The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 15, 2006


Three visiting artists, three differing styles

Artists Gail Erwin, Rob Diebboll and Sarah Jeppson, whose works are now on display at the Gleason Public Library, have one primary thing in common: they all work out of the ArtSpace in Maynard, home to about 65 artists.

The works of the artists are interconnected, but once you understand their point of view, you can quickly identify who created each piece. In keeping with the holiday season, the artists bring to mind Dickens with their individual approaches. Erwin finds her motivation in the past, Diebboll with the present, and Jeppson with the possibilities of the future.

The exhibit — aptly entitled "Three Artists from ArtSpace Maynard" — closes on January 2. Find time if you can to pay it a visit, and you can test your skills of observation. Can you identify the artists without looking at the credit first?

Erwin maps out the past

Erwin works in mixed media to create her pieces. Her "Tracery" series explores the illusive and changing aspects of memory. You can just make out shapes and images in her work — is that a map? Is that a river? Is that a tree? Is that a long-forgotten relative?

"Photo-etching and alternative photo processes allow for multiple printings so that traces of earlier layers can be seen under the surface image reflecting the passage of time," says Erwin about the series. She places image upon image along with handmade paper and sheer fabric.

Works from Erwin's "Mapscape" series are also in the show. The complete installation includes 500 sheets of handmade paper. Only nine are on display here. Each nine-inch square piece is part map and part landscape. The block contains permutations of a specific color: yellow, green, blue, brown. When placed together in a grid, the separate pieces work together.

"The assembled grid forms another pattern, another map, another landscape, another world," says the artist.

A Maynard native, Erwin has had solo exhibitions at the Kingston Gallery in Boston, the Indian Hill Music Center in Littleton, the libraries in Acton and Sudbury and the Emerson Umbrella Center in Concord. She participates in about three to four group shows every year.

The artist earned a B.F.A. from the Massachusetts College of Art. She also holds a J.D. from the Western New England College School of Law in Springfield, a M.S. in Education from the State University of New York at Oswego, and a B.A. from William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y. As the chair of the ArtSpace Maynard Gallery Committee, she is committed to bringing the art of her colleagues to the public.

Grounded in the present

The paintings from Diebboll are immediate mainly because he paints directly from nature, including landscape, people or both. These pictures are all about the here and now. Although the composition of the painting took longer, the viewer sees only a moment captured in time. He enjoys working in Gloucester, at the Cape, the islands of Maine, and the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.

"My work is figurative, but often leans towards abstraction," says Diebboll. Still, you can clearly identify the elements in a painting. He often strings individuals together, and invites you to ask about their interaction — why is a man walking so far behind a woman, or perhaps the real question is, why is she rushing so far ahead? There are separate characters each doing their own thing on a beach, but how separate are they? Some are active by jogging, some are passive by just staring out to the horizon and one mischievously combines the two states by actively fishing while passively sitting in a beach chair.

"There is a psychological aspect to the images, often with multiple themes, such as fear, calm, solitude or humor," says the artist. When working with a winter landscape, he captures the stark and bare sense of cold.

Diebboll works primarily in oil, but also uses watercolor, acrylic, graphite, charcoal and pastel. The colors are muted and saturated.

Now living in Lincoln, Diebboll grew up in rural Michigan in a family of artists. He earned a B.F.A. at Bennington College. Although trained as a painter and photographer, Diebboll ended up working in software engineering in Massachusetts. In 2000, he decided to focus on art full-time. Since then he has given two solo exhibitions at the Lincoln Library and has shown his work in a group setting at the Concord Art Association, as well as at the DeCordova Museum, where he taught drawing and painting courses between 1998 and 2003.

Taking a forward look

Jeppson brings humor and poetry to her collages and monoprints. Her titles and content are provocative, and invite the viewer to take the next step. Some of her pieces on display include: "Dip your toein my ocean" and "Listen to the animal insideof you."

"I've never done much of anything in the traditional manner," says Jeppson, "My human figures have always been politely labeled, 'Sarah's people.' They look androgynous, and their hands, feet and features are too big. They are painfully awkward beings, their insides expressed on the outside." Many of Sarah's people are actually animals, but they show familiar human expressions. The colors are bright and vivid. These are fun and happy characters.

A Maynard native, Jeppson has presented solo shows at diverse locations including Wabash College in Indiana, Temple University in Philadelphia, the Mammyth Bakery in Missoula and the Chamberlain's Rose Madder Gallery in Worcester. Her group shows include the Copley Society in Boston and ArtsWorcester

Awards for Jeppson

Jeppson has received three awards: the Artists Alternative Award from the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts in West Hartford, third prize in a regional show at the Fitchburg Art Museum and the Best Work on Paper at the Arts Worcester Biennial.

Receiving her B.A. in Art from Hampshire College in Amherst, Jeppson has completed additional studies at Columbus College, Clark University and the Worcester Art Museum.

The work of all three artists from ArtSpace in Maynard seems very suited to library walls. Just as Jeppson has illustrated a children's book, it's not difficult to image Erwin's work on a history tome or Diebboll's work on a piece of realistic fiction. You be the judge.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito