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In four-man show at Mill Brook Gallery, new perspectives on botanical beauty

  • Lilium Lux by Sean Beavers

    Lilium Lux by Sean Beavers

  • Zdzislaw Sikora “Birds 3”

    Zdzislaw Sikora “Birds 3”

  • David Carroll, “Water Lily”

    David Carroll, “Water Lily”

  • Patrick McCay, "Boat and Roses"

    Patrick McCay, "Boat and Roses"

  • Patrick McCay, "Not So Still Life"

    Patrick McCay, "Not So Still Life"

  • Lilium Lux by Sean Beavers
  • Zdzislaw Sikora “Birds 3”
  • David Carroll, “Water Lily”
  • Patrick McCay, "Boat and Roses"
  • Patrick McCay, "Not So Still Life"

Most people know what a moose looks like. Or a fish making its way through a pond, or a bird on the wing, or plants swaying under a summer sun.

So as an artist, how does Patrick McCay go about making those Granite State staples fresh?

He focuses on the flowers.

“What I am trying to do is restate your common icons, and it’s quite a challenge, because everyone in New Hampshire painted a barn or a deer, but can you actually say it differently?” McCay said. “I’m trying to pose something that gets beyond the ordinary to give a lofty significance to what is ordinary. Part of that is painting that everyday thing to try to extend it to something less familiar but providing enough clues and communication.”

In fact, all the gents in the Four Men – Four Botanicals show at the Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden takes a turn at tiptoeing through the tulips, lilies and buttercups. McCay, David Carroll, Sean Beavers and Zdzislaw Sikora will show off a bouquet of paintings, each depicting blooms of all sorts and in unexpected ways.

The exhibit runs through Aug. 24.

“Men have very interesting interpretations (of flowers), and some are very traditional and some are very unorthodox, but they are very exciting,” said Pam Tarbell, owner and curator of Mill Brook. “They are incredible artists.”

Born in Scotland, McCay has exhibited his paintings in Britain, Portugal, Australia and the United States. He took a sabbatical from his post as senior faculty fellow and chairman of the fine arts at the New Hampshire Institute of Art to create several of the pieces up for exhibit. For this show, he’s selected work with flowers hidden but then suddenly apparent in the larger landscape. His multimedia pieces are a combination of found objects and iconic oil painted images.

“(My work) is not highly representational, but it’s not abstract because I would not have been happy painting just a beautiful form which I could paint,” he said. “That doesn’t interest me. . . . I have to have these other juxtapositions.”

As for the rest of the artists in the show, Beavers lives in Maine and teaches drawing and painting at the University of New Hampshire and the institute.

“Through the processes of painting and drawing, the beauty of everyday objects and simple things slowly begin to be revealed to me,” he wrote in an artist’s statement. “As well as the patterns and intricacies that tie them to me, and to the greater patterns inherent in our world.”

Beavers’s realistic paintings are “symbolic of his fascination with the temporal: the essence of time, emotions, dreams, and desires are evoked in exquisite detail,” Tarbell said.

Carroll, who is an artist-naturalist, longtime resident of New Hampshire and best known for books including 1991’s The Year of the Turtle, has an entirely different take on the blooms around him. Carroll draws from his 40 years of experience as a field conservationist observing pond life, and in this exhibit, his wife’s garden, to create “glorious watercolors that are unusually sensitive,” Tarbell said.

Carroll’s body of work earned him the MacArthur Fellowship’s Genius Award.

As for Zdzislaw Sikora, who is an associate dean at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where he teaches printmaking, his work can be found in museums and galleries in China, Japan, Argentina and the United States. Originally from Germany, Sikora constructs his colorful images on a series of large Plexiglas plates, using an average of 12 plates per print, Tarbell said. The completed print is accomplished using cotton balls, his hands and other found objects until he gets the looks he wants.

The Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden is located at 236 Hopkinton Road. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be an artists’ reception tomorrow from 5 to 7 p.m. For information, visit themillbrookgallery.com, or call 226-2046.

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