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Center for Spiritual Care

Integrating Body, Mind, Spirit & Creativity

Center for Spiritual Care 20th Anniversary

Ian Maguire Opens the Door

            Thoughts on I M Ian:  Emerging Abstractionist

            Ian Maguire seems to have been prepping for his current exhibition at the Center for Spiritual Care since he was a boy.  Growing up in New Canaan, Connecticut, he taught himself to draw and recorded the world around him with single-minded persistence. 

            His sketches eventually came to the attention of artist and educator Roe Halper, who became an important mentor to Maguire from his early teens through high school.  She offered private classes that grounded her students in design and painting, and arranged their portfolios for art school entrance.  “Roe made us understand that we were not just aiming to be artists, but that we were already artists,” Maguire recalls. 

            And Halper expected her charges, like the practicing artists they were, to haunt not only nearby New York’s museums but its commercial galleries.  “In those early days, my mother and I would walk down little streets that didn’t seem very promising and we’d come across these wonderful shops full of art.” 

            Eventually Ian was old enough to do Chelsea on his own and one of those shops turned out to be the storied gallery Cheim & Read.  It was there Maguire came upon the work of Joan Mitchell, a New York School painter who was to influence him significantly. 

            “For years she was like my personal secret,” he says.  “None of my friends seemed to know anything about her but for me she was almost an obsession.  My teacher, Roe, had a book about her that she finally gave me when I graduated from high school because I had been studying it so much.”

            Committed at this early age to abstract expressionism, Maguire went on to refine his painting skills at Alfred University, a small school in Western New York known for its excellent arts program, and finished his undergraduate work at Manhattan’s Pace University, closer to the art scene.

            Later, when he moved to Vero Beach to be near his family, he began to work with noted painter Tim Sanchez.  “Tim started to critique my work about a year ago,” Maguire says, “and I feel as if I’ve made tenyear’s worth of progress since then.  It’s as if a door had opened.” 

            What’s different?  “I approach the canvas now in a very distinct way.”  He points to a painting he calls Destroyer.  “This one is the culmination of everything I’ve learned with regard to technique and form.  It’s gone through a dozen iterations but I was never entirely satisfied with it.  I like this version because you can see so much of the past in it, even -- if you know where to look -- a touch of the original painting.  I like paintings where you can see the history and the struggle that have gone into them.  To me that signifies growth.  Somehow I reached a new gear at the beginning of this past summer that allowed me to completely change the feel of my painting.”

            Unsurprisingly, Maguire paints every day -- all day and late into the night.  That clearly suggests there will be moments when his muse goes silent.  To jump start his process, he has no qualms about beginning with objects, often flowers, that will help him judge his color palette and where his forms might take him.  You’ll see at least one painting on the Center’s walls in which the floral motif still remains.  In others, it’s inherent.  “Certain color combinations contain within them for me not flowers themselves but the memories of flowers,” he says. 

            Among the most successful works in the show is Some Kind of Love, a painting in which Maguire tones down his exuberance and exercises almost uncharacteristic restraint.  The panting incorporates much scraping and overpainting but is free of the chaos he sometimes embraces, interestingly, as a unifying element. 

            Ian Maguire is a young man on the move.  This first exhibition of his work in Vero Beach marks a turning point in a career that has the potential to achieve important things. 

Past Exhibits

April 2019

Deb Gooch Takes a Long Look at Life

         When Deb Gooch riffles through the Kodak black-and-whites she inherited from her parents, a past reappears that seems a little like a dream.  There they are: her father and mother looking for all the world like William Powell and Myrna Loy in a Thin Man movie…her little brother, always underfoot…dogs she played with as a child…her favorite horse growing up.

         In Gooch’s hands, these memories become a rich source for paintings that in a personal sense may be cathartic but to the rest of us are transcendently joyful.   For, make no mistake, these paintings are not attempts to recreate the photograph.  They are meant to represent the emotions the photo evokes. 

         Gooch was deeply influenced as a student by Raoul Middleman, who has taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art (one of the oldest in the United States) since 1961.  Middleman has been described as a “Baltimore maestro [whose] narrative paintings give contemporary life to his personal obsessions. They are intelligent, messy, and utterly masterful.”  Although their styles diverge significantly, that would not be a bad way to describe Gooch’s narratives.

         The real difference surfaces in her sense of humor.  She lends a cartoonish lilt to many of her figures, encouraging us to smile at their antics.  Or the figures themselves radiate exuberant delight that evokes the same reaction in us, as in The Three Graces, an award-winning triple portrait of women having the time of their lives.

         Another name resonates when considering Gooch’s work, and it is one that brightens her face when mentioned.  It is Larry Rivers, the outlaw tenor saxophonist and breaker of rules whose paintings helped light up New York City in the ‘60s.  Gooch certainly does not paint like Rivers, but his influence might be deduced in her compositions, the lanky, nonchalantly intertwined bodies on her canvases, her insouciant placement of figures on a ground.

         Consider No More Dancin’, with its figure of a small boy in a bunny costume, a recurring trope, who shares the surface with the images of three “real” rabbits, one doing a hoedown.  It’s a painting Rivers would be entirely comfortable with.  Figures do recur in Gooch’s work regularly.  Whippets, purple hippos, crows, and fruits of many kinds pop up in the oddest places and at the strangest times.  They reappear mysteriously and often unintentionally, swirling up from her memory pool. 

         In the case of No More Dancin’, the recollection comes from a ballet class she attended as a child for a few weeks before a scheduled spring recital.  As she caromed about with an Easter bunny chorus line, her father turned to her mother and said, “Well, Janet, there goes your fifty bucks, hopping across the stage.” Repeated endlessly over family dinners, the anecdote became part of Gooch’s subconscious.

         Deb Gooch is a very special person in the Vero Beach art community.  Both as a teacher and as an example of a life devoted to art, she is a model for younger painters and a dedicated and supportive colleague to more experienced ones.  For her, the operative word is seldom “I” but most often “we.” Her paintings express her affection for family, friends, and all the creatures of this garden of earthly delights.  We are delighted to show her works at the Center for Spiritual Care.

 

Warren Obluck

 

Gallery

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