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George Wingate viewing “Candara” at the show in Providence (photo by Robert Hanlon)

George Wingate, artist and life long friend made a trip down from Wenham to see the show at Rhode Island College, “Acquire/Inquire.” He sent me the photograph above with these simple words:

standing before the moon.

Oh that I could evoke that haunting landscape, that I might capture some of that earthiness that is not Earth, that landscape that does not carry a drop of our DNA in its dust.

The show comes down today. This was an important exhibit for me, the first public showing of a very new and different body of work. Thank you to the wizardry and resourcefulness of curator James Montford, the accompaniment of three extraordinary women—Marcia Goodwin, Doris Weiner and Denyse Wilhelm—and the universally welcoming faculty and staff at Rhode Island College.

Here are highlights from three reviews of the show:

Barlow’s paintings are sensual…she paints handsome, crusty, glistening abstractions like Golasule, which resembles frosty white-blue ice. Others look like lichen or, in the case of Gola, a turquoise and milky white tropical tide pool.
Greg Cook
The Boston Phoenix

The paintings of Deborah Barlow are ethereal and light, mixing multiple forms of paint and technique. While the other artists focused on a search and discovery form of style, Barlow is more scientific and alchemic.
Kyle Grant
The Anchor

Deborah Barlow is represented by a series of lushly luminous abstractions that look a bit like Minimalist cloudscapes. (Look long enough and you may feel like you’re floating inside the world’s most tasteful lava lamp.)
Bill Van Siclen
The Providence Journal

I am always grateful for fresh words that help describe a new body of work. “Standing before the moon” feels good, as do a few other words that came from these writers—“handsome,” “crusty,” “glistening,” “scientific,” “alchemic.” Even the lava lamp reference is growing on me after my very with it daughter gave it a thumbs up.

One wall of the “Acquire/Inquire” installation

To see more images from the show, click here.

Gola, mixed media on canvas, 48 x 54″, included in the show, “Acquire/Inquire” at Rhode Island College, March 2012

I will be showing my latest body of work at an upcoming exhibition at Rhode Island College next month. I am looking forward to seeing these pieces outside of my studio and all the visual clutter that comes with it. The shift in seeing can sometimes be surprisingly revelatory. I hope it helps me deepen my understanding of the new territory I am exploring.

That’s the show part of the heading. The sojourn part starts tonight when I head to England. I’ll spend time in the Lakes as well as in London.

I am still perplexed by how deeply I am affected by a change in venue, something that works on others just as powerfully as it does on me. In a recent interview with the writer John Logan (his play, Red, is reviewed here), he describes how he travels to Death Valley every year by himself, going at the height of the summer so he can “scorch everything away. It cleanses the palate of my imagination. Writing is a hard job and it takes a lot out of you, so you need to take the time to replenish it.’’

England is no Death Valley. But the verdant green and the abundance of ancient sites (Britain has more than 1000 stone circles alone) seep in me and do some quiet rewiring of my insides. It is one of my ways of cleansing the palate of imagination. The desert can bring a powerful reset as well, but it works on me in a very different manner. I long for regular exposure to both.

I will be back to Slow Muse on February 22.

Show info:

March 1- 29, 2012
Artist reception: March 1, 5-8pm

Bannister Gallery
Rhode Island College
600 Mt Pleasant Ave
Providence, RI 02908


To inquire—to engage in the intentional act of discovery—is the vital cord that connects the work of Deborah Barlow, Marcia Goodwin, Doris Weiner, and Denyse Wilhelm.

The objects, books, and memories they have acquired are the results of lives lived in purposeful inquiry, provoking and sustaining their work. Walk into any one of their studios and see possessions that are intensely personal: a Chinese wedding basket, peridot tinted vintage glass, Javanese puppets, or shards of pottery. In the work of these four artists, elements of nature, culture, mysticism, choreography, and music are transformed into visual ideographs that are dimensional, vibrant, ambient, and atmospheric.

This exhibition is curated by James Montford, director of Bannister Gallery.