Faculty News: Judy Brown’s Exhibit Featured in Art New England Blog

May 21, 2015

Montserrat College of Art Prof. Judy Brown’s latest show, From the Ground Up, was reviewed in the Art New England Blog.

From the Ground Up
by Debbie Hagan, May 13, 2015

The mind travels easily, meditatively through Judith Brassard Brown’s mixed media paintings on exhibit now and through the end of May at Kingston Gallery in SoWa. As with Dreams of Tuscania, one navigates easily into and around the lyrical curves, textured spaces and warm, rich colors. The paintings read as landscapes with many scenes filled with dusty-yellow skies, green orchards, fields of hay and dirt roads reaching over the horizon. The titles suggest Tuscany, but the scenes could be anywhere: Provence or no place in particular. They’re the ethereal places we imagine when we shut our eyes in search of the romantic, pastoral ideal.

There’s something far more complex going on here, as seen in In Vulci. Something like confetti that sprays the sky. Colorful bits fly, defy gravity, float across the blue skies. Perhaps it’s an explosion, and yet, in most of Brown’s work, this activity feels nonthreatening. Mysteriously, floating on the breeze, almost celebratory, these Klimt-like color squares rain down as glitter or maybe pastel fallout. Some of the floating objects are made from collaged fragments of letters, old documents and receipts—part of the ground, part of the history and part of the continuum we want to know and understand, but will never be able to piece together.

“Life is always straddling the extremes,” Brown says about the work. “We’re in transition all the time.” True, gravity secures us, holds us steadily in place, creating a static, predictable environment. Yet our world is far from static. Action and movement occur in microseconds, shifting our lovely, dreamy space. A fissure in the earth spews particles into the atmosphere, as in Escaping Blue. What has been buried beneath the surface, hidden from our view, is now expelled into the atmosphere. Is it dangerous? Maybe, maybe not. That’s for the viewer to decide.

Of all the mixed media works, In the Red feels the least safe. The intensity of the red—a color that we instinctively associate with heat, intensity and danger—challenges our security. Something’s bubbling-up, exploding. Even so, the painting is tempered by cooler, more reserved paintings on either side. Escaping Blue #4 and Road Home are both abstracted landscapes showing flying debris ascending, defying gravity, floating lighter than air, but pleasantly so, in fields of Dijon yellow.

While all the works are captivating, I’m particularly drawn to Summer Heat. Perhaps it takes me back to countless Midwestern summers, reminding me of the heat’s intensity, the air so thick it’s hard to draw a decent breath. Then as the sun sets, the sky dances and shimmers with lightning. If it’s a good night, a mist of rain will fall.

All works here inspire viewers to think, dream, imagine and even step out of their comfort zones. Ultimately though, nature succeeds by offering respite, beauty and comfort.

Judith Brassard Brown
From the Ground Up
April 29 – May 31, 2015
Kingston Gallery
Boston, MA 02118
See more at artnewengland.com/blogs/from-the-ground-up