Art Outside the Box: New England Watercolor Society Signature Members Show

Can an artist break new ground, step out on untried paths, and still demonstrate superb control and technical mastery? To judge by the Signature Members Show of the New England Watercolor Society (NEWS), the answer is a resounding “yes.” Visitors to the show at the Guild of Boston Artists gallery on Newbury Street will certainly find expertly rendered traditional paintings of New England scenes that the word “watercolor” calls to mind, but they will also encounter striking abstract paintings, edgy compositions, and challenging experiments with color and light that expand the capacities of the genre and carry the viewer into new territory. The exhibit offers an exceptional opportunity to appreciate the high degree of artistry and technical mastery attainable in this challenging medium – pushed, in the words of critic B. Amore, to expressive and technical limits – and to acquire unique artworks by some of New England’s premier painters.

Although many of the paintings on display offer evidence of remarkable powers of observation and innovation, no single style dominates the exhibition. In fact, the remarkable diversity of visions and techniques is at once apparent. “Our members are a really eclectic group, with talents branching out in many directions,” says NEWS president and Boston resident, Wendy Hale. “This exhibit showcases the creativity and technical ability possible in water media.”

This year’s exhibition judge, who chose the paintings for the Society’s prestigious awards, is Cindy Baron, AWS, a distinguished painter, teacher and critic. The exhibit runs from Feb. 6 to March 3, with a reception and awards presentation that was held on Feb. 9.

Award winners included Boston resident Kate Sullivan who received an Honorable Mention for “Berkeley and Boylston Streets”, Winchester resident Carolyn Latanisian, who received the Creative Catalyst Award for “Left to Rust, Bethlehem Steel”, and Somerville resident Seth Berkowitz who received the Marcie McManus Memorial Reward for “Inman Square Winter.” Irena Roman’s “Harvey” won the Gold Medal, Steven Lush’s “First and Finest” won the Silver, and Gigi Burboeck’s “Windows in the Night” won the Bronze. Other award winners included Robert J. O’Brien for “Pensive,” Judy Metcalfe for “Free Spirit”, and Robert Noreika for “Ice, Wind and Fire”.

As part of the Society’s commitment to education, award-winning member artists will give free painting demonstrations and gallery talks on weekends at 1 p.m.

The Society, which  traces its history to 1885 and numbers such figures as John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Andrew Wyeth, and Ruth Wynn among its past luminaries, today claims nearly 200 signature members and an overall membership approaching 400.

NEWS Signature Members Show, Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St., Feb. 6 to March 3, Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sundays noon – 4 p.m. Painting demonstrations Sundays, Feb. 24 (Ann Trainor Domingue). Gallery talks every Saturday at 1 p.m., Feb. 23 (Ann Hart) and March 2 (Kristin Stashenko).

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