Since Mira Gerard was my painting professor at ETSU and we have remained in touch, I’m pretty well acquainted with her paintings. I’ve seen them online and in person, whether it’s her studio, a gallery, or the floor of her living room. It has been an on-going pleasure to see her work continue to develop, and to see it in a variety of places. Recently, I was able to see a grouping of her recent paintings titled Two Way Dream in the Panorama Gallery of William King Museum.
Something I’ve noticed before is that after seeing them digitally, there’s this expectation that the paintings will be larger than they are in life. They seem like they must be large to contain so much energy, so much action and nuance. The painting above, which has temporarily lost its Title, is only 10″ x 15″. Many others are about the same size, give or take a few inches. The intensity of desire, both forceful and lush, slow-burning and flashing, comes across in the digital images, but truly shines when looked upon directly.
So, as you can imagine, I was disappointed in the lighting of the Panorama Gallery. It was dark in that space, with only some cold overhead lights, and although it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the paintings, it certainly reduced their splendor. But this is an issue the museum is aware of already. Proper lighting installation is very expensive. Still, it’s a bit aggravating. I didn’t spend as much time with the paintings as I normally would, although to be fair, that’s in part because there was a reception going on. Two, actually.
And you know how it is at receptions, especially when two coincide. It’s a bit noisy with chatter, people stand in front of artwork to talk, and there’s concern about wine and whether there are any of those delicious brownies left. God help us if there’s more than three cheese options. While I was trying to see Mira’s painting on the back wall, which I hadn’t seen before, there were about three people who didn’t seem to grasp what I was doing. After a few minutes of me standing awkwardly near them, they shifted to the left. But then more people moved in, attempting to access the dessert side of the table. Basically, receptions are not really the time to see the work — unless you get there early or are just kind of “previewing” it.
However, I did overhear people commenting on Mira’s paintings, and pointing out this or that favourite. People seemed drawn to the sensual, dripping, vivid, at times muddy, physicality of the paint. The paintings that are pretty don’t have the quality of being “only pretty”, as so often pretty images do. I get a sense when I am looking at these figures that they are moving, but toward what end is often unclear. Isolated in their own little worlds yet still looked upon, they appear almost hypnotized and caught. But not waiting. Not anymore.
It was really great to see another grouping of her paintings, even with the issues present, because I’m always curious about how interpretations and experiences change according to context. And with Mira’s paintings especially, undulation is invited.