by J. Tim Raymond
Waters of March
Something known to all of us, one of the basic elements of life, when water is blue it is a healthy sight.
—John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Studio Hart Gallery is presenting a series of small-scale works on paper in ink and watercolor by Patrick Willett, curated by Gerald Mead.
Viewing these framed scenes of lush waterways from riparian vantage, the rhythms of Brazilian composer Antonio Jobim’s stream-of-consciousness composition, The Waters of March, came to mind.
At first appearing as fresh plein d’air sketches worked out of doors, on closer inspection the deep rich surface texture of pen and ink emphasizes the artist’s careful attention to detail, working his images over time to give the appearance of the river’s flexing muscle in passages of agitation and repose. Willett’s eye for the subtle energies of nature is sharp. Like a minimalist Burchfield, he works muted tonalities of ochre, blue, and gray green to set an emotional tone for each fluid vision. Willett’s glinting glimmering ripples hint at strong psychological undercurrents in the artist’s work.
Followers of geomancy, or sacred geometry, posit Western New York—at the confluence of Lake Erie and the Niagara, racing toward each other at a four-knot chop—as drawing the friction from both bodies of water in a kind of magnetic pulse creating a desire to witness nature at a spiritually significant location.
The viewer may find in these undulating vistas an aid to imagination made almost audibly present.
Willett’s show continues through March 31.