Nora Byrne
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Words

Arts, Arabic, Adventures

The Ties that Bike

Lately I've been working with a lovely artist and UNH Art Department veteran Lou Kohl Morgan, to prepare for her show at the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit. I met her through a drawing group, so an opportunity to see finished work was too good to miss. I headed down to the home of the Ogunquit Art Association last weekend. One quick side note: Ogunquit in the summer is beautiful, if crowded. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art is just around the corner from the Barn, and boasts great shows and a solid collection, especially if you're looking for Maine artists. If you can get through the main drag without hitting pedestrians (or if you're okay with hitting pedestrians) the drive is absolutely beautiful.

Dream Image by Lou Kohl Morgan. Pastel on Paper.

Morgan's show is mostly figurative; a charming set of calm and illusory pastels loosely grounded by a couple oil seascapes. She included a few drawings and I ended up seeing more of myself on the walls than expected. She shares the gallery space with Dustan Knight, who's oddly opaque watercolors occupy a similar realm between reality and the ephemeral. Gessoing landscapes onto wood panels, Knight develops compelling depth while maintaining the paint's atmospheric quality

On the other side of the building the gallery displays works from the Ogunquit Art Association. Apparently most of the artists I work for are members, for I saw a host of familiar names and a few more pieces of me. An artist I've worked with for years, Charles Cramer, showed a few of his delicate yet assertive drawings, but I had to check twice before being sure that a few bold illustrative prints were his. Once again I was amazed by the versatility of an artist I thought I knew.

The prints in question are a series of people and bikes, showing only wheels, handlebars, legs and arms. Simple forms meet bold outlines, and the content is a suiting tribute to the commonplace. Select details hint at an artist in a constant state of close observation, finding these charming moments in routine. My personal favorite showed a bike wheel and a woman's legs, skirt knotted between the knees. There is something superfluous yet sensible about the small print, echoed in the practicality of altering such an impractical garment choice.

Today, when I tied my floor-length dress up to my knees, I mused on the ways artists I work with influence my daily life. I've stopped letting my bike commutes stop me from wearing skirts, and think of that print every time I hop on. Trying to emulate a specific artist is nothing new, but usually reserved for the model stand. I haven't thought much about how I internalize contemporary figure work. This skirt is an example bordering on trivial, but I'm sure I could find other manifestations of my own relationship to figure work, perhaps with more significance. If the reciprocity in the artist/model relationship isn't entirely limited to the session, I'm curious what the limits are.