all really means, but when the plants take over, I hope they’re like this.
Ellen Rolli, Provencal Vessel with Roses, oil on canvas (10” x 10”) – Outermost Gallery
Despite the title, this piece is more about painting than it is about flora. A vase of flowers may have been the inspiration, but the appeal is in the push and pull of the painting’s elements. The flowers both explode from and recede into the pale gray void around them. The “vase” is a flat block of color, anchoring the composition and providing visual contrast with the fluid, swirling markings above. It’s strong and delicate all at once – not unlike a rose, I guess you’d have to say.
Sandra Wakeen, Villa Balbianello, oil on panel (8” x 10”) – Simie Maryles Gallery
If you’re going to paint a pot of flowers, why not one set atop the sun-drenched shores of an Italian lake? No tourism poster could outdo this luminous scene in tempting the viewer to travel there ASAP. The brushwork is fresh and spontaneous like the best of plein air painting, and the shimmering play of light and shadow on the wisteria is beautifully set against the hazy blue hills in the distance. It’s a floral love letter to melt the hardest heart.
George Rogers is an artist and ceramicist. After a career in museums including the MFA in Boston and the Smithsonian, he and his husband moved to Provincetown full time four years ago.