As summer nears its end and the sun’s scorching afternoon rays soften to a peach-tinged glow, North Carolina artists Chip Hemingway and Jaquelin Perry are more than likely outside. The painters, who work mostly en plein air, prefer the summer to its milder brethren, as evidenced by the large body of work the artists have devoted to the season. Now on display through the end of September, Spectrum Gallery is showing a selection of those works in an exhibition titled, “Two Views of Summer.”
“My paintings are about life,” Perry says. “During the summer, I can get outside and paint every day. The winter just doesn’t speak to me in the same way, so that’s when I am going to the grocery store to buy fresh flowers, and fruits and vegetables to set up my own still-life scenes. I don’t really like to paint from photographs.”
The artist hails from Colerain, a rural town in the northeastern corner of the state, just west of the Albemarle Sound. The area offers no shortage of inspiration, from dilapidated barns to scenic fields of what Perry calls “the usual suspects”: cotton, corn, peanuts, soybean, and sage. Her husband grows it all on the couple’s farm.
Another crop that Perry’s husband grows (though this one, she says, is for fun): sunflowers. In the artist’s “Sunflowers on the Farm” (16 inches by 20 inches, oil on canvas), a dirt road winds through tall stalks of the flowers to a whitewashed barn. Perry’s loose strokes and palette of summer greens and yellows complement the pale pastels of an early evening sky.
It’s not just Perry’s surroundings that inspire her, though. Creativity is in her bloodline, most immediately with her mother, Jaqueline Jenkins. Though her mother’s life tragically ended at a young age, Perry is quick to credit her as a muse, along with her grandmother, who just so happened to live down the street from a young Chip Hemingway.
Hemingway, now a father of three, fondly recollects growing up near the Outer Banks and returns regularly to inspect projects he is working on as a principal for Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects. Among these projects is the North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island and the Donal C. O’Brien Sanctuary and Audubon Center at Pine Island in Corolla. Hemingway has left his footprint in Wilmington with work on projects such as the aquarium at Fort Fisher, among others.
“I tell people all the time I draw straight lines during the day and curved lines at night,” Hemingway says. “Painting is kind of like a release from the carefully thought-out lines and drawings you do as part of architecture. My paintings are instead quick, expressive ways to capture where I am.”
During the summer, there’s no telling where Hemingway is. The artist has traveled all the way up to Nantucket back down to Nicaragua these past few months, painting supplies and surfboard in tow. Like Perry, he captures scenic beaches and dirt roads with loose, instinctive strokes on the canvas.
In the artist’s piece “Fish Beach” (24 inches by 30 inches, oil on canvas), the viewer catches a glimpse of Monhegan Island, formerly a Brittish fishing camp made famous by the artists who would settle in for the summer there (Edward Hopper, George Bellows and Jamie Wyeth, to name a few). Hemingway, too, was captivated by the island’s beauty, reconstructing it with neutral tones of earthy greens and browns and his signature pastel sky tinged with the same Carolina blue that lights up Perry’s canvases.
“Both Jaquelin and Chip capture the landscape really well, but what you’re seeing are two very different views of summer,” Rhonda Stroud of Spectrum Gallery says. “Chip is very much a coastal painter, capturing different scenes from his travels up and down the coast, while Jaquelin is inspired by what’s in her more immediate surroundings, including the florals and bald cypress trees you don’t find right on the beach.”
Despite disparate views, so to speak, the artists agree that their connection to nature drives their work. “Everything I do, including my architecture, is deeply rooted in nature,” Hemingway concludes. “For me, art is all about how we can connect to the beauty that’s around us.”
Two Views of Summer
Art work by Jaquelin Perry and Chip Hemingway
Hangs through September
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