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Plenty of Summer left …

July 16, 2012

In the introductory statement to her show at the library, Padgett McFeely says, “Art is a form of prayer.”

It’s nice to think that God enjoys prayer in some way, but the bottom line is that God doesn’t need prayer—we do. Prayer is reverence, communion, devotion, confession, praise, thanksgiving, and all too often, petition. We are changed by prayer, not God.

So, I like Padgett’s statement.

The first piece in the show is “Radiating Bliss,” with a young woman’s upturned face. A little later, you’ll come upon “Coming Back,” and lo! I think it’s the same woman, perhaps coming back from radiating bliss.

All of these works are mixed media on panels. They are richly textured, and in “Coming Back” and a few others, the background reveals bits of handwriting, perhaps pieces of old letters. They are like snippets of conversations overheard in echoing museum halls, almost intelligible.

This texture and calligraphy is also in “Seeking Balance,” which has Chinese- or Japanese-like calligraphy incorporated. I have no idea if the calligraphy is real. Well, of course it’s “real,” but I have no idea if it means anything to a reader other than Padgett.

I’m thinking it’s not “real,” because there’s also an arcane, scientific-looking symbol in there, too. What does “scientific” look like? Please don’t ask.

Padgett’s first artistic passion was photography, or at least photographic technology. She was soon hand-painting silver gelatin prints with oil paints.

Eventually, the digital revolution overtook photographic technology, and so Padgett reinvented her artistic self. She rather naturally moved on to painting with oil on canvas.

In this newest work, she layers acrylics to create a “canvas” on which she paints with oils. I think there’s also something about painting on boards or panels that stands out in the finished pieces. I’ve noticed this in museums, too, even from afar.

The textures of Padgett’s paintings are appealing, and the oil painting on top sometimes looks like a secret patina. I have no particular affection for the heart symbol, but in “Ancient Wonder” and “Essence,” Padgett’s hearts have a color, texture, and patina that make them powerful somehow.

The largest painting is “Mourning.” I haven’t fully accepted it as mourning yet. It looks closer to peace, but there also is some sadness to it. Maybe mourning comes to that.

It also has a curious price: $333. Given the rest of the show, I have to wonder if there’s a secret message in there—something more than whimsy, although whimsy is welcome, too.

Padgett’s show has only a couple of weeks left.

And the Summer Reading program has less than that. If you know children in the reading program, remind them to bring in their reading logs and get their points counted. We still have plenty of prizes left, but some are close to running out. The sooner they come in, the better.

We had a low-key reading program this year, coming out of the remodeling project, but plenty of children participated. Most public libraries have a summer reading program, which is entertaining but is also an important part of the school year.

It’s not all about colorful plastic prizes. Reading through the summer keeps student reading skills up so that they are ready to start the next grade come September.

But that’s a long way away. Plenty of Summer left …

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