Friends get ready to share the scene of an art exhibition at the library
Jamestown residents Pat King and Carol Gates are never far from each other.
Not only do they share the same profession as the painters, but they are friends and next door neighbours.
Until 2022, however, they had never exhibited their works as a duo. The Conanicus Avenue Women are co-featured in the first show of the year at the North Road Library. Sponsored by the Conanicut Island Art Association, the show will run until mid-February.
Local ceramist Jillian Barber, a board member of the association that organizes exhibits at the library, contacted King about the opportunity to showcase her work. It was King, however, who recommended her friend as a co-feature.
“I suggested maybe Carol and I could do it together,” she said. “I had sold a lot of paintings and my inventory was starting to drop. She said that would be great.
With Gates on board, the three women selected paintings for the library lobby wall. Gates has the left side of the library wall while King has the right. Each artist’s name has been placed above their paintings.
When assembling the exhibit, Barber told Gates and King to bring as many pieces as they wanted, and she organized them according to color, texture, and images when she asked. started hanging the paintings.
“I had three left, which worked really well on the other side of the wall,” Barber said. “Overall, the show looks good together; everything is mixed up. Individually, the pieces are very beautiful. There are images of Jamestown that I think people will like, and other images that are more whimsical.
While the women’s work has been exhibited in the same art exhibitions in the past, this gallery is their first exhibition of two artists. King moved to town in 2003 and Gates moved next door in 2005, and they quickly became friends. Gates was already an established artist and had painted for much of her life, and although it had been a hobby for King, she began studying at the Newport Art Museum after meeting Gates.
“Over the years, I branched out into various mediums,” King said. “I appreciate.”
King and Gates regularly exhibited their work together at the outdoor market under Simpatico’s pergola on Narragansett Avenue during the summer. Barber said the duo were reliable sellers and were there every Saturday morning, rain or shine.
All of Gates’ paintings in the exhibition are in oil, which is his preferred medium. She likes oils because they are easy to mix and dry slowly, allowing her to make changes or improvements before the paint sets.
Gates painted in several different styles with many different subjects. For example, one of his paintings in the exhibition is “Still Life with Gorby Jug”. The jug was named for an imperfection that reminded it of the port wine stain birthmark on the head of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
“I painted it in the early 90s when Gorbachev was in power in Russia,” Gates said. “I like the bright colors and the composition.”
King’s paintings are in various mediums including watercolour, oils and acrylics. King said oils are more forgiving and easier to work with than watercolors, while she likes acrylics because they dry quickly.
Among King’s favorite works in the library display is ‘Flight of Fancy’, which is a modern oil artwork that had hung in his own living room before being mounted in the library. The painting features a swirl of colors including blue, turquoise, yellow and gold.
“It inspired me when I was in Las Vegas and someone saw a sketch of mine that I had done in the back of a notebook,” she said. “When I came back, I thought I was going to do it on a little bigger scale. I had a small Tiffany lamp that I placed underneath and it was reflected on the painting, and I liked the effect.
Both Gates and King have submissions from earlier episodes of the “Fakes and Forgeries” exhibition at Newport’s Spring Bull Gallery, in which artists are commissioned to create imitations of famous paintings. Gates presented his versions of “Fall Plowing” by Grant Wood and “Uncle Sam” by Norman Rockwell.
“It was fun to do and, I thought, very whimsical,” Gates said of his Rockwell facsimile. “That makes me smile.”
King selected his “Fakes and Forgeries” version of Casper David Friedrich’s “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”.
“I saw it and really liked it,” she said. “There was just something in the mood. It is very foggy and strange.
Gates said his favorite work of King in the gallery was a Newport Bridge scene lit up for Independence Day. King, meanwhile, said her favorite Gates paintings at the library this month included one of the fall colors reflected on the water and a beach scene with grasses. King said she hopes people who view her gallery and Gates’ paintings will enjoy their work.
“If someone likes one of your paintings and is honest about it, I think that’s a reward,” she said.