“I am drawn to subjects that I don’t fully understand visually, that are mysterious, elusive, and at times almost impossible to see clearly.”
In Subtones in Springtime, Christine Lafuente explores the parallels between color and musical form in her newest series of paintings. The overlapping terminology between art and music helps to illuminate comparisons between the two fields. Lafuente says, “I begin to transpose visual experience into an imaginary painting experience… like a musician who reads music with the playing of a specific instrument in mind, this kind of looking is experienced in the language of oil color, brushwork, and flatness.” Likewise, Lafuente focuses on the relevance of subtones, which she likens to subconscious presence, or emotional states that can be captured and embedded within her works.
Architectural elements are also expressed through Lafuente’s visual vocabulary. Seascapes and cityscapes are re-imagined on an intimate scale as tablescapes populated with various objects and flowers. When composing a tableau, Lafuente says, “I’m very interested in ‘melodies’ of color that move across a larger color field or key”, and “I tend not to rearrange, but just play the notes I’ve given myself”.
Drawn to islands from an early age, Lafuente enjoys featuring the shorelines and rocky, coastal scenes of New York harbors and Maine. Influenced by atmospheric painters such as Turner and Corot, Lafuente employs a variety of techniques to “tune in to the visual experience”, such as premixing large color relationships in a scene before committing to a composition. This allows her paint handling to be intentional and direct. Natural forms begin to emerge from within a dreamy ambiance and light is either obscured or accentuated by surrounding moisture.
Lafuente harmonizes these color relationships in chords across the surface of her still life and landscape works. She paints with heavy, luscious strokes that are applied with confidence and allure. Pink, purple, and red flowers dot the center of a work like notes on a staff, while rhythmic bands of hazy blues draw the eye into a foggy atmosphere. Deeper, darker tones become the bass notes that support the joyous trills of her signature, bright pastels. Playfully balancing color and light with the surrounding space, these directed compositions can be read as both an abstract design and a representational narrative.
Lafuente delights in the process of her creative experience. Her expanded intuitive approach and technical knowledge are conveyed to us through her beautiful paintings. Her “records” are not only pleasurable, but also provide the opportunity for a contemplative return.
Christine Lafuente is a renowned painter and teacher who is represented by Gross McCleaf, Somerville Manning, Morpeth Contemporary and others in Maine and New York. She has exhibited her work in over 40 solo exhibitions across the region. Her work is in public collections including Princeton University, College of William and Mary, ARCO Chemical Company, and Cigna Insurance Company of North America. She has received awards for her work including the Howard A. and Gail F. Schaevitz Foundation Grant, the Sketch Club Medal for Achievement in the Visual Arts, The Adolf and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant, and many others. She holds an A.B. from Bryn Mawr College, an M.F.A. from Brooklyn College and a Certificate from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
“From the beginning, I was reading the newspaper religiously and rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals, later the Red Sox, and now the Phillies. As time goes on, I pick up more and more teams… I’ve become more of a fan of the game itself. I’ve even started to respect and sympathize with Yankee fans.”
-Max Mason III
In his newest solo exhibition “Play Ball!” Max Mason returns to the classic subject matter of Major League Baseball with paintings and drawings depicting America’s favorite pastime. Like many contemporary artists, Mason has fruitfully combined his passion for artmaking with an ardent personal interest. Illustrating key moments of the game and the energetic movements of particular players alike, his dynamic compositions arise from stadium seats to capture the excitement and pleasure of a sunny afternoon in the stands.
Each of Mason’s paintings offer something special for the quintessential fan. Some works, such as PNC Park, Pittsburgh, foster a sense of connection to the passage of time by utilizing imagery from old photographs. Others, such as Extra Bases and Richie In Connie Mack, instantly transport the viewer into the present moment through keenly observed kinetic portrayals of players in action. While the paintings are largely representational, Mason employs painterly brush strokes to indicate form and a stylized shorthand reminiscent of comic strip illustrations or heroic cartoons, that serves to exaggerate his players’ postures. Mason also uses patterned abstraction to handily portray the faceless mass of spectators in the background. At times, the active nature of these multicolor marks further enhances the perception of motion expressed in the works.
Beyond the portraits of players, fans and the game itself, the viewer is also treated to detailed perspectives that are not easily accessible. One can soar high above the stadium in The Great American Ballpark With Birds, or savor the delight of concession foods up close in Dollar Dog Night, Progressive Field, Cleveland. Viewers can easily imagine the attendant smell of popcorn and hear the familiar tunes of the pipe organ in this lighthearted, homerun exhibition. Go Phillies!
Max Mason grew up in the Boston area. He attended Vassar College and graduated in 1975 with a degree in Geology. In 1981 he began studying with landscape painter Neil Welliver at The University of Pennsylvania. Soon after, his favorite subject matter became baseball.
Mason has been represented by Gross McCleaf Gallery since 1986. He has had two solo exhibitions at the Butler Institute of American Art in 1992 and 2021. In 2004, he was commissioned by the Philadelphia Phillies to create a number of paintings and murals for their new ballpark. He has exhibited internationally and has had over 20 one-person shows nationwide. In 2010 he started The BallPark Project, an endeavor to paint large, dynamic, fan oriented paintings of all 30 Major League Baseball ballparks. He blogs about his travels, the creation of the paintings and the ball parks themselves. He is also a musician and performs with his daughter Margaret and has enjoyed playing with the power swing band “The After Dinner Mints”. He released his first album, “Social Security” in 2020. He and his wife live in Wynnewood, PA.