[Sidebar] The Worcester Phoenix
Sept. 22 - 29, 2000

[Art Reviews]

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School figures

After 100 years, Bancroft School
alums mix it up at UMass Med

by Leon Nigrosh


at the UMass Medical School Gallery, 55 Lake Avenue North, through October 1.

Visiting its bucolic campus and contemporary buildings nestled along Shore Drive, it's hard to believe that the

Bancroft School is 100 years old. But it's true, and to mark the centennial milestone, 26 current and former faculty members, students, friends, and even grandparents are currently displaying their artwork on the walls of the UMass Medical School lobby.

Organized by art-department chair Winslow Myers, the show's more than 60 drawings, paintings, and photographs -- in diverse styles and varied motifs -- present an eclectic, but enjoyable, array of talent. Myers's own work is large, dark, and nubbly. His painted canvases, such as Construction Site at Night and Pier and Blown Sail are filled with humanity but no humans. His darkened Garrett Room houses a chair, lamp, and rumpled jacket, but we tend to look right past these items and focus our attention through the window in search of a hint of activity.

Well-known Worcester-area photographer B.A. King was graduated from Bancroft in 1952. His attention-grabbing 20x30-inch black-and-white photograph, Young Man and Fish, presents a very strong image of a pensive man musing about the day's large catch shimmering in the foreground. Bancroft faculty member Bob Dec also concerns himself with water in his three homages to Monet, but instead of fish, the photo, pastel, and acrylic painting focus on lily pads. His large acrylic Reflections of Indian Lake #1 portrays this precious pocket of water in its calm, bright, reflective state as it cradles anchored sailboats and their mirrored images.

Worcester artist Erica Davis Wade ('71) credits Bancroft's art-history courses with sparking her interest in the subject. After graduation she went on to earn a degree in art history from Tufts. During all of those school years she took as many studio-art courses as her schedule allowed, and today she divides her time between weaving and painting. Her three brash, semi-abstract oil paintings in the exhibit were painted mostly en plein air, with Wade lugging her paints and canvas to the site and then putting on finishing touches back in her studio. Her Mangrove, Elbow Cay is the most readable of her works -- the water is blue and the vegetation is green. Her local scenes, Institute Park and Moore State Park, are splashed with hot colors that create more of an impression of the vistas than an accurate representation.

Trish Lyell was graduated from Bancroft in 1977, and is now an art professor at Skidmore College where she prepared her Evisceration Cartoons A and B. These mixed-media works have been executed with rapid, lively strokes and vibrant colors that give the impression of intertwined internal body parts that have just been freshly exposed. Her Humid Dream (as opposed to "wet?") is done in a similar vein, but is completely filled with nearly monochromatic color. These works bear a strong resemblance to paintings by Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) in which biomorphic shapes tumble into each other in a manner that is at once attractive and disturbing, which will surely fascinate the habitués of UMass Medical.

Laurent Martin, who was graduated just this past spring, paints with a lot of blue. His Portrait of Steph contains the entire range from cobalt to teal, yet he manages to create a broad sense of background depth and deftly shades and models his subject's face. His five-foot-long Triple Self Portrait is also composed chiefly of every tone of blue, highlighted only by the red-orange of his hair. His work is very consistent, purposeful, and quite advanced for someone just starting out. The same can be said for senior Maggie Brophy whose Red Hair and Green Leaves and Fashion Twist are remarkable for their visual strength and composition. The major difference between the paintings by these two students is that Brophy freely incorporates the entire color spectrum.

Encyclopedic exhibitions such as this, with their wide range of mediums, subject matter, and artistic proficiency, are often hard to appreciate. But in this particular case the overriding theme is one of joy, and thanks from the participants to an institution that has remained committed to the arts for the past 100 years -- and into the future.

The UMass Medical gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call (508) 856-2000 or 853-2640.


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