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Sarah Sutro, Landscape Composite #6, 2015. Acrylic on Canvas [source: Gallery 51]
Sarah Sutro, Landscape Composite #6, 2015. Acrylic on canvas [source: Gallery 51]

Colour and Form: Beauty in Abstraction

Overwhelmed by large museums? Would you like to take a moment to look at artwork, but you don’t want to pay admission or dedicate an entire afternoon? There is an answer. MCLA Gallery 51, 51 Main Street, North Adams, Mass.  Now on view is Colour and Form: Beauty in Abstraction.

Abstraction is a Herculean term when applied to artwork. It can be used to identify work inspired by materials and personally imposed limitations, such as Sol LeWitt’s massive wall drawings, to paintings inspired by instinctual responses to the conscious and unconscious. Three local, artists, Kathline Carr, Dawn Nelson, and Sarah Sutro present three discrete approaches to the beauty of visual expression.

Dawn Nelson

The first paintings upon entering the gallery are large energetic swirling stained canvases.  Responding to both the nature of paint, its drips, splashes and unintentional reactions to the surface, combined with instinctual inspiration, Dawn Nelson provides a meditative reflection of a moment in time. These lustrous works are not for those who intend to rush in and rush out of the gallery. They are for slow consideration.

Dawn Nelson, Floating Off. Water-based oil on canvas.
Dawn Nelson, Floating Off. Water-based oil on canvas.

Kathline Carr

Wielding a palate of deep cool blues, blacks, greys, and umbers, Kathline Carr’s paintings evoke where we live without giving it specific form. Her deftness of line and volume create a sense of power, much like the invincible ferocity of nature. A space is created that feels familiar but is not represented, and not identified. An additional treat is a group of small monoprints, often referred to as painterly prints. These prints exude a rhythm and texture usually reserved for larger works on paper. 

Kathline Carr, Ley Line. Oil on canvas.
Kathline Carr, Ley Line. Oil on canvas.

Sarah Sutro

Sarah Sutro’s quote best describes her own work.

“The pure qualities of painting: paint stroke, color, texture, scraped line, tone and light, and the simplest possible description of landscape, unite to create vivid horizontals that take the eye back and forth in the experience of absorbing landscape space. Minimal, modular, abstracted yet referencing nature, light glows through each composition.”


Sarah Sutro, Landscape Composite #5, 2015. Acrylic on Canvas.
Sarah Sutro, Landscape Composite #5, 2015. Acrylic on canvas.

Using hand made inks, India ink, and water based paints, Sutra constructs what initially appears to be a minimalist ribbon of radiantly colored panels ranging from one end of the spectrum to the other. Upon closer inspection these unique compositions produce the same quivering sensations of a sunset, a sunrise, an ocean horizon, and incoming squalls.

The works in this exhibit are beautiful, but they are not passive. These paintings are tough and require time and examination. If you are willing to decelerate and look, you will be rewarded.Gallery 51 has been a stalwart fixture on Main Street in North Adams for over 10 years. It has consistently sought out local award winning talent and prestigious artists from other regions and countries. Perpetuating this reputation is in no small part due to its director, Michelle Daly and its curator, Arthur De Bow. It is always free and open to the public seven days a week. Drop in; while you are in downtown North Adams, it’s always worth the trip.

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