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Janet Rickus in Museum Shows

November 7, 2013

Opening November 8, 2013 at the Berkshire Museum is an exhibition featuring the paintings of Janet Rickus and Colin Brant.  The show, Radical Traditionalism runs through   Two Rickus paintings are on loan from Quidley & Company for this exhibition.

“The Berkshire Museum’s new exhibition, opening Friday, wants to remind visitors that such durable genres (landscape and still life) have plenty to offer if looked at the right way. “Radical Traditionalism” highlights the work of two regional artists who prove that engagement with the past doesn’t mean giving up on the future.

Vis-a-Vis  13x18"

Vis-a-Vis 13×18″

Both Janet Rickus and Colin Brant are deeply informed by past masters but not restrained by them. Rickus paints meticulously crafted images of fruit and vegetables whose simple presentation leaves open many questions and ideas.

Rickus’s work can also be viewed at the Fitchburg Art Museum in the exhibition Still Life Lives! This show incorporates works from the Museum’s permanent collection; Marc Chagall, Henri Fantin-Latour, William Harnett, Walt Kuhn, Georgia O’Keeffe, et al, with still lifes by numerous contemporary New England artists including our very own Janet Rickus, and Scott Prior.  This show is on display through January 12, 2014.

Rickus, who lives in Great Barrington, has been working in her signature styles since the early 1980s. She said she gets ideas from everyday life, from the supermarket and farmers markets. In her studio, she arranges her subjects under light from a north-facing window, and she uses photographs to help arrange the individual pumpkins, sweet potatoes, onions or lemons.

She presents the subjects with photographic detail, carefully crafted colors and lines. They are often arranged on linens, and presented about life-sized and at eye level. In such a way, they have a certain dignity. They are free of the heavy allegorical density of, for example, the great Dutch masters of the 17th century, in which an hourglass exists to signal the fleeting nature of time, or a dog appears to symbolize fidelity, and so on.

“I don’t paint objects because of their value,” she said. “I paint them because I like them.”

From such a deceptively simple start, a flood of connections and quick narratives almost automatically emerge. There is a sense of humor or whimsy in the images, which almost demands that you make up a story for them — pears that look like a football huddle, a pumpkin that seems to collapse exhausted on a pillow.

available paintings by Janet Rickus

Berkshire Museum website

Fitchburg Exhibition website

article in Berkshire Eagle

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