David Estey is inspired by the American artists of the Abstract Expressionism movement, and the work in his current exhibit, “David Estey — Abstraction,” now on display at Husson University’s Robert E. White Gallery, certainly shows that influence.
Yet, Estey issues a caution to viewers: Don’t read too much more into the work in the exhibit, which includes 11 paintings and two drawings. The art is all about the aesthetics of good design.
“I’m trying to make sure that indulging my diverse interests and abilities doesn’t get in the way of creating purely aesthetic, visual symphonies that can be taken directly into the soul, without any need to identify a subject or story,” Estey wrote in the exhibition program.
A Fort Fairfield native who grew up there and in Belfast, which is where he now lives, Estey uses color to convey that visual symphony in works such as “Winter Warmth,” a 2009 oil with a heart of warm yellows, oranges and reds surrounded by greens, blues and purples. The colors convey a lot of meaning, and a sense of longing, as if the viewer is peeking at the scene through a window on a cold night and yearning for the heat within.
“Winter Warmth” also displays another Estey trait — his habit of stopping work on a painting and picking it up later, in fact sometimes years later. “Winter Warmth” is marked 1997-2009.
Another piece in the exhibit is “Salem,” a 2008 oil-and-acrylic collaboration with noted calligraphic artist Jan Owen, also a Belfast resident. Owen calligraphed words from a statement about the history of the 1692 Salem witch trials. It seems like a random event for Estey to want to depict, until the viewer (or reader, in this case) comes to the end of the statement in which Owen’s writing reveals Estey and his wife, Karen Emery-Estey, are direct descendants of two sisters who were hanged during the trials.
“David Estey — Abstraction” will be on display until March 17. The White Gallery, which is dedicated to exhibiting works by Maine artists in all media, is located on the ground floor of Peabody Hall on the Husson campus in Bangor. The gallery hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.