Art at the Gleason Public Library intersperses compatible works

by Anne Marie Brako

Photographer David Kulik and painters Barbara Newell Jones and Cortni Frecha pause for a moment on the Library stairwell while a llama peeks over their shoulders. (Photo by Anne Marie Brako)

The current exhibit at the Gleason Library features three artists: photographer David Kulik, oil/watercolor painter Barbara Newell Jones and 3-D specialist Cortni Frecha. Kulik and Jones both capture landscapes in their work: Kulik takes a stark, almost black-and-white approach with his lens while Jones highlights color in depicting the outdoors. Frecha showcases animals on her preferred canvas of wood resulting in 3-D depictions of creatures native to the area, including chickens, pigs and llamas (although not exactly native to Carlisle, there are nine llamas living here).

The Gleason Library curators have chosen to intersperse the work from the three artists on the wall of the main entrance as well as throughout the walls of the library. The works are visually compatible, although each artist’s work is distinctive as well. Each artist also has his/her own separate enclave: Kulik’s photographs are on the wall going up the second-floor stairway, Jones’ oils are on the first-floor stairway, and Frecha’s  beasts are around the main desk.

All three of the artists will be on hand to discuss their work and approaches at a reception on Saturday, January 21, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The reception will be held on the second floor landing and light refreshments will be served. The works are for sale with a percentage benefitting the library, and labels posted beside each piece identifies the title and price.

Marking the “End of Kodachrome”

Kulik, a Judy Farm Road resident, works as a software architect at Oracle by day, but comes from an artistic background. He switched from engineering to a major in fine arts at SUNY/Buffalo. Starting out as a black-and-white purist, Kulik developed and printed his own film for seven years before turning to color when Kodachrome became the rage.

“There was something about the intensity of the color, and the almost 3-D effect of the emulsion, that drew me in and knocked me out,” said Kulik. He noted that only a professional photo lab “using a secret, patented Kodak process and Kodak-supplied chemistry” could develop the photos. Making prints from slides became expensive and Kulik accumulated “lots of boxes” before he went back to engineering and made his living full-time in computer science.

Photography became a hobby

In 2008, Kulik acquired his first digital camera. He appreciated not having to buy film, have it developed, and maintain a dark room at home. He was not alone, and Kodachrome labs worldwide started closing due to lack of customers. In 2009, Kodak announced it would stop making the film. By 2010, Dwayne’s Photo in Kansas remained the only place in the world that would process Kodachrome film. The lab finally announced it would not accept any more of it after December 30.

Kulik decided to mark the end of an era by rescuing his Leica camera from mothballs and his 17 rolls of Kodachrome stockpiled in the refrigerator. The entire exhibit at the Gleason showcases his work as a photographer in November and December of 2010.

“It was almost a religious experience, as I’m sure it was for many photographers who did the same,” recalled Kulik. He took all the pictures in Massachusetts, and most within an hour’s drive of his home. He shot the final batch on a post-Christmas day trip to Gloucester and Rockport. He shipped off his last half-dozen rolls on December 28. The lab had received so many rolls that it took two months for Kulik to receive the slides. He then set about converting them to digital form, a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. The 24 prints at the Gleason represent select photos from the project.

Kulik brings his eye as a black-and-white photographer to his work in Kodachrome. The color is muted, and highlights the bold, black lines and white shapes in his pictures. By framing the work on white mats and thin black frames, he enhances the emphasis on the black and the white in the compositions. Kulik’s work marks the debut of his exhibit entitled “The End of Kodachrome.”

It also marks the first show in about 30 years where he is a primary contributor. In laying Kodachrome to rest, Kulik has re-energized his work as an artist.

Painting natural surroundings

Jones likes to works in both oils and watercolors, capturing both landscape and seascapes outdoors. Her colorful depictions feature beautiful scenes of fields of flowers, and waves crashing on the sand. Elegant gold frames enhance the brightness of her images.

“I enjoy being outside in every season and feel that the colors and values of my subjects and the essence of a place can best be captured on location and with direct observation,” noted Jones. “The excitement and the immediacy of painting on the spot are my inspiration.”

Galleries exhibiting her work include Massachusetts locations such as Lexington, Manchester by the Sea, and Rockport, as well as Southampton (Long Island) and Bermuda. Jones received three awards from the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society in 2007, including the LeRoy Hebert Award of Excellence, the Popular Prize, and an Honorable Mention. She has studied painting with numerous teachers, including Carlisle’s own Maris Platais of River Road, a proponent of the “en plein air” (in the open air) approach to painting outdoors.

Bringing animals indoors

Frecha offers a whimsical look at the barnyard with 3-D creations. She depicts pigs, goats and chickens on acrylic-painted wood. Wild animals are also around the corner, with portrayals of mice, bears and even whales. And canine pets are also included in the collection with a warm bunch of “Westies.”

One of the most interesting pieces in the show decorates a column of the second floor. From afar, it appears to be a white banner sporting Asian characters, but a closer look at “Chicken Footprints in the Snow” shows tracks interspersed with leaf prints.

Humans are not left out of the artistic celebration. Large wooden dancers encircle a case on the first floor. They are lively participants in the show, and children are sure to interact with and touch the objects. Frecha said she doesn’t mind if people “touch” her work or even if kids are tempted and actually “pet” the animals. As an artist who works in 3-D, she seems to embrace making her work interactive and accessible to the public.

You can visit with the artists and their creations at a reception on Saturday, January 21, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.  ∆