Friday, August 17, 2007

An Elegant Distress

I am eagerly anticipating the reception for the exhibit Intuition for Helen Phillips and myself at the DDP gallery in Fayetteville on August 30th. The show went up Wednesday, August 15th, and I think it looks great. Dede Peters, the popular Fayetteville gallerist, always does an amazing job of putting a show together. She has allowed me to view my works as if for the first time. The set up is clean and spacious allowing enough room for Helen's and my work to stand out on its own, while also letting the work mingle about sharing similarities or perhaps stories.

Helen's work is mysterious and wonderful. It is earthy and rooted, yet ethereal at the same time. I can't wait to talk more with Helen about her work. I am honored to be showing with her.

Today, I want to give you another little taste of a painting of mine that will be in the exhibit. The painting above is entitled "An Elegant Distress," it is 40x30", mixed media on canvas.

This piece is a quiet force, like a "one-two punch." It appears to be a large abstract painting divided into three basic parts; sky, horizon, and body until you get into it and see some of the subtleties. The dark band that is present in much of my work appears again, this band is made up of my favorite blue, which is actually a pthalo blue and raw umber mixed together, creating a dreamy, dark rich blue with just a hint of green.

Above the dark band we see a grey dirty cloud-like shape being stirred up, perhaps blowing across the painting. This part of the painting is unusual for my work as I usually stay away from light or faded colors preferring the darker richer colors that I am accustom to. I was actively trying to stay a little lighter on the top of this piece to see if I could still feel satisfied with the work. The top base color is a milky dingy white, tainted with pale blue, and there are little light colored breaks in the surface that could summon up the idea of rain, or movement. Another surprising detail is that under the surface of the cloud-like shape there appears a pale but almost acrid yellow. It is emerging from behind the surface and creates a little edge to the piece. Dede Peters likens it to the color of a photo that has not been properly "fixed." If the top of the painting is where the drama is , then the lower portion of the painting roots the work. The lower section is green in color with texture and a brighter yellow peeking out again from the underneath.

The title "An Elegant Distress" came from the ideas and impressions that I received from people who had viewed the piece while still in the studio. They seemed drawn to the piece and yet slightly unnerved by it. It is a clean, almost minimal piece in comparison to some of my others. There are no comfort shapes, nothing to float on the surface to soften the work. When I think minimal, I think of elegance, yet I couldn't ignore that dirty, yellowing grey mass at the top of the painting, and thought it might hold the source of the viewers or my distress. I also think the piece is tighter and more reserved than some of my pieces, like a person who is forlorn but must keep it together, they may find themselves in "An Elegant Distress."

See "An Elegant Distress" as well as other new works, at the DDP gallery
located at 7 East Mountain St. Fayetteville.
Open: W-F 12-7 and Sat. 10-5 and by appointment.
"Intuition" Works by Megan Chapman and Helen Phillips
August 15- September 29 2007

Join us for the opening :
Aug 30th 5-8pm


  1. Hope I can live up to the goodness you send my way!

    When I first saw "An Elegant Distress", I thought of some of my own impossible-to-recreate darkroom accidents. And then I thought of Sally Mann's "Deep South" series. Attached is a link for those unfamiliar with the great photographer....

    For me, "An Elegant Distress" makes me feel "Strangely Peaceful."

  2. dede- those are lovely images you linked to!

    megan- looking forward to the reception on the 30th!