Pastoral scenes by Scott Moran debut at Déjà Vu Gallery
The island’s quiet splendor takes center stage in a new collection of oil paintings by Scott Moran, set to open at Déjà Vu Gallery on Aug. 24.
A gardener by trade, Moran connects with the landscape on a visceral level, looking to the past to capture the source of Block Island’s venerable beauty. The collection’s central piece, for example, casts an artful eye on a hard-won potato harvest. “It represents everything that island life used to be,” Moran said.
The large-scale painting was inspired by a photograph from 1906 included in the paperback book, “Images of America: Block Island.” Moran’s adaptation utilizes muted, moody shades for the land, farmhands and cattle, with an optimistic cerulean sky overhead. “In that last fall harvest, you’re pulling out what will sustain you for the winter. It’s very significant,” he said.
From there, Moran’s work evolved into atmospheric representations of the island’s past and present: the Great Salt Pond, Littlefield Field, Legion Way and others. “The collection is made up of little snippets — scenes that are sunny and morose simultaneously,” he says. “And it’s not just about the land; it’s about the sky and the scene and the mood. A painting is just a vehicle to showcase atmosphere.”
In league with the Impressionist tradition, Moran works up the canvas with thick strokes and a deliberate, yet delicate, impasto effect. “It’s layered as it is in nature; that sky exists behind and through a tree,” he says. “Same with the ground. It needs to be built from dirt and grass.” Moran often blends in shades of gray to shift the mood in unexpected places, like a gray-blue sea in an otherwise blithe, sunlit dunes scene.
Although the potato farmers of Block Island’s past spurred his latest collection, Moran cites Déjà Vu Gallery owners Marie-Eve Guindon, Ray Ordway and David Flamand as his greatest motivation to create. “If there’s any catalyst, it would be them,” Moran says. “Everyone said for years since Mary [Newhouse] passed that there’s been a gap and a hole,” he said. “These guys went in there and made this little alcove of wonder. They’re reviving, waking up and revitalizing the arts community on Block Island.”
The public is invited to celebrate Moran’s opening night with music, wine and cheese at Déjà Vu Gallery, located next door to Eli’s Restaurant on Chapel Street, on Saturday, Aug. 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibition runs through Sept. 6 during regular gallery hours, Sun.–Fri. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit dejavugallerybi.com for more information.