Greenhut Galleries in Portland has just opened a major solo show by Stonington painter Jon Imber. The show, “Jon Imber: Life at the Shore,” is accompanied by a catalogue with beautiful color plates and a well-drawn essay by Ken Greenleaf that deftly begins with this quote-
“When I was a kid in the late 20’s, there was this painter named
Marin who set up his easel on the same spot you’ve picked!”
– a comment to Jon Imber from a life-long Deer Isle resident.
Imber stands in the footprints of Marin and Hartley and paints with the abstract philosophy and energy of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollack, and his personal mentor, Philip Guston. An expressionist painter, Imber mixes color, gesture and a respect for the Maine landscape in his work. “Clearly, half of what is happening while I am looking and painting comes from my imagination, my mind and my heart, even memories of other paintings, and all of that is always changing,” he said. “Clouds and water, seaweed and rocks, even lilies — they’re what grab me.”
During a recent visit to his studio, Jon stated “Abstract plein-air challenges every aspect of painting I know – and I am the only one I know doing it like I do.” Jon speaks passionately about the creative spark to infuse excitement and color. “This area is the mother load for plein-air. There is more good painting on the coast of Maine than anywhere in the US outside of NY.”
In describing Imber’s work in the Boston Globe, Cate McQuaid wrote…”There’s something breathless, and breathtaking, about the dexterity and daring of Imber’s brushwork; it recalls 18th century Japanese Zen painting, which abandoned control for capturing the spirit of the moment.”
A Center for Maine Contemporary Art review says “Jon Imber’s sensuous brushstrokes make a peony monumental; his work expresses both the powerful energy of bloom and its fragility. He turns a flower into an event. His paintings burst with movement; they are never still.”
The Nielsen Gallery in Boston adds “Imber is . . . pushed to the brink of abstraction, clinging to the memory of natural beauty while creating a beauty all his own.”
Jon Imber at home in studio – photo Anthony Anderson
Jon Imber and artist wife Jill Hoy both appear in the new book “100 Boston Painters” by Chawkey Frenn and have spent summers in Stonington for nearly 20 years. He received his BFA from Cornell University and his MFA from Boston University where he studied under Philip Guston. Imber has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, School of Visual Arts in NYC, and Massachusetts College of Art. He is currently on the faculty of Harvard University. His first important exhibition was at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in 1978. He has work in numerous museum collections including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Fogg Museum and the Farnsworth Museum.
“Jon Imber: Life at the Shore” runs through Sept. 29. Greenhut Galleries is located at 146 Middle Street, Portland. Hours are Monday – Friday 10-5:30 and Saturday 10-5:00. For show information call 772.2693 or visit greenhutgalleries.com.