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She paints, I sculpt, you paint, she...
Youth is not so much wasted on the young when there are talented mentors around to guide them.
It helps, too, if the youth has talent.
Painter Anne Belov and sculptor Georgia Gerber became friends on the East Coast while each was in graduate school.
Gerber had her first date with her future husband at Belov’s house in Pennsylvania.
Eventually, the artists followed each other to Whidbey Island, and along came Gerber’s daughter, Laura Gerber Hudson, now on her way to graduate school herself to study painting back East.
There, Hudson will live in the home of a fellow painter and friend of Belov’s in Baltimore, Md. who will continue the mentoring that Belov had started when Hudson started painting. She was about the same age then as Belov and Gerber were when they met.
The circle of artistic life is magnified in each phase of these women’s lives and continues to broaden.
Now, all three artists are showing work at Karlson/Gray Gallery; Belov in a show of oils and monoprints entitled “Time & Place” that is already open, and Gerber’s sculptures and Hudson’s oil paintings in “Go Figure,” which opens July 3.
With “Go Figure,” the circle reveals not only the influence of a daughter growing up in a household where the colorful paintings of her mother’s friend hung all around her while her mother was honing her skills as a sculptor for more than 25 years, but also how one’s influence over the young can find its way back to the source.
“I’m at this place where I can explore something new,” Gerber said.
“My daughter said to me, ‘Mom, step out a little bit and try something new.’ So I said, ‘OK!’”
Gerber refers to the fact that the pieces she will show in “Go Figure” are a departure from the beloved and highly-sought-after animal sculptures that have become her trademark. Her new work is entirely figurative, a direct influence of the figurative paintings of her daughter.
“It makes sense because I paint like a sculptor,” Hudson said.
“I’ve been influenced by the way she sees forms, and now she’s influenced by the forms I’ve seen. I’m really excited by the work she’s doing,” she said, referring to her mom’s human sculptures.
Belov’s influence on the young painter is apparent by the way Hudson speaks about what she’s learned from the older artist.
“The best thing she told me was that painting is a job. You get up a 9 a.m. and you work. If you do that, you’ll get somewhere. Have a routine, treat it like a regular job, organize, think ahead about shows and plan your paintings. Don’t wait for inspiration. You just go,” Hudson said.
Indeed, Belov is a prolific painter and has been supporting herself solely through her art for more than 30 years.
Belov said her work is concerned with the portrayal of light, structure, color and the specificity of place and time. Landscape, still life and interior imagery with figures are all part of her repertoire of subject matter.
“But it’s mainly about how the light is hitting,” Belov said.
Light, she said, is as important as objects or buildings are in determining a sense of place, often exploring the light at the edges of the day and night.
This emphasis on light is a signature for Belov, who named Edward Hopper, Johannes Vermeer, John Singer Sergeant, Edgar Degas and photographer Ruth Bernhard, light-lovers all, as important influences.
“Baltimore will be a great place for Laura to be. Baltimore, Philadelphia, D.C. and New York will be easy to get to, and she’ll see the paintings she’s been looking at in books in the flesh. It makes a huge difference to see the collections in the flesh,” Belov said.
She works from a variety of photos. Some are from the past, such as the one she used of her grandmother reading a newspaper, entitled “Getting the News,” from a 20-year-old photo. Some are more recent photos.
But, she said, she no longer looks for inspiration, but rather lets it fall where it may.
“I’ve learned not to look for paintings,” Belov said.
“I’ve learned to be open to what I’m seeing, except more specific.”
Working from photos, however, is only possible after one has trained the eye through years of working from a life model.
“Photoshop is great, but I’m wary of the computer generation,” Belov said.
“Georgia and I worked from life for 20 years. We have that memory that we can add to what we see in the photo. That early training informed so much of what we see now.”
Gerber agreed, and said she is excited to see her daughter taking the next step of that journey toward a trained eye.
Hudson has just completed a bachelor of fine arts at Western Washington University in Bellingham and has been accepted to the Maryland Institute College of Art, for which she received a partial scholarship.
Hudson’s professors at Western encouraged her to apply to graduate school for painting. She said they told her that the values she has in her paintings and her use of color are particular to her style and to stick with them.
“Seeing my daughter at that point where she’s just starting out and is excited to explore the possibilities of her art has got me excited again about exploring my own art,” Gerber said. “I feel like a kid again.”
Hudson, for her part, is well into the throes of living the life of a serious artist.
“Painting is it; it’s 100 percent all day long for me,” Hudson said.
“I like the immediacy after the brushstroke, the color is there, you get into a groove and it feels fulfilling. This year I just worked and worked and worked.”
Much of that work can be seen in “Go Figure” from Friday, July 3 through Wednesday, July 29 with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 4.
Gerber will be discussing her work and the bronze- casting process from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at the gallery.
“Time & Place” runs through Wednesday, July 1 with a discussion and painting demonstration by Belov from 1:30 to 3 p.m. today in the gallery.
Karlson/Gray Gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at First Street and Anthes Avenue in Langley.