In honor of the sixth annual February "Longfellow Days," Evelyn Dunphy's exhibit "An Artist's Sense of Place" graces the walls of the Frontier Café. A series of watercolor paintings honoring this year's them of "Earth, Sea, and Sky" one would be hard pressed to find a better visual tribute to Longfellow's assertion that art is the "counterpart" of nature.
Katie McCormick, event-coordinator for Frontier Café defined the connection between Dunphy's work and Longfellow's credo as a mutual interest in "being nature."
Dunphy contributed to the most extensive conservation project in Maine's history, which saved Katahdin Lake and six thousand surrounding acres of land from development by incorporating the land into Baxter State Park. She received the Natural Resource Council of Maine's "People's Choice" award for her role in conservation as Baxter State Park's first "Resident Artist" in August 2009.
In terms of making art, Dunphy takes Longfellow's interest to heart, immersing herself in and reflecting on nature by working on site. Her passion for plein-air painting has taken Dunphy to the coasts of Monhegan Island and the shores of Millinocket Lake, where she has painted for many summers.
Viewing Dunphy's exhibition at Frontier Café is a lesson in innovative use of perspective, light and balance. Dunphy is drawn to the unique and unpredictable perspectives. For example, while working on a painting of Katahdin Mountain at Baxter State Park, Dunphy said that she would turn her back on the peak in order to paint captivating cloud formations.
The sense of light in her pieces has been especially praised. When Dunphy was awarded first prize in 2007 in the Art of the Maine State Parks and Baxter State Park contest for her piece "Evening at the Lake," jurors remarked on its light, simplicity, rhythm and depth.
Dunphy alludes to light in descriptions of her work. Of her painting "Winter Mist on Traveler" she writes, "there always seems to be a particularly beautiful light falling on Traveler [Mountain] and even though it's a long ways off, the brilliance of this light is powerful."
Her interest in light influences her painting "End of Day," in which she captured a scene on the shores of Baxter Lake while "night was very near but the peach glow still lingered in the sky."
The spirit of balance in Dunphy's work reveals itself in subtle details which incorporate mankind's direct relationship with nature. This connection is depicted through spots of leisure and other outdoor settings that emphasize the beauty in Maine woods, mountains and waterways.
Spending time with Dunphy's exhibit in the Frontier Café truly brings the principles of art in nature alive. Whether catching glimpses of the Androscoggin River from the windows of Fort Andross, or sensing the reflection of evening light from the frame of a watercolor, immersion and reflection exist on multiple levels at Evelyn Dunphy's inspiring show.
Evelyn Dunphy's exhibit, "An Artist's Sense of Place," runs through March 6 at Frontier Café in Fort Andross.