the art of Scott Prior
There is special place in our hearts for Western Massachusetts. We have raised our family and have been involved in the arts community in both the Berkshires and the Pioneer Valley for over thirty years. We have always felt a strong connection to Scott Prior’s work in part because of our connection to this place.
We invite you to reflect upon these paintings that strive to reach the ideal in our daily lives. We experience through Scott’s work the poetry of light and color and a sense of meditative tranquility that raises our consciousness. We are very honored to present this fantastic and beautiful body of works by Scott Prior. Jim Schantz and Kim Saul Spring 2011
Cabin in the Berkshires, 2010 8.5” x 8”, oil on panel
Front cover:Swimmers in the River, 2011 10” x 10”, oil on panel
Community Garden After Rain, 2005 11” x 26”, gouache on paper
Scott Prior at Schantz Galleries Seamlessly combining various art historical influences, Scott Prior’s paintings are appealingly timeless. In Prior we see precise 17th-century Flemish brushwork creating jewel-like finishes, treatment of light ennobling serene landscapes like a 19th-century Luminist, a Magic Realist weaving fantastical elements with exacting verisimilitude, and an Abstractionist’s shifting perspectives. Prior’s paintings are visually arresting, but not for beauty’s sake alone; they are subtly cerebral, but not overtly intellectual. They are tranquil and inviting, but within the sublime lingers the ironic. Epitomizing the best in contemporary art, they provoke both admiration and conversation. Living in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, it is easy to find inspiration in Nature’s wonders and life’s pleasures. But it is the artist’s purview to probe deeper, and for Prior this means depicting Nature’s majesty and life’s reality with a heightened acuity, wresting out life’s poignant moments and amplifying them, shining a mystic flashlight on our memories and our environment. Whether sweeping panoramas or familiar places (or more likely a little of both), Prior infuses his Nature paintings with literal and symbolic references to man. He has written that he sees the interaction between Nature and man “as being ironic, sometimes humorous, but always complementary.”
For instance, Window Still Life in Winter deftly positions man’s need to order nature against nature’s inability to be tamed. Vegetables and flowers taken inside and neatly organized with man-made objects are juxtaposed with the uncultivated terrain and vividly-colored sky just outside the window. Bringing nature into our lives brings beauty, as Prior demonstrates in this shimmering still life, but it cannot rival Nature’s unadulterated form. In Community Garden, man again acts as nature’s curator, but she is the talented and tempestuous artist. The garden glistens under nature’s grandiose gestures—the rich swath of setting sun and the large pines standing majestically in the background. An unoccupied pathway and bench offer a place from which to enjoy the garden, but also to notice the little green patches of earth on the path by which Nature has already begun to encroach on the garden. Metaphorically, the benches are a site for emotional and spiritual contemplation and the path an avenue to deeper understanding. We see more than just the scene before us; we get a glimpse of Eden.
“Life is not what one lived, but what One remembers and how One remembers it in order to recount it.” Two Chairs at Sunrise II deploys similar techniques by combining vivid naturalism (a fiery red sun casts autumnal warmth over the strewn leaves and burnt-orange trees) with cultivated artifice (potted geraniums, stone walls, empty chairs, and a casually abandoned red wagon). This painting is a family portrait without the people, vacancies which allow each viewer to insert themselves and their own memories into the scene. The liminal glow that lights this painting and the saturated hues that richly coat the canvas transform a realistic representation of a beautiful backyard into a layered and meaningful metaphor for family. Similarly, Cabin in the Berkshires literally radiates from within, beckoning us to settle inside and enjoy nature’s glorious vista from its safe confines. As with many of his paintings, Prior offsets his attention to detail with sfumato elements, as in the drifting clouds of this painting. Picnic Table in Winter is painted with such impeccable veracity, one can practically feel the cold air. But the bare trees are less precise, more cloaked in the painterly fog that Prior utilizes to evoke the sublime. The yellow sun augurs warmer times and with them an invitation to return to this spot. But an otherworldly light focused on the empty table encourages a more immediate and philosophical visit—to a nostalgic place of childhood picnics and family outings. The combination of lovingly rendered realistic elements and more dream-like and abstract accents, with the goal of intensifying the viewer’s emotional response to the painting, reflect Prior’s interest in Magic Realism.
Barbecue in Autumn, 2008 18” x 15”, oil on panel
Picnic Table in Winter, 2009 8.5” x 8”, oil on panel
Gabriel García Márquez, a literary proponent of Magic Realism, once said that “Life is not what one lived, but what One remembers and how One remembers it in order to recount it.” Like Garcia Marquez’s novels, Priors paintings commingle the real and the fantastic in an effort to access a more profound understanding of reality. The hyper-realistic Bonfire on the River conjures moments that, if not exactly lived, are nonetheless acutely remembered. We easily recognize the painting’s elements: the water, the beach, the bonfire. But more deeply we hope to remember its emotions: warmth, camaraderie, youthful abandon. Where nature falls short, the painter saturates color, heightens detail, exaggerates contrast, and manipulates light to make nature even more evocative and our glimpse of Eden a little more perfect. Jeanne Koles Jeanne Koles is an art historian who does writing for museums and the cultural sector in New England.
Bonfire on the River, 2009 12” x 12”, gouache on paper
Community Garden, 2007 30” x 34”, oil on panel
Window Still Life in Winter, 2006 54” x 72”, oil on canvas
Two Chairs at Sunrise, 2011 8.5” x 8”, oil on panel
Swimmer at Twilight, 2010 8.5” x 8”, oil on panel
Window Still Life in Autumn 2009-2011 34” x 50”, oil on canvas
the art of Scott Prior at Schantz Galleries
1949 1971 1974-76 1977 1979 1979-80 1985 1986
Born in Exeter, NH B.F.A., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA Residencies, MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH Residency, Ossabaw Island Program, GA Fellowship, Massachusetts Artists Foundation Residencies, MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH Grant, National Endowment for the Arts Award in Painting, St. Botolph Club, Boston, MA
American Express, New York, New York Boston Public Library W.C. Bradley Co., Columbus, Georgia Comptroller of the Currency, Washington, D.C. Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, Massachusetts DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts Fidelity Investments, Boston, Massachusetts Gardner, Carton and Douglas, Chicago, Illinois Graham Gund, Cambridge, Massachusetts IBM, New York, New York Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut New England Life, Boston, Massachusetts On Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts Ropes & Gray, Boston, Massachusetts Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York Texaco, White Planes, New York Wellington Management, Boston, Massachusetts Ruth and John D. West Collection, The Rahr-West Art Museum, Manitowic, Wisconsin William Brinks Olds Hofer Gilson & Loine, Chicago, Illinois
Backyard with Footbridge, 2007 15” x 13”, oil on panel
Fairgrounds at Twilight, 2011, 12” x 20”, oil on panel
2003 DeCordova Collects: Gifts from Stephen and Sybil Stone, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA 2002 Painting in Boston : 1950-2000, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA 2002 Changing Prospects: The View from Mount Holyoke, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, S. Hadley, MA 2001 Landscapes Seen and Imagined: Sense of Place, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA 2000 Figure, Fantasy and Illusion, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA 1999 Re-Presenting Representation IV, Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY 1998 Capturing the Sublime; Contemporary Landscape Painting, Fuller Museum of Art, Brockton, MA Valley Realists, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA New England Impressions, Painting from Life, Attleboro Museum, Attleboro, MA 1996-97 Community of Creativity: A Century of MacDowell Colony Artists, Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, and traveling exhibition to National Academy of Design, New York, NY and Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS Faces and Figure in Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA 1996 Reinventing Realism: Contemporary American Perspective, Everhart Museum, Scranton, PA 1994 The Label Show, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA 1993 SELF-aMUSEd The Contemporary 4rtist as Observer and Observed, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA 1991 The Object: Found, Observed, Imagined, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA Illustrating Nature-The Art of Botany, National Academy of Design, New York, NY 1988 Contemporary New England Portraits, Westfield State College, Westfield, MA 1987 New Work by Old Friends, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA The Beautiful, The Sublime, The Picturesque, Newton Arts Center, Newton, MA Survey-Eight, Zone Art Center, Springfield, MA 1986 Boston Collects, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA 1984 Urban Visions/Countryside Views, University Art Gallery, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH Emerging Massachusetts Painters, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA 1983 Eleven Alumni, Fine Arts Center Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 1982 A Private Vision: Contemporary Art from the Graham Gund Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA Herbert Plimpton Collection of Realist Art, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 1980 Directions in Realism, Danforth Museum, Framingham, MA Realism in New England, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 1979 Art of the State, Recipients of Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fellowships, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 1978 Art from Corporate Collections, Whitney Museum Downtown, New York, NY 1976 Patron’s Choice.- Artists Under 35, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA 1975 9th Annual Print Exhibition, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY 1973 New Talent in New England, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA a Schantz Galleries Publication Photos by Pivot Media Inc All images are copyright the artist
Window in June, 2009, 24” x 32”, oil on panel
the art of Scott Prior
Two Chairs at Sunset, 2011 9.5” x 9” oil on panel
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