NORTH ADAMS -- "We have such a funny relationship to winter," said Jaye Fox, co-director with Thor Wickstrom, of studio21south in North Adams.
"You sort of love it, but it’s the most difficult to get through. It comes with all kinds of jobs that the other seasons don’t. You know - you could rake your lawn or not, you could garden or not, but you kind of can’t get around dealing with snow, or frost on your windshield."
This winter, to celebrate the four seasons - those we love and those we love but also endure - "Four Seasons" at studio21south will feature the work of Fox, Wickstrom, Frank Curran and Eric March from Dec. 15 through Feb. 28.
Contributors to the studio’s gallery space on Eagle Street all share a devotion to perceptual observational art, painting or drawing not just what they see but what they perceive as they create - a process that invite the viewer to make his or her own interpretations.
"And some of that [art] can be abstract," Fox said. "What you get from observation ... doesn’t have be based in realism or representation. It could be abstract. And that is OK."
The work of Karen Walter, for instance, which was shown at the gallery earlier this year, often consists of multiple-medium layers and is abstract, but inspired by the rock formations and whirlpools at Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams.
The artists featured in "Four Seasons," however, are mostly rooted in contemporary realism (although without aiming to abolish the mark of the painter herself, as is often the case with hyperrealism, a movement popular in the United States and Europe since the early 2000s).
The works chosen for the show were each created with the intention of capturing the essence of the place and time at which they were made - an approach that clearly translates well into a show about the four seasons.
"When we have a show I try to find what the artists are doing, and then I usually try to make a show from that," Fox said. "I definitely think that each artist, when they’re there, they’re trying to capture the essence of what is there in front of them and around them, and that all makes it into the painting.
"Where they are and who they are - and the season is a huge part of that. The season, the time, the weather."
In a sense mirroring the changing weather of the seasons, the selections will rotate throughout the duration of the show, with works being added or subtracted to keep things fresh. About twice as many works have been selected as will at any one time be on display.
The show will also run for longer than is usual for most artist galleries participating in DownStreet Art (a public project to support artists and help revitalize downtown North Adams), in order to give viewers a chance to absorb the work and to encounter new works as they are added.
One feature of perceptual art, Fox said, is that it does not seek to immediately answer all of the questions a viewer might have, such as
Why did the artist choose that particular color, or What emotions are being expressed? But living with the paintings over time allows the viewer to engage with them in new and unexpected ways.
Selections for the show will be grouped by season rather than by artist, with spring having it’s own separate room, toward the back of the gallery, as for many it will invite longer, perhaps hopeful contemplation.
As Fox points out, it is often from the stillness of winter that we are "more attuned to what the different seasons can bring us. It’s a good time for reflection, and people go through so many mood swings, between enjoying the quiet of winter and waiting for spring. I like a show that addresses the various moods that people bring to winter."
So if you’re feeling restless, or just enjoying a quiet afternoon, visit studio21south and take in the seasons this winter.
"Four Seasons" will be on display at studio21south on Eagle Street in North Adams from Dec. 15 through Feb. 28. Info: email@example.com.