November 5, 2009
This month, in the Julian Scott Memoral Gallery in Johnson State College's Dibden Center for the Arts, an exhibit of works honoring Woodbury, VT artist and teacher James Gahagan (1927-1999) will be on display. This memorial exhibit features two of Gahagan's paintings, two sculptures by Patricia deGogorza Gahagan, and paintings by thirteen of his students who have gone on with their own work in the arts. Here, in the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery they share their work and honor their teacher. This show is bright, alive, and thriving with bold gesture and color. A gallery talk for the event will be held on Thursday, November 5 at 3 p.m.
Gahagan had painted in Vermont since his years at Goddard College in Plainfield (1949 - 1951.) Artist Hans Hofmann, one of Gahagan's teachers, had given him a small stipend to survive on for ensuing summers; he painted in an old barn in Plainfield (now the athletic field).
In the summer of 1971 a small group of young artists arrived in the Vermont countryside (Woodbury) to begin their studies in painting and drawing with James Gahagan. Some came from New York City (many were students from Pratt Art Institute) to live in tents in the wilderness. They set up their easels in a geodesic dome, and shared their meals in a screen tent. In the woods they were to draw from nature, swim in the pond, and attend life drawing sessions in the Dome each week night.
Over two summers in the wilderness - students witnessed color-in-nature and experienced life in the woods. Sensations were fresh and able to touch them deeply. For James Gahagan "color" was not merely a concept but an epiphany. His passion, like a poem, revealed that the best way to touch The Fleeting was not to "capture" but to "embody." A bird song, a sunset, a cloud, a feeling these moments confess inner-truths about conflict, joy, loss, and duality. This lineage of painting -moving and shifting color - conflicted, dualistic and poignant - carries on.
Now in middle careers, this group of thirteen artists, former students of Gahagan, display their paintings in the Julian Scott Gallery through November 21, 2009. Alongside their teacher, they offer a unique glimpse of painting's lineage from Gahagan.