Brooklyn Partners in Paint

Jane Talcott's Marigolds

I was in New York City for a couple days late last week and attended an opening of a two-person show at the Tai Group on W. 30th St, a consultancy that offers a tremendous, professionally lit space for exhibits. On view, was work by a husband and wife team—Jane Talcott and John Lloyd—whose work occasionally can be hard to tell apart. Lloyd’s city scenes focus on architecture. He paints en plein air and in the four or five days it requires to finish a painting he often learns the history of a building and gets to know the people in the neighborhood. His work is vivid, cheerful, and, as he says, in his artist statement, the act of painting is a way of connecting with the world deeper than simply the conscious activity of moving a brush across a surface:

“Through the relaxed rhythm of the brush strokes I make a connection to the stories happening around me, the slow movements of the clouds, the rhythm of the water, the gestures of the wind moving though the trees, the many varieties of the movements made by the animals and the people around me enjoying their walk..”

He and Talcott work almost entirely in Brooklyn. They met 18 years ago, started painting together 5 years ago, sharing influences and competing in a friendly way, and were married less than two years ago. Their work is heavily gestural, from life, and they both paint urban scenes. Though I liked most of what I saw in the show, Talcott’s still lifes, some of them fairly large, stood out: both daring in their execution and accomplished in their handling of color, which has gotten more intense and varied in the most recent work. One of my favorites was one of the older paintings, a large still life of a melon and a jar, loosely rendered in subtle tones with a limited and cool palette. Another shows a pot of marigolds sitting on a windowsill with what appears to be a cityscape in the distance, possibly one of the bridges connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan. I come away from many shows with an ability to clearly visualize only a few works, but many of Talcott’s compositions remain vivid memories for me, offering a creative tension between spontaneous handling of paint and masterful color choice and composition. Her best work is stylistically indebted to masterful colorists: Matisse, Matthiasdottir, and Freilicher. It’s a show off the usual gallery beat, in a space many small galleries would envy. It’ll go back to see again if I get back to the city before it closes.

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