The Frederick Gunn School is pleased to present a special exhibit, “Waterfronts and Woodcuts,” featuring more than 30 woodcuts, blocks, drawings, and drypoint etchings by Don Gorvett, a Boston-born artist acclaimed for his hand-pulled color reduction woodcuts recording maritime subjects. The exhibit will run from October 2 through November 10 in the Perakos Family Cares Art Gallery of the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center. An Artist Reception will be held October 19 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The reception is open to the public.
The Perakos Family Cares Art Gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is available in the Upper Parking Lot off Kirby Road, with a limited number of accessible parking spaces outside the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center.
"Waterfronts and Woodcuts" was organized by Lincoln Turner, the school's new Gallerist, an accomplished photographer, and a member of the Visual Arts faculty. Turner first encountered Gorvett's work in February 2020 on a weekend trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that coincided with an opening at Gorvett’s eponymous gallery. TPACC and the Perakos Family Cares Art Gallery had opened just a month earlier, and Turner was already thinking of ways to bring local and regional artists to the school to display their work. He was immediately taken with Gorvett’s woodcuts, which primarily depict maritime scenes in New Hampshire, Southern Maine, and Gloucester, Massachusetts, where his studio is located.
“They’re beautiful,” Turner said, explaining the complex process involved in making reductive woodcuts. It begins with a drawing that is transferred to a piece of wood as a reverse image. Numerous colors are added to create the finished work, which is all made from one plate. “It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around how that works, but it’s pretty cool.”
Born in Boston in 1949 and raised in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts, Gorvett spent much of his youth at the seashore, swimming, fishing, and observing the fishing-town industry. His family eventually moved to Burlington, Massachusetts, where high school art instructor Elinor Marvin discovered his talents. Marvin privately tutored Gorvett, and he received an extraordinary art education focused on drawing, graphic arts, and theatrical set design.
Gorvett was awarded a Junior Ford Fellowship through the School at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, and graduated in 1972. The summer before starting his studies a the museum school, he rented a cabin to concentrate on painting with the support and encouragement of Annabelle Lewis of Westport, Connecticut, and Ogunquit, Maine, and his teacher and mentor, Marvin.
After graduation, Gorvett moved his primary residence to Gloucester to continue to develop his work. His work gravitated to the large color reduction woodcut and away from painting. During his earlier years in Gloucester, Gorvett was an "artist in residence" at Stillington Hall, a Jacobean-style estate belonging to Leslie and Mary Buswell and later to their son, Peter Buswell. Mary Buswell offered well-furnished dressing rooms in the estate's theater for Gorvett to live. He set up his first etching press on the stage above his rooms and began a series of large-scale reduction woodcuts. At this time, Gorvett also created a series of drypoint etchings recording the Gloucester waterfront. During his residence at Stillington Hall, he also organized and promoted public classical music concerts and private wedding events.
Today, Gorvett's studio is at the historic Beacon Marine Basin, overlooking Gloucester Harbor. The working marina is the last of its kind and offers him a large space in which to work, exhibit woodcuts, and offer instruction and presstime. Yet most importantly, the harbor and surrounding area offer abundant subject matter.
"In art, my idea is not to illustrate what I see; instead, I seek to disassemble what is before me, rearranging and interpreting my subject. In my recent work, picture-making is of little interest to me. It is not my goal to remind people of what they already know. But rather to inform the viewer of a way of seeing that they are unaccustomed to and to show them a world in a new personal light. The viewing experience should be more than one of confirmation but one of experience of discovery," Gorvett said.
The Don Gorvett Gallery in downtown Portsmouth is celebrating 17 years of exhibiting and selling his work and that of other artists. Gorvett's woodcuts are in the permanent collections at public and private institutions such as the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; Boston Athenaeum, Boston, Massachusetts; Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire; Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockport, Maine; the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University, England; Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Museum of Fine Art, Boston; Museum of Fine Art, Hanoi, Vietnam; National Geographic Library, Washington, D.C.; Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Ogunquit, Maine; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts; Portsmouth Historical Society, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts; and Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts.
"One can only marvel at the delicate artistry, disciplined craftsmanship, and sheer physicality inherent in the beautiful reduction woodcuts of artist Don Gorvett," said Dr. Michael Culver, an independent curator. "Possessing a draftsman's sensibilities for the beauty of the drawn line - thick to thin, straight and curving, bold and subtle - the printmaker fashions compositions rich with movement and texture. With a painter's eye for color, Gorvett produces prints with elegant and evocative tonal harmonies not usually associated with woodcuts. And, with a sculptor's sense of light, he creates a dramatic contrast between color and carved hard edge, giving great solidity to both form and space. What emerges are masterful woodcuts containing images of such power and grace that they place Gorvett among today's most accomplished regional printmakers."
For questions about the Perakos Family Cares Art Gallery, or to express interest in exhibiting work, please email email@example.com.