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A Solitude of Space: The Paintings of Thomas Crotty


A Solitude of Space: The Paintings of Thomas Crotty, a retrospective featuring the work of accomplished and widely collected landscape painter Thomas Crotty, will be on view at the Portland Museum of Art from September 25, 2003 through January 4, 2004. This major exhibition, which will feature more than 60 of the artist's most significant oils, acrylics, and watercolors from the 1960s to the present, celebrates Crotty's artistic achievements and reflects upon the unique qualities of the Maine landscape. (right: Thomas Crotty (United States, born 1934), Indian Point­March , circa 1992, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches. Private Collection. Photo courtesy of Frost Gully Gallery, Freeport, Maine)

Thomas Crotty, a native of Boston, relocated to Maine permanently after being drawn to its rugged coastline and undeveloped woodlands and fields. Although he primarily paints locales near his residence in Freeport, his realistic works capture the essence of the Maine coast from Cape Elizabeth to Stonington. Known for his careful and tireless observation of nature, Crotty manipulates and interprets Maine's natural light and poetic beauty at all times of day and during different seasons. His meticulous technique and keen sense of composition place his work within Maine's distinctive artistic heritage.

"The art of Thomas Crotty demonstrates with extraordinary grace the powerful tradition of American landscape painting that is still alive and innovative," said Museum Director and exhibition curator Daniel E. O'Leary. (right: Thomas Crotty (United States, born 1934), Drift in Beach IV, circa 1996, oil on canvas, 28 x 72 inches, Collection of Pierce Atwood. Photo courtesy of Frost Gully Gallery, Freeport, Maine)

Crotty, who was born in Boston in 1934 and attended the Massachusetts College of Art, moved to Maine in 1964, where he began to focus on his own art. From the start of his career, his work gained a significant national following among private and corporate collectors. Since 1969, his work has been featured in several solo exhibitions in Maine art institutions including the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Bates College Museum of Art, the Van Vechten Gallery of Fine Arts at Fisk University, and Maine Coast Artists (now the Center for Maine Contemporary Art), among others.

The exhibition, which is curated by Director Daniel E. O'Leary and Lorena A. Coffin, is accompanied by a 120-page full-color catalogue published by Down East Books. The catalogue, available in the Museum Shop for $40, features an essay by art historian Francine Koslow Miller that explores Crotty's approach to painting. (right: Thomas Crotty (United States, born 1934), Pleasant Hill Road, circa 1989, oil on canvas, 30 x 60 inches, Collection of Mr. & Mrs. John B. MacDonald. Photo courtesy of Frost Gully Gallery, Freeport, Maine)

Following is selected wall text from the exhibition:

The paintings of Thomas Crotty (born 1934) portray an elegant and defined universe, the center of which stretches from Freeport to Stonington along the midcoast of Maine.

For more than four decades, the artist's disciplined and luminous paintings have surveyed this exclusive realm, demonstrating an extraordinary sensitivity towards space, texture, the mutability of water, and the vitality of light.

Each of Crotty's paintings invites the viewer to engage fully in the contemplation of a unique place, during a specific season, at a particular moment. Many images record the elusive character of evening, or the fragile light of early morning, often in the firm grip of Maine winter.

Collectively, the works in this exhibition underscore the strength of Maine's natural beauty as subject and inspiration for the continually evolving tradition of American landscape painting.

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