Christine Macchi, executive director of Maine Fiberarts in Topsham, provided the following information about a new show opening at the Maine Fiberarts Gallery:
Bold and painterly quilted wall assemblages by artists Dr. Donald Talbot of Lisbon Falls and Beatrice Gilbert of North Yarmouth are on display through Tuesday, Dec. 31, at Maine Fiberarts’ Gallery, 13 Main St., Topsham.
The exhibition, “Quilted Assemblages: Beatrice Gilbert & Dr. Donald Talbot,” represents new work by the artists.
A Holiday Open House and Sale of members’ work will take place 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6; and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, when Beatrice Gilbert will demonstrate quilting 10 a.m.-noon Friday. The public is invited to attend.
Talbot’s new body of work, “Based on Beverly: A Post-mortem Creative Collaboration,” was created while on sabbatical leave from Mount Aloysius College, Cresson, Pa., where he has served as Visual Arts Program coordinator and associate professor of English and fine arts since 2004. His sources of inspiration for his new work were the journals and sketchbooks of his good friend and teacher, the late Beverly J. Semmens, professor emeritus, University of Cincinnati, who died in 2010. Talbot met Semmens when he was accepted as a graduate student in her fibers program at the University of Cincinnati in 1997 and credits her as being one of the most influential mentors of his life.
Before her death in 2010, Semmens entrusted Talbot with a truly unique gift: her journals and sketchbooks dating back to 1954 — almost 60 years of her creative explorations and personal life preserved in words and sketches. Like Talbot, Semmens had degrees in English and in fine art and was passionate about both. Her journals and sketchbooks reveal a complex and multi-talented woman who was very much of her time while, in many ways, being very much ahead of it.
During the summer of 2011, Talbot started studying Semmens’ more than half-century of thumbnail sketches. Like most artists, Semmens sketched more ideas than she actually executed in finished projects. Some art pieces were started and abandoned. Others were never attempted. A few were taken to completion. Talbot began to wonder what it would be like to use Semmens’ sketches as the starting point for his own creative work.
Talbot’s new body of work has been a true collaborative effort. His goal was to reinterpret Semmens’ ideas — to use them as starting points for his own new work — not to slavishly replicate her ideas or sketches. Consequently, Talbot learned about how Semmens thought and how she evolved as an artist by using her ideas to inform his work. In particular, Talbot learned about Semmens’ sophisticated use of quiet symmetry, her rhythmical repetition of shapes and motifs, and her balanced interplay of geometric and organic shapes.
According to fiber artist Beatrice Gilbert, her artwork has always been a reflection of a deep response to color. Gilbert uses unexpected layers and vibrant color to engage the viewer. For Gilbert, color is content. Simple in form, Gilbert’s work focuses on the drama that can come from playing with value, color and contrast.
Gilbert’s home in North Yarmouth continues to provide a grounding that is essential and inspiring to her for blending art and life. The country setting and her earth-bound interests in family, gardening, raising sheep and spinning wool provide an environment that inspires graceful simplicity in artwork. In addition to creating silk-stitched wall hangings, Gilbert also works in ceramics and in fiber, specializing in the use of luxury fibers, such as silk, alpaca, yak and camel.
Gilbert notes that her artistic goal is “…to create beautiful pieces that enrich everyday life — to be lived with, not just looked at.” Since 1996, Gilbert’s art has been featured in more than 60 galleries and shows nationwide.
Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. For information, visit mainefiberarts.org or call 721-0678.