Arts & Culture

Exhibit brings dreams to life

Contributing Writer
Friday, September 14, 2012


Stepping into the Sarah Doyle Gallery to see work created by painter Julie Gearan is comparable to watching one’s own dreams. The exhibit features familiar landscapes in paintings that are offset by mysterious subjects. Gearan’s palette is composed of soft, cool pastels and deep, nebulous blacks and grays. Subject matter varies from pensive dancers with dark eyes to beached whales, and many paintings have Providence landmarks lurking in the background. 

The exhibition, “Now Again: Paintings by Julie Gearan,”  includes “quiet metaphoric still lifes” as well as “large narrative compositions,” Gearan said. It has a wide scope and covers many different themes. “It’s popular right now to have thematic shows,” Gearan said. “But even to title my show seems kind of funny.” 

Gearan said that unlike some artists, she does not paint to meet a deadline for an exhibition. “I paint until the painting is done,” she said. 

Gearan said she draws from a “historical art theme” or from her own life for inspiration. “Usually these things come from moments in time as a seed, and … if they stay there for long enough I start painting them,” she said. Her recent work has been most heavily influenced by Winslow Homer, a 19th century American painter best known for painting oceanside scenes, she said. Other artists who have inspired her include Guido Reni and Balthus.

Gearan said she hopes those viewing her art draw their own conclusions and create their own narratives. Her artist statement reads, “I expect the reading of my work to be open … allowing a sense of mystery and stirring curiosity.” She said her work is rooted in human experience and added that she often dwells on “the connection between the past, present and future … that ‘looping’ that happens.” 

A wide range of patrons came to experience Gearan’s work. Local resident Don Schim said he was particularly impressed by Gearan’s artistic talent. “This is better than most (shows),” he said. 

“I love what she does with color and light,” said Shelby Wilson ’15, who said she was inspired by Gearan’s work to improve her own art. 

The Sarah Doyle Gallery itself is unorthodox. Gearan called the colonial house-turned-gallery “domestic and intimate.” 

Gearan has been a member of the Rhode Island School of Design faculty since 2010 and also teaches at Roger Williams University. Her paintings will be on display until Sept. 29.