February 21, 2013

Artist explores the unexpected


---- — WESTPORT — “Water, Mountain, Sky,” a new series of acrylic paintings by Rebecca Pace, opens Friday at the Depot Theatre Gallery.

The show runs through Sunday, March 31, and features 12 works ranging in size from 10-by-12 inches and 3-by-4 feet.

“I’m interested as a painter in the quality of light and shadow and a sense of place,” said Pace, who is the director of the Peru Free Library.

“I think what my paintings are about is the anticipation of the unknown, the unexpected. What is on the other side of the pond? What is over that hill? Once that cloud moves, what’s behind it? There’s a mysterious quality.”

She has worked in pastel, watercolor and gouache, but her love is acrylics. Her palette is subtle yet dramatic. Her light-infused allegorical paintings capture the distilled beauty of remote North Country landscapes — winter mornings up in the high country; secluded marshes; and sunlit, windswept coastlines.

Pace’s references are not sketched studies or photographs.

“I just paint. I look. Sometimes, I pull over on the side of the road and watch the sky,” she said. “I’m constantly looking at the landscape. I look at art magazines and photographs; it’s all a filter. I’m a filter. I don’t look at something specifically and paint that thing. I think the landscapes are very remote, but my point of view is such that you, as a viewer, are present. The paintings draw you into the landscape.”

Her work is held in private collections in New Mexico and the North Country. Locally, her pieces have appeared at the Heritage House in Westport, the Adirondack Artists Association in Essex, the Peru Free Library and the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts in Plattsburgh.

Though the Adirondack Coast has been home the last 35 years, she grew up in the Uwharrie Mountains of North Carolina and summered in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

Her interest and respect for the natural world was inspired by her mother, a naturalist.

Pace holds a master’s degree in English Renaissance literature from Vermont College, but like six generations of women before her, she was an undergrad at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio.

“I began painting in college primarily to relieve the tedium of reading and writing papers (that are) demanded of an English major,” Pace said. “I ended up with a degree in art. I went on with my studies at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where I studied industrial design.”

Email Robin Caudell:

IF YOU GO WHAT: "Water, Mountain, Sky," a new series by artist Rebecca Pace. WHEN: Opening reception is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday. Exhibit runs through Sunday, March 31. WHERE: Depot Theatre Gallery (Westport train station), 6705 Main St., Westport. CONTACT: 962-8680