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Josephine Bloodgood at the Woodstock Artists Association

"Distant Moon III" 2002, oil on canvas 66" x 66"

April 2003

SIX LARGE-SCALE oils and six watercolors (more modest in size) comprise this exhibit,* the first solo show for Josephine Bloodgood at this venue since she began showing her work in 1988. Though the watercolors nicely balance the oils in number, both their medium and their size tend to be overshadowed by their grandly-conceived neighbors — and this is somewhat of a shame since they are little gems. It is rare to find artists who are competent in both mediums, most choosing early in their careers to settle on developing their skills in a favored medium, but Bloodgood manages both with considerable flair. All — as the title of the show suggests — are of night skies, moon and clouds the ostensible subject of each. Whoever they were meant for, it is clear to this viewer, however, that none of these lushly conceived moonscapes can be remotely labeled "misbegotten." As fine as are the watercolors — I’d like to see a show where they are not in competition — it is obvious that Bloodgood fairly revels in the manipulation of oils. All fine artists are aware as to just how difficult it is to consistently fill a large canvas — and Bloodgood’s oils are ambitious indeed — with enough visual stimulation to entice a viewer’s eyes to explore (with pleasure) all of its surface. Most offer a definitive focal point with much of the area "filled in" with less interesting detail.

"Expanse" 2002, oil on canvas 42" x 54"

Not so Bloodgood’s "Moons for the Misbegotten." The moon, in fact, takes up very little area in most of these paintings, the surrounding clouds and sky by far making up most of subject matter contained therein — and herein, perhaps, lies part of the secret to their success. Clouds and sky are essentially "no-things," their very insubstantiality always difficult for the eye to fasten on — thus, with little or no focal point available for the artist to embellish, she is free to lavish her attention globally. I have noted that Bloodgood’s subject is ostensibly the sky, the moon, and the clouds. It appears to this viewer that these subjects serve more properly as the vehicle for her interplay of light and color — her actual subject — and her translation of them into the malleable properties of oil paint. Her intent seems to be to offer a mood rather than a "picture" of a night sky — or at any rate that is what I came away with. This is not to say that her depictions lack verisimilitude — they most certainly do, though, at times, her use of color appears more romantic than realistic — but then, how else to evoke that mood? This is painting at its best and I urge you to take the time to go and see this show. Whether or not you’ll come away feeling "misbegotten," you’ll certainly find your senses pleasurably charmed by the double impact of Bloodgood’s sensitivity to nature and her skill with the brush.

*"Josephine Bloodgood: Moons for the Misbegotten" (Mar 15-Apr 7): Woodstock Artists Association, 28 Tinker St., Woodstock, NY (845) 6792940.

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