“Harmony” is a one-artist exhibition featuring works by Newtown resident Susan McLaughlin that opened on June 9. It is on view weekdays through July 6. ...Read Full Article
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A Newtown resident will be the next artist to have works featured in an exhibition at The Gallery at Newtown Municipal Center.
Recent works by Susan McLaughlin Rosen will be presented June 9 through July 8 in an exhibition called “Harmony.” The show will offer 20 medium to large-size paintings done in acrylic paints on linen canvases. Some of the works incorporate elements of mixed media.
An opening reception, featuring light bites with wine and soft drinks, will take place from 2 to 5 pm on Saturday, June 9. Guests will have the opportunity to meet the artist, who paints professionally as Susan McLaughlin, and discuss the work on exhibit with her. The public is invited to attend.
The gallery is along the main corridor of the municipal center, 3 Primrose Street (within Fairfield Hills). The exhibit will be open during the normal business hours of the municipal center: weekdays from 8 am until 4:30 pm.
All of the paintings depict aspects of the central theme, harmony between humanity and nature, that informs Ms McLaughlin’s work. As a narrative painter, Ms McLaughlin is an explorer, uncovering, recording, and rearranging the beauty of the natural world as well as the beauty of human beings.
A romantic at heart and surrealist of hand, she combines elements of reality and fantasy in ways that shed a new light on the interrelationships between humans and the natural world. Sometimes, the division is clear; on other occasions, the two worlds melt into one. This symbiosis makes the finished work even more compelling than either of its constituents alone.
When Ms McLaughlin moved to Newtown 18 years ago, she took a year off from painting in order to study horticulture. During that time, she become a Certified Master Gardener through the University of Connecticut Extension Program.
She was sorry that she lost a year of painting in order to learn how to tend the gardens surrounding her new home. When she resumed painting, however, she was delighted to discover a striking kinship between the two activities. She found that gardening and painting are really similar pursuits and that the mastering of one enhances the other.
Her newfound botanical knowledge gave her painting a focus and a theme. Ms McLaughlin realized that in both gardening and painting, she needed to consider color, composition, texture, movement, and layers. She ultimately settled into a life of gardening in the morning and painting in the afternoon.
Since then, Ms McLaughlin has striven to create new worlds on canvas. Professor John Torreano, the former head of the Studio Art Program at New York University, from which Ms McLaughlin received a graduate degree in Studio Art, wrote of Ms McLaughlin’s work in the forward to her book, Depingo Ergo Sum:
“For me, what makes her work most intriguing are the finely detailed images of animals like the butterflies, ladybugs, spiders, frogs, monkeys, and others, that appear throughout her work. She employs a ‘microscopic’ approach to detail that provides subtle clues and playful suggestions about her subjects that function as quasi-disguised symbolisms. Indeed, the more bizarre her associational connections are, as in her paintings “Alice’s Aura” or “Catcher,” the better. Her work explores the natural world in an effort to create a more perfect alternative, a world consisting of her personal vocabulary of meanings. In an absurd world, her attack on life and art is very much in the existentialist tradition of John-Paul Sartre.”
Both of the works mentioned by Professor Torreano will be included in the Municipal Gallery exhibition.
Ms McLaughlin created many of the paintings that will be in the upcoming show in her studio overlooking Taunton Lake and her lakeside gardens in Newtown.
In addition to her paintings, Ms McLaughlin will have on display her Master Gardner thesis, “Portraits of Trees, Shrubs and Vines,” an illustrated album that includes numerous specimens gathered in Newtown. She will also be showing drawings and musings from her gardener’s day journal, in which she has recorded the many sights she discovered while sifting through the layers of rocks, silt, and soil while planting.
She feels that digging through the Connecticut earth led her to her most recent paintings, which are extremely complex and involve multiple layers of paint, realistic images and the more abstract, serendipitous images formed or suggested by the action of the paint itself.
What makes a painting potent for her, she says, is “when there are layers of reality and fantasy, and the line is totally blurred. That is when I know I have created a new world.”
This will be Ms McLaughlin’s first show at The Gallery at Newtown Municipal Center. It follows exhibitions earlier this year at Art Basel Miami and ArtExpo New York.
She has shown her work in major museums and galleries in New York City and up and down the East Coast, including Arnot Art Museum in New York, Monmouth Museum in New Jersey, and NSA Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art and Bonnet House Museum, both in Florida.
She has received the Best in Show award at Broward Art Guild in Fort Lauderdale, and a judges’ award from The Society of Creative Arts of Newtown.
Ms McLaughlin was born in Manhattan, and she painted and lived there for much of her life. She earned a BFA degree from Parsons School of Design and an MA in Studio Art from New York University. Prior to becoming a full-time painter, she worked as an illustrator and was a bylined editorial artist for The New York Law Journal and other New York City publications.
She has lived in Newtown since 2000.