Lyme Academy professors get 'Real' in first joint show

"The Neighborhood," acrylic on panel by Roland Becerra, is featured in his award-winning short animated film "Dear Beautiful."

What do Nancy Gladwell and Roland Becerra have in common?

They're both established artists and professors in the painting department of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts - Gladwell for 20 years and Becerra for 11.

Both artists' paintings also tell stories and are about relationships.

And both of their bodies of work are diverse in subject matter and style - representational, abstract, and a combination of the two. Hence the title of the artists' first joint show: "Real, Abstract and Otherwise," which recently opened at Six Summit Gallery in Ivoryton.

Gladwell, of Old Lyme, received her MFA from Hartford Art School, University of Hartford and has studied painting in Italy. She exhibits widely and has won numerous awards and grants for her artwork.

Becerra resides in Bridgeport and received his MFA from Yale School of Art. He also has won multiple awards and grants for his work. In addition to painting, he is an award-winning animator and filmmaker.

But as much as the artists have in common, their paintings are also quite varied. They approach their subjects in very distinct ways and work in different mediums: Gladwell in oil and Becerra in acrylic.

"We both present stories, narrative aspects, glimpses of worlds - even in the abstract paintings," says Gladwell. "Ultimately, everything is about relationships both human and abstract."

"There's mood in the work, the story of the things you don't see in the paintings, the mystery," Becerra adds. "There's a sense of the way people interact in their environments. All the paintings are a view of America."

"We're always trying to make sense of our worlds," says Gladwell.

"That's what painting is - artists observing the world around them," Becerra says.

"I'm a filmmaker/animator and my paintings are an extension of my filmmaking process," Becerra explains. "Lots of time the work is preparatory for the animation."

The subject of many of Gladwell's new paintings in the show is what people do on vacation.

"I have a special interest in leisure time," she says. "In western civilization it's a necessary part of the year. It somehow strikes me as a little absurd, funny, that you work, prepare, to have a vacation. The vacation is a different type of work."

Becerra's paintings reflect his interest in decay and things that are broken. Gladwell notes that this is another thing they have in common.

"My basement series is about decay and old, discarded things," she says. "My work (ranges from) vacations to basements - bright and sunny to cavernous. The vacation paintings are voyeuristic, the basement ones are actually more intimate."

"Sometimes ugly things have beauty to them," Becerra notes. "Shape, line, form, and color…"

"…and then it becomes a paradox that this debris becomes a source of beauty - something you want to investigate, record, honor in a way," Gladwell adds.

Gallery owner Leonardo Feroleto says that Gladwell's and Becerra's paintings are similar in that "the technical work is outstanding. The colors and mixtures are outstanding. Their skill sets are outstanding. And they're visually accessible. I think the show will get a very diverse audience. Someone who is not an art aficionado could feel comfortable with the subject matter, as well as someone who is very discerning and knowledgeable about art."

"At the Beach," oil on canvas by Nancy Gladwell
"August Camping," oil on canvas by Nancy Gladwell.


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