“Great beauty, whether in a woman, or a landscape, or a painting, has an element of mystery. Feeding that mystery is part of maintaining that physical beauty or thought process.” – Douglas Gimbel
An artist, sculptor, actor, singer-songwriter and storyteller. Doug Gimbel’s fascination with the mysteries of spirituality, human nature, the human form, the passage of time … these have fueled a lifelong exploration.
He has a particular fondness for fire and has used it for the element’s ability to purify, to destroy, transform. It’s always a trip to see new work by this multi-gifted man, and longtime friend, to discover how his work will spark our imaginations this time.
On Aug. 2 , Doug unveiled his new series of paintings, “Stories From the Fish House” at Ae Home in Boothbay Harbor, also the venue for his 2015 show here in the Harbor. He was so driven and absorbed by this series that, when it was time to bring the finished work to the venue, Doug was wishing he had more time. There was more he wanted to do … so, like many others, I’m sure, I encouraged him to keep painting.
And he did. Artists have to paint, right? On Sept. 6, “More Stories From the Fish House” brought three additions to the series – two paintings and a new carved white pine buoy. All of the paintings in this series are acrylic on canvas, some as large as 3” x 4’ … like “Water Maiden” and “Incident at Owl Creek” – and, yes, I realize the latter sold at the opening reception Aug, 2, but … it is such an incredible piece of work I have to talk about it. Briefly. Honest.
The scene occurs on the night of a full moon … a mermaid/goddess has just risen up from the water – it still drips from her arms – the water still in motion, the rings made by her movement continue expanding outward … The use of various shades of blue, sometimes shadowed by black, heightens the allure, the calling of the moon to the mermaid witch emerging from the water. You got the feeling looking at it that whatever happened next would be quite mind-blowing … (that’s not to say that seeing a merwitch rising from Wild Cat Creek (yeah, you all know where that is) isn’t mindblowing enough … for me the mystery laced throughout this piece was only bound by the magic that conjured it.
OK. Enough about that painting.
“Buoy #1 (mermaid lure)” is among the stories on exhibit. First off, I love the blues in this 30” x 40” painting, and the movement of the water it represents, spiraling out (perhaps from a vortex!) from this handsome lure … the brush strokes and application of paint create additional energy that might very well exceed the borders of the canvas at any moment, and yet, with all this mounting tension, the lure is quite calm, meditative almost, sending out wave lengths (visible by the purplish lines moving outward from his face) sure his maid will come in.
And I do.
Another piece I feel compelled to write about is “Blue Book on Boat” – a 40” X 30” trip inside the cabin of, well, a boat (insert sheepish grin here). Several windows let in the sea outside and the dazzlingly reflective sunlight on the beach sand. The large nude is in repose, a book held in her left hand. What’s so interesting to me about this painting is the woman and a breast releasing a stream of fluid … To me the painting is about change. Self-nurturing. Livin’, or at the very least, travelin’ large!
Listen, I could go on and on about Doug’s art. It is, and always has been, distinctive. When he’s working on a skeletal series – like the one he did in March this year; unfortunately the show was in New Orleans – the self-storytelling goes on and on … the story is in the eye of imagination and Douglas Gimbel always gives viewers plenty to work with.
What’s key is that you’ve got to see his art in person, not just photos of it – like you’ll see with this column.
To experience “More Stories From the Fish House” fully, you’ll need to get to the exhibit, hanging through Sept. 30 at Alison Evans’ Ae Home, 93 Townsend Ave., Boothbay Harbor.