Silver Circle features Figurative Exhibit

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Mon., Feb. 3, 2014
This self-portrait by Bud Cook is one of many works on display at the Silver Circle Gallery. Photos by D. Coffey.
This self-portrait by Bud Cook is one of many works on display at the Silver Circle Gallery. Photos by D. Coffey.

Six big bronze sculptures greet visitors to the Silver Circle Gallery in Putnam these days. The 4-foot-tall pieces are the work of sculptor Nick Swearer. They are part of the gallery’s fourth annual Figurative Exhibit, featuring the work of nine different artists.

Gallery owner Carly Martin has put together a show featuring sculpture, sketches and paintings. Works from artists Bud Cook, Nora Ferragatta St. Jean, Jean-Paul Jacquet, Ashleigh Kay, Jacqueline Lucier, Leila Namin, Sky Power, Karen Reid and Nick Swearer are on display. Martin said the show offers the public a chance to see how each artist interprets the world through the human figure.

For Martin it’s an interesting psychological study. “The most interesting part for me is what the art brings up,” she said. “What kind of emotional response are people having to the work, whether it’s good, bad or ugly? Art is all about whatever an individual finds important.” 

What visitors will find are works that range from classic renderings of the human form to watercolors, mixed media pieces, abstracts and delicate portraits. There are women in different yoga poses, portraits done in thick brush strokes, and rough sculptures.

“Obviously everyone can relate to the human form,” Martin said with a laugh. Whether people are comfortable with the works or not is another question. But Martin said drawing the human form is a basic requirement for many artists. “It teaches the brain observational skills,” she said. “It teaches you to render what you see in efficient ways.”

Where these nine artists have gone from there gives the show its character. “We all see things so differently,” Martin said. Putting that out in public can be a scary thing for an artist, she said. “Artists want to talk to people,” she said. “This is their way of communicating. These are their stories, their commentaries, their perspectives on the world and humankind.”  

The reason to go to the show is to make you think, according to Swearer. “Art isn’t only about beauty,” he said. “It’s about ideas. Everyone brings their own ideas to artwork.” What emotions that art triggers in a viewer is what interests him. “You go for your intellectual curiosity,” he said. “It’s like reading a novel or watching a play. Usually there is a story behind it, even if it’s a simple portrait.”

Swearer admits that his sculptures are crude. “I wanted them to be that way because humans are imperfect,” he said. “I’m more interested in the psychological end of it.”

The show comes complete with artists’ statements so a viewer can read what motivations and purposes each had when they created the works on display. For Namin, it was important to capture the “theatricality of the moment.” For Reid, it was an attempt to tap into emotion through color, gesture and form. For Cook, it was about technique. For Powers it was about painting emotion.

Martin admits the statements might be hard for a layperson to understand. And she knows that not everyone will like the work. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t look.

“We’re trained to read and write very well, but we aren’t trained to look at art,” Swearer said. “Art is a language all its own with line, color, form and volume. People shouldn’t be afraid of art,” he said. “They should have fun with it.”

The show runs through March 2.


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