The Block Island Times

Painter Tom McAleer exhibits at Déjà Vu

Jun 25, 2013

Prolific en plein air artist Tom McAleer graces the Block Island art scene once more with a late-June exhibition at Déjà Vu Gallery on Chapel Street.

Though the painter resides in Jamestown, his playful field studies have appeared in several island galleries over the years. McAleer credits the Island Gallery and its late proprietor — whose work will show at Deja Vu in late-summer — for expanding his artistic vision. “Mary Newhouse taught me how to live as an artist,” McAleer says.

He followed Newhouse’s example by the book; McAleer lives and breathes the art he creates. “I paint every morning and every afternoon, regardless of the weather,” he says. “I paint en plein air and always finish on-site.”

When he’s not painting, McAleer works with adults with developmental disabilities at Top Drawer Art at the BRASS in Warren. He draws inspiration from his students, particularly one motivated artist, Emett Estrada. “I love to watch his process,” McAleer says, “the freeness of self-expression, the lack of concern about what people think, the meditative movement of making marks. All of the artists there have taught me so much about how important the process is.”

He describes his own method as “loose and fast,” though you’d never know it looking at the fluid lines and effervescent, humming hues of his work. “My process, I think, is part of my style because I want the viewer to experience that as well — the quickness of seeing something while driving by, the quickness of the changing light,” McAleer says. “My relationship with the subject, my breathing, my heartbeat — all of what’s happening to me on the inside is also happening on the outside by a kind of mediation, a high while enjoying the flow of the paint.”

Come fierce wind or rain, McAleer still paints — and sometimes at his best. “I often favor the ones that had to be quick because of rain or bitter, cold, heavy wind,” he says. “It’s because I have to show you real quick about my experience. But I never have a favorite for very long before a new one comes along.”

The public is invited to celebrate McAleer’s opening night on Saturday, June 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. with wine, food and music. The exhibition runs through July 12. For more information, visit

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