Gilmore Tamny’s Destiny Eludes is on display at the Central Somerville Library until the end of July. I went after first going to the wrong library on a very hot day. By the time I navigated around the construction and arrived at the correct place, I was afraid I was no longer in the mindset to enjoy art. But something magical happened, as I stood in the room, surrounded by 45 or so paintings of fawns, owls, squirrels, rabbits, bears, kittens, and a buffalo. I was momentarily transported. To a world where curious animals sleep and play and frolic among the trees. It’s a surreal world, where ghostly figures dance and soar through the air, and a witch flies with her winged books with a basket of kittens on her back.
In her artist statement Tamny says, “I paint representational images, often of woodlands and animals, in gouache or acrylics on canvas or media paper. I also depict landscapes, seascapes, cats, dogs, and human figures and faces. I paint at home at my desk…I’m self-taught and have drawn and painted all my life…with what I hope is humility and a lack of fussiness, my work is ultimately addressing the mystery of life. I often see this mystery more clearly through animals than I do people.” This mystery of life is indeed evident in Tamny’s paintings especially when you read their titles. They have names like: Here We Go Again, Bear Showing Up in Someone’s Vision, Unusual Circumstances, Secret Society, The Lost Chord, and Satan’s Last Bid to Get Back into Heaven Part I and II. The unexpected titles add an extra layer to the story told by the work.
My favorite pieces in the show were the ones that were a bit reminiscent of Marc Chagall’s work with their floating figures and bursts of color. Satan’s Last Bid to Get Back into Heaven is the most Chagallian with its female flying Satan. Here We Go Again depicts an owl and a winged mantel clock flying across a background with a very interesting texture with hints of pink sky poking out between the blue clouds. Time is a common theme in Tamny’s work. She has a stunning piece called Clock where animals replace the numbers on the canvas hovering over a grove. Her sense of humor is revealed with My Impression of California Growing up in Columbus, Ohio showing an oceanscape with large, curled waves. Her use of color in this painting is especially vivid, with deep cobalt blue for the waves and a lovely coral for the sunset.
Tamny continues in her artist statement with “I hope in my work you can see that intangible tangible of someone committing to find their own vision. This seems a small thing, a tiny victory of one but is kind of everything too. My hope would be for a viewer to feel recognition, consolation, amusement, joy, some sort of truth, and /or pleasure in this visual language of mine, but, in any case, to be inspired to locate or make their own.” Tamny certainly succeeds in these goals with Destiny Eludes. I at least, felt recognition, joy, and pleasure in her paintings. It appears other people experienced the same feelings because several of the paintings are marked as sold. Congratulations Gilmore on selling a few paintings and on a lovely showing!