The Tory Folliard Gallery is ushering in summer with two new exhibitions by painter Mary Alice Wimmer [MFA ’64] and metalworker and sculptor Jessica Calderwood.
On display through July 6, Wimmer’s “New Paintings” and Calderwood’s “New Sculpture” feature fine detail, vivid color, social commentary and, according to gallery assistant director Rebecca Sidman, elements of absurdity.
“Both of (the exhibits) dip into the surreal. They have these elements that we like at the gallery,” Sidman noted.
Wimmer’s clearly defined paintings, with sharp lines and keen detail, are influenced by Victorian-era cabinets of curiosities, or collections of geological, archaeological, and antique items, artwork, and general oddities. Wimmer’s exhibit, which also includes four silverpoint drawings of animal skulls and cups on a table, is also reminiscent of Victorian natural history sketches and paintings.
With black matte backgrounds inspired by Dutch still life paintings, Wimmer’s eight vibrant watercolors, containing birds, butterflies and other insects, frogs, vegetables, and natural materials like rocks, birds’ nests and eggs, appear even more striking. The stark color contrasts also serve to illustrate the artist’s tribute to Vanitas art, Dutch still life paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries which depicted objects associated with wealth, pleasure and death in order to symbolize the impermanence of life, the fleeting nature of pleasure, and the finality of death. Many of Wimmer’s paintings, including “Nightshade” and “The Blue Thread,” showcase red and green peppers, blue frogs, and brightly-colored butterflies and rocks suspended in space, floating, like thoughts or bits of a dream.