Mary Vernon, try “October,” 2011.

Mary Vernon Paintings is a large, luxurious collection of recent drawings and paintings from the prolific artist and long-time SMU faculty member.  It is likely the most joyously colorful show of paintings you’ll see all year.  Vernon’s work is all of these wonderful things at once:  domineering, unfussy, organic, spontaneous, and yet carefully planned and executed.  She builds every inch of her work in careful layers, often allowing us the indulgence of glimpses of her underpainting.  She mixes colors by painting thin translucent washes of color over thick, fat layers of paint – or vice versa.  Vernon plays by her own rules – her framing and composition, her use of adjacent colors, even her very brushstrokes (sometimes with great blobs of paint and other times ethereal drybrush)  break with tradition and theory to create a very personal and unique vision.

At the heart of Mary Vernon Paintings is a series of twelve square calendar paintings – titled January, February and so on.  Each month, according to the exquisite show catalog, features the Chinese calendar flower for that month.  September, 2012 is one of the best of these.  Here Vernon has painted a still life that includes the pink September flower (the Mallow Blossom) and a small gray-green Chinese figurative sculpture in front of an orange-red rising sun.  Vernon’s vocabulary uses a planar representation of space that defies labels like foreground and background.  She understands that our eye will read a certain space as the background, but instead of allowing that area to recede, she’ll often overlap that paint onto what we’d typically see as the foreground.  It’s quite a subtle yet effective way to focus a viewer’s attention here or there.

Mary Vernon is a master painter with a unique point of view.  This show is a testament to her gift.


11/10/12 through 12/08/12
Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden