Bruce North: Pause for a Moment

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A selection of 35 watercolor landscapes and figurative genre scenes by New York born artist Bruce North will be exhibited at the James Cox Gallery at Woodstock.  Pause for a Moment will open Friday, January 11th with a reception from 6-8pm.  The exhibit will be on view through February 28th.

This will be North’s third exhibit with the James Cox Gallery following the widely acclaimed Other Voices in 1992 and Northeast by North in 2005.  Pause for a Moment offers a closer look at the figure in the delicate watercolors for which North is known so well.

Amidst the commotion of daily life Bruce North captures instants that often pass by unnoticed.  His figures – the laborers, hunters, fisherman and ­idlers – are frozen in moments of anticipation, tension or meditative pause. In the tradition of Impressionism, North harnesses the fleeting.  Light flits across his compositions in glimmering water and rustling leaves; thin veils of color evoke the atmospheric condition of changing skies.  His watercolors are at once masterfully executed, stunning landscapes and thoughtfully developed, intimate social scenes.

The influence of late 19th century French, English and American landscape painting, for which North has such an affinity, can be seen throughout his work. North’s control of the medium and delicacy of touch is reminiscent of the great English watercolorist Richard Parkes Bonington.  The American subjects of Winslow Homer are all comtemporized by North’s facile hand.  Outdoorsman, fisherman, young men “tubing” the rapids and upstate hunters seem universal but are distinctly “of our time.”

The painter’s connection to Impressionism is evident in his handling process, dazzling use of light and desire to capture a moment in time.  His use of light in Ice Fisherman exemplifies this tradition, where the lake of snow and ice takes on pink and violet hues perceived by the eye.  A direct nod to the subjects of Gustav Courbet and Camille Pissaro, North paints men and women in the hustle and bustle of farming, gardening, harvesting or at noontime rest. An avid sportsman himself, North’s paintings often depict hunters and fisherman in the silence of wait, as in Listening for the Gobble or the height of action as in his July Pond.  North not only focuses on subjects at work but in the vein of Edouard Manet and Auguste Renoir, he also captures scenes of outdoor leisure.  Beach Group focuses on Coney Island beach-goers gathered on a hazy day huddled together with folding chairs and umbrellas.

Ranging from the crisp, quiet woods of the Adirondacks, to the hot gritty boardwalk at Coney Island to the echoing, colonial streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, North’s subject knows no bounds.  The activity and emotion of the human condition he evokes in his work is universally relatable.  The action and anticipation in Southside Tubing is palpable. It depicts a group of young people playing in a waterfall as an airborne boy in an inner tube is just about to land in the water.  The same level of energy and activity is conveyed in Tent Chaos, with circus workers hoisting a massive tent.  However, here North distills the commotion to focus on the determination and strength of the pot-bellied man in the foreground. In the midst of the business of his subjects North pauses to capture the emotion and truth of the moment.

North has exhibited at FAR and The Grand Central Galleries in New York; The Brooklyn Museum; The Canajoharie Museum; Doll and Richards, Boston, MA; The National Arts Club and National Academy of Design. Publications featuring North’s work include American Artist Magazine and Grays Sporting Journal.

While living in Brooklyn, he shared studio space and was friends with a small group of New York Realists including Aaron Shickler, David Levine, Burt Silverman and Thomas Buechner. At the same time North began a distinguished career as an instructor. He served as acting director of the Brooklyn Museum Art School, where he also taught drawing and painting. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, North holds an MFA degree from Vermont College and has served on the faculty Ithaca College, as well as several universities and art associations. – Bryana Devine for the James Cox Gallery



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