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Ed Brothers paints with past memories and nostalgic

The+State+of+the+Art+Gallery+opened+its+exhibitions+for+the+month+of+November.+Ed+Brothers%2C+president+of+the+board+of+directors+and+artist%2C+had+his+work+showcased+at+the+gallery+on+Nov.+12.+
Mei Dennison
The State of the Art Gallery opened its exhibitions for the month of November. Ed Brothers, president of the board of directors and artist, had his work showcased at the gallery on Nov. 12.

Located in Downtown Ithaca, the State of the Art Gallery presented its annual solo and dual exhibitions for the month of November. This year, Ed Brothers, president of the board of directors and fellow artist, presented his work in “Divergence-Convergence.” 

The gallery is run entirely by the members — a few to name are Barbara Behrman, Mary Ann Bowman, Patricia Brown and Margy Nelson, who pay dues each month and volunteer at the gallery. In addition, all exhibitions are free to the public. Each member is an artist and gets their chance to have their work displayed in the “Salon,” a room that’s dedicated to showcasing the work of the solo or dual artists. 

Brothers’ collection is a fusion of past and present, a visual narrative that captures the essence of life’s quiet and familiar moments. Utilizing the medium of oil pastels, Brothers’ paintings, both old and new, come together in a display of nostalgia and memory.

The exhibit, featuring relatively small yet intricately detailed paintings, offers a diverse range of subjects. From the rich textures of a slice of pizza to photo-esque landscape images, and even the expressive face of a fish caught twice, Brothers’ artistry showcases the beauty found in everyday life.

Brothers’ commitment to realism is evident throughout the exhibition, ensuring that his memories are represented as accurately as when he first saw them.

“I want things to look like they actually look,” Brothers said. 

To guarantee that his paintings are as realistic as possible, Brothers said he takes a picture and paints from there. He said his paintings serve as a way to relive the places he’s been, the people he knows and the experiences he’s encountered. The result is a collection that offers viewers an opportunity to connect with the familiar and evoke their own memories.

“The human eye has a dynamic range, which is much better than digital photography, and even better than film photography,” Brothers said.

Another common thread amid Brothers’ paintings is nature, with many of his paintings being captured from fishing trips. Brothers’ paintings stem from his personal experiences. The fish that he captured at the Delaware River where he fishes dove into Brothers’ past as a marine biologist and an ichthyologist, a person who studies fish. Brothers said he had always been an artist, but he chose to pursue his interest in science instead. Now that he has retired, Brothers’ background still shines through his work.

As he walked through his exhibit, Brothers explained how the pieces start to push and pull in different directions; how the pieces related to human construction, pieces that are semi-abstract and pieces that go back to what he’s most familiar with: trees.

Reminiscent of life, many of Brothers’ paintings have details that might be missed if viewers do not pay full attention. In his piece, “Reflection in a Golden Eye,” viewers see a fish that he had caught and in its eye is the outline of Brothers himself. It is small intricate details like that which capture memory. While no one’s memory is perfect, Brothers’ work seems to be able to capture a memory while it is being made. 

Brothers’ paintings play with perspective and lighting which further the narrative of his personal experiences. 

In one of Brothers’ pieces, “Topsy-Turvey,” it showcases a grove of trees in the reflection of a creek. The trees are upside down and represent just one of the many ways Brothers plays with the composition of a painting. Even with all this experimenting, Brothers’ commitment to realism always shines through. 

In a talk-back about his exhibition on Nov. 11, attended mainly by fellow members, Brothers explained the reason his exhibition is titled “Divergences-Convergences.” 

“The divergence is represented in the new directions and trying to look different ways,” Brothers said. “Convergences are going back to the same places, the same subjects that I have been to many times.” 

During the discussion, Brothers went into more detail about the process of working with oil pastels and how to create interesting textures in a painting along with his journey working with oil pastels. 

“I started and bought a really cheap set of oil pastels,” Brothers said. “There were 48 pastels for $12. I still have them. I no longer use them, and the reason is because it turns out that the color doesn’t hold up very well.” 

The talk-back was filled with members of the gallery, intently listening to Brothers’ explanations about his works, and engaged in conversation about his different inspirations for his paintings, the tools he used to showcase his art and the different techniques used in his pieces. 

Fellow gallery member and artist Margy Nelson said she admired Brothers’ work. Nelson recognized the photographic aspect of Brothers’ pieces but also recognized his unique technique.

“[The paintings] get a great sense of depth and reality,” Nelson said. “But, it’s not just that he looks at something and draws it. He’s somebody who creates a way of composing and framing it that makes it into a really lovely piece of art.” 

Susan C. Larkin, retired elementary school teacher and member of the gallery, recognized Brothers’ artistry past his painting skills, noting the effort that he puts into taking the perfect picture.

“He does choose what he’s going to paint because his paintings are so careful,” Larkin said. “Well, photography isn’t art right? ‘No, no, it’s just photographs. Anybody can do that.’ But, which photograph? Which spot? Which place?” 

“Divergence-Convergence” will be running at the gallery until Nov. 26.

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Jacquelyn Reaves, Newsletter Editor
Mei Dennison, Videographer
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