September-October 2010 | EXHIBITING EXCELLENCE

Artist Kevin Fitzgerald and The Water's Edge Gallery owner Gail Lewis
Artist Kevin Fitzgerald and The Water’s Edge Gallery owner Gail Lewis

ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING

EXHIBITING EXCELLENCE

Artist-in-residence Kevin Fitzgerald comes to The Water’s Edge Gallery to enhance the Eastern Shore’s artistic inspiration and development

Written By: | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

Since Gail Lewis opened the doors of The Water’s Edge Gallery in 2007, she’s been making a singular impact on the community. Not all that surprising, considering the decades of success she’s known during her storied career as an entrepreneur. And though she’s already entrenched herself as the most prolific exhibitor of local art and artists in the entire region, July marked the beginning of a collaboration that is certain to set a new high-water mark at The Water’s Edge Gallery.

In a move that is certain to galvanize the reputation of the Eastern Shore as an artistic enclave, nationally recognized landscape painter Kevin Fitzgerald has joined The Water’s Edge Gallery as its artist-in-residence. Exhibiting his work through the end of the year, Fitzgerald will have lectures, hold seminars, conduct multi-day workshops and invite guest artists as part of his residency at Berlin’s historic Odd Fellows Building on Main Street.

It is profoundly easy to imagine Fitzgerald in a field with his canvas and brush, standing in some floppy straw hat alongside Monet and Renoir as they discuss society’s misfortunes and the perceptions of art critics. He has that sensibility about him. It is appropriate, too, since the painter freely admits that his work is influenced by masters from the 15th to the 20th centuries, but that it’s the Great Impressionists with whom he identifies with the most. Ultimately, however, Fitzgerald is an entity unto himself, cutting his own unique swath in the fabric of the American landscape.

That he has been known to paint with both hands is somewhat poetic, since his approach
to a canvas is not unlike a composer conducting his music before a symphony. He is skillful, like a musician, at capturing and presenting a mood, though in his case the setting is nature, not notes.

Yet don’t be surprised if notes are among what you perceive as you absorb Fitzgerald’s work. The effect is one that springs from a real-life, real-time platform yet catalyzes the imagination in a way that arouses the mind, heart and soul simultaneously – creating what may be best described as an aesthetic-emotional bond between the work and its viewer. That quality is likely a central reason why Fitzgerald’s work is on display at galleries that span the four corners of the contiguous United States and why celebrities such as actor Kelsey Grammer and fitness-icon Denise Austin are both collectors of his work.

“I try not to be overly literal with what I paint,” said Fitzgerald, who holds a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA under full fellowship from George Washington University. “I simply attempt to capture an essential moment of truth at a key moment in time, then imbue it with an aesthetic dimension that is designed to
resonate on a deeper, more personal level. I feel that too much factuality in painting has the effect of attenuating the lifespan of its value.”

To achieve these fluidly gossamer effects, Fitzgerald alternates his canvases between the superior texture and stronger fiber of Belgian linen and the greater surface consistency of cotton duck. On these he applies a base coat of either acrylic gesso or rabbit-skin glue, which was in use going back to the Renaissance and which the seasoned painter and teacher for over 30 years said actually absorbs fibers even better than acrylic.

“I’ve always wanted to evolve The Water’s Edge into a teaching institution, a place where people can come not just to see great art but also learn how to make great art,” Lewis said. “And I think that Kevin can be a major force in making that happen.”

But there is no force in the area greater than Lewis herself when it comes to the promotion of the local art scene. In the nearly four years since she opened, Lewis has showcased the works of artists such as Bill and Deborah Rolig, Patrick Henry, Pete Cosby, Parker Nichols, Randy Hoffman, Charlene Abele, Peggy Warfield and so many others. Her exhibition frequency averages about one artist for every month of operation – a pace that even huge urban galleries can only aspire to.


The Water’s Edge Gallery, 410-629-1784



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