Mount Desert Island’s The Gallery at Somes Sound explores the nature of connection with its summer exhibit slate.
Anne Ireland, A Walk to the Harbor, 30×30 oil on canvas; Joseph McGurl, Top of the World, Acadia, 16×20, oil on panel; Brian Emerson, Too Small, acrylic on canvas, 18×24
It all starts with the feel-good chemicals, perhaps. Art and love, love and art: research in neuroesthetics (the study of your brain on art) suggests that looking at art and falling in love both produce the same rush of pleasure-inducing dopamine. And what if you fall in love with a work of art? Twice the dopamine, maybe. And perhaps something else — something spiritual?
It’s that psycho-spiritual experience of art that MDI’s The Gallery at Somes Sound is out to explore this summer with a series of exhibitions titled Et in Spiritum. Owner Tyra Hanson translates the Latin phrase as “the spirit within,” and in the eight years since founding her respected waterfront gallery, she has watched that internalized, metamorphic moment of connection play out again and again.
“Artists channel their emotions — whether that’s happiness, sadness, serenity, or awe — into their work, and that work, in turn, speaks to the viewer,” she says. “When people walk into the gallery, you can feel the static they bring with them from the world. When they leave, they’re at peace. I can help people to spark a little fire in their soul and awaken it, and that’s what these shows are about.”
As a curator, Hanson is a matchmaker of sorts. She wants people to fall in love at her gallery, to welcome those seeking to understand how a powerful piece of art communicates — whether it’s via dopamine or something more.
“When art speaks to you, you listen,” she says. “Last summer, someone came right up to the gallery in his kayak and connected with a sculpture by Sarah Seabury Ward. He wasn’t planning on finding a piece of art, but that’s how it happens. I wrapped it up so it was waterproof, and he paddled away with it. Love surprises you.”
That’s the Spirit
Curator Tyra Hanson on her gallery’s summer offerings.
“They have very different styles as wildlife sculptors, but their motivations are similar. There’s a power and uniqueness in the ways they express themselves that is a constant in their work.”
“All great painters who share a love of land and sea. Joseph is new to the gallery this year. He’s a student of luminosity, so he likes plein air painting, the physicality of standing in nature and experiencing the photons that make up light, then interpreting that truth in high fidelity.”
“I have one of Anne’s paintings hanging on my wall — the sky is pink, and the trees are purple. When you look at it, it seems right, because of the intensity and purity of color. She makes something that isn’t possible feel possible, and you get this sense of vastness and potential. Why should everything have to be realistic? You can’t not recognize a Graham Dougherty painting — they’re unique, the way he expresses himself through not only color but shape and proportion.”
“They’re both so in touch with nature. They capture the true essence of a sunrise, and you feel its spirit. Their artwork is extraordinary.”