Wednesday, January 20, 2010

JW Waterhouse: Garden of Enchantment


A few weeks ago I saw a post on James Gurney's blog about a trip he'd taken with Dennis Nolan and Doug Anderson, two of my former professors from the Hartford Art School. They had gone to Montreal to see the JW Waterhouse exhibition at the Montreal Art Museum, and the review was glowing. I immediately emailed Dennis to ask if it was worth the trek, and his response was: "You must go! It's one of the top 5 shows I've ever seen!" High praise indeed!

So, it seemed we didn't have a choice. At 6am on Saturday morning of MLK weekend we piled into the car and began the pilgrimage. It turns out that about 15 other illustrators and art lovers that we know were heading up there the same weekend. We kept running into them in the streets, in bars, and, of course, at the exhibition, all of which lead to a raucous good time, as is usual with that crowd.

I've never known an art show to inspire so many people to make such a journey, and it was unquestionably worth it! I spent hours transfixed by the paintings. They glow, they are full of life, they are often much looser up close than I had imagined, and he used surprisingly subtle colors and shades (making them nearly impossible to reproduce accurately - or so it appears, based on the poor quality of the exhibition catalog). His subject matter is based on myth, legend, and history - he is a storyteller, a dramatist, something that we illustrators strongly relate to. The only other time I've felt truly stunned by a work of art was the first time I saw a Botticelli in person, four years ago. If there is any way you can make it up to Montreal before February 7, (when the show and most of the paintings leave North America for good) go!

Magic Circle