The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 7, 2004


Art from life: photos and paintings at Gleason Library

Paintings by Carlisle's own Gail Fitzpatrick and photographs by Sudbury photographer Edward Arees are the subjects of a new art show at Gleason Library that opened Wednesday. Although their media and styles are strikingly different, each artist works for the same goal.

"I won't show a picture if it doesn't capture the feeling I had when I took it," says Arees

Fitzpatrick asserts:"I make sure [the painting] captures the feeling I have about the subject. I feel obligated to go beyond mere representation. "

Sudbury photographer Edward Arees

Gail Fitzpatrick is shown in her studio on Bedford Road. (Photo by Ellen Huber)

Edward Arees began taking photographs by using his father's camera and learning basic technique from him. He grew up to become a professor of neuropsychology at Northeastern University and a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, both of which, he said, afforded him a lot of time to look through microscopes at the artistic images in nature, and to "explore the use of lenses."

It wasn't long before he became interested in creating his own artistic images. In 1983 he went to a photography show and viewed the work of people in camera clubs. "I was trying to be as good as what I saw on the wall. I took classes, I entered contests — I even learned how to photograph the eye of a fly." After some years of learning and competing in photo shows, even as he was publishing papers and winning accolades in his scientific career, it occurred to Arees that prizes were pyrrhic victories: "You have to do what interests you. You have to be yourself. My own style is to photograph scenes as I see them. I prefer to do rural landscapes. I think houses and fences often add to the natural image, making a good composition and giving the image its own special character."

The same is true for portraits. Arees often photographs weddings. He follows the bride and groom around a house or the reception, watching their mannerisms and expressions. Then he tries to capture them on film showing the personalities and movements that are distinctly theirs.

Many of the images in the Gleason show are scenes of New England and Scotland — his favorite place to photograph — but there are also scenes of western canyons and waterfalls in New Zealand.

Arees uses a variety of cameras, including a Fuji, a Mamiya, and a Hasselblad, and most often uses 56mm film. Still, he says, "It isn't this [pointing to a camera] that takes the picture; it's [pointing to his head] this."

Carlisle's Gail Fitzpatrick

Gail Fitzpatrick is shown in her studio on Bedford Road. (Photo by Ellen Huber)
Entering Gail Fitzpatrick's studio, a converted truck barn behind her house, is like entering a picture of Gail herself. Natural light pours into the two-story building on a profusion of sketches, watercolors, oils, books, painter's tools, and many, many photographs. Fitzpatrick uses photographs as models, as well as studies of texture, shape, and pattern. "I photograph a lot," she says, "and then I put the photos away for a long time and don't look at them. Then I take them out again and find things in them to paint." This technique of almost clearing the memory of the original image allows Fitzpatrick to look at the photographs with a fresh perspective. "Even if I'm not particularly interested in them when I put them away, there is always something new to see, or the germ of a new idea when I take them out again."

Fitzpatrick seems always to be thinking about art and always to have been creating it. The administration at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School saw her focus and direction when she was a student there and shifted her courses around so that she could study some form of art every day for all four of her high school years. She went on to several challenging college experiences. All through her training, Fitzpatrick took photographs: "I photograph even when I don't have time to paint."

Fitzpatrick's husband Thomas, a web site developer, set up one of the first publishing programs on mainframe computer (before PC's) and taught her the use of a Macintosh. This led to a long career in freelance graphic design for her. In the last eight years, Fitzpatrick has specialized in icons and graphic interface design.

Her ten-panel oil of lily pads, created to be shown in the children's room of Gleason Library, was based on a photograph. It became a study of "shape and its infinite variety," she says. Water is one of her favorite subjects, because its shape and plane are constantly changing.

Fitzpatrick's studio is also replete with portraits: a 20-year career in professional portrait painting has yielded portraits of children (including her own, Grace and Charlie), adults, and families in charcoal, oil, and pastel. Photographs, especially candid shots, are an integral part of the portrait process, in order to ensure that she catches the character of her subject. Examples can be seen in Gleason Library's show and on her portrait web site:

Art at the Gleason

The exhibit of the work of Edward Arees and Gail Fitzpatrick runs from May 5 to June 29. A reception, to which the public is invited, will be held at the library from 2-4 p.m. on May 15. Art at the Gleason is sponsored by the Trustees and Friends of Gleason Public Library.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito