In the last year John Bonner, known for his urban and suburban paintings, began experimenting to spark his creative spirit.
Doing what he called “some wild stuff,” he reduced colors and forms into abstract compositions that didn’t quite satisfy him. An avid reader, Bonner then sought inspiration from a bit in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – where a student discovers it’s much more helpful to the artistic project to write about a specific brick in a wall of a house, than the house.
“I sort of set myself a rule that I mustn’t paint anything outside the confines of a small reclaimed area known as the Bulfinch Triangle, and doing that, the work began to flow again,” said the Boston-based artist. “I was back in business!”
The limited geography honed Bonner’s eye for detail in a way that endless variety couldn’t. In “Hopper’s Hydrant” a yellow capped hydrant conjures up one of Hopper’s stoic characters in a near empty landscape. The long shadow and heightened light defines the form of the black hydrant against its dark background. The monochromatic palette allows Bonner to modulate the background into a variety of grays and purples that add warmth to the stark composition.
“The Last Pile of Snow” depicts a forgotten pile of snow surrounded by light-splashed buildings, pedestrians and orange pylons, which enliven the gritty scene. The painting surface is adorned with noticeable brush strokes – as much about the act of painting as the artist’s ability to describe a scene.
Bonner’s strength is in observing his natural surroundings and interpreting it in a way that aids the viewer in seeing the beauty in the overlooked corners of our world. What some might consider unworthy of scrutiny, Bonner turns into delights of color, form and feeling. “Streetwise” will enchant the most winter weary amongst us.
This exhibit will be on display at McGowan Fine Art at 2 Phenix Ave. through July 27 and is the gallery’ s last show as McGowan is closing its doors after the show (more to come next week).
Call Sarah Chaffee at 225-2515 for more information or visit mcgowanfineart.com, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but are subject to change with the gallery set to close in a little over a month.