In a stunning exhibition, James Barron Art presents the work of Jeanette Montgomery Barron and Laura de Santillana.
In his new space at 17 Old Barn Road in Kent, James Barron is once again mounting shows that are unique, unexpected, and exciting. On September 8th the gallery will open “Mirrors and Glass,” a dual exhibit featuring the works of Jeanette Montgomery Barron and Laura de Santillana. Both women work in different mediums and their work has never been shown together. In fact, until the idea for the show began to germinate, they had never met.
“Jeanette has been photographing mirrors since 1990 and Laura de Santillana had her first exhibition of her glass sculptures in 1979. She is the third generation of glassblowers in her family” says James Barron. “But they did not know each other. They were born one year apart, Jeanette in Atlanta, Georgia, and Laura in Venice, Italy. So when we were last in Rome I arranged for us all to have coffee. It felt as if I had set up the perfect blind date. Both women have a sense of calm and a similar sense of peace. I started playing in my head with combinations of their images and I saw so many parallels. I knew I had to mount a show of the two artists together.”
“The first mirrors were shot in black and white,” Montgomery Barron explains. “Then in 2003 I began to shoot some in color. Laura lives in Venice in the Giudecca and travels every morning to Murano where her family’s glass factory is located. She leaves before sunrise and see this horizon with the light coming up. She is inspired by the atmospheric haze of color over the water.”
Both artists follow a path of minimal aesthetic and an exploration of color through repetition of from. “My work is about refracted light, low water and the horizon line. There is a very old technique, incalmo, which is the joining of two pieces. When you have incalmo on a round form, you don’t see much. When you bring together two walls, then you get things happening. You get an ellipse, or it doubles up, or the rim is folded inside and you get double color. All these things you only see because you are bringing the two walls together.”
Both women present work that is about stillness and meditation. The difference, in most cases, is that de Santillana is looking at light reflecting on water and Montgomery Barron is photographing in her studio. But the pieces are eerily similar in their affect on the viewer. And while they both work with glass in different forms, the use of color is inherent in their work.
Viewing the two artists’ work side by side the similarities are remarkable and the emotional aspects of working with color define both the similarities and the striking differences. Montgomery Barron’s red mirrors, for instance, were the result of a rainy day.
“I started reading about the meaning and connotations of red: it’s power; there is a force to red. I thought, ‘I’ve got to play around with this color.’ I’ve never really photographed with strong colors. Then the orange one came about, and other kind of electric colors. Some of the red mirrors came out of mistakes. I did a double exposure by mistake, and it led into a whole new series.”
In de Santillana’s case, two colors sometimes make the difference.
“When I work with two colors, one is always harder. The harder color pulls, and then you get the softer one, which makes the line.”
“Mirrors and Glass” is an exciting and original look at two talented artists, their approach to color, light, space, and perhaps to art and life itself. And once again James Barron has presented a stunning and unique show.