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January 21, 2020

7/30/2015 11:09:00 AM
art current: Megan Chase at Chase's Daily
Megan Chase, “White Flowers,” 2014, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 in.
Megan Chase, “White Flowers,” 2014, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 in.
Sometimes more of the same still can never be enough. That's how I feel about Megan Chase's paintings. It seems like I've seen the selection of paintings currently on view at Chase's Daily before. There are entire compositions that ring familiar. They are, of course, not the same. And, really looking at Chase's work is so richly rewarding, in such an immediate way, that one cannot help but love them all over again anyway.

Although the paintings adhere to the traditions of floral still lifes and landscapes, they do so with lively irreverence. Indoor and outdoor are often intertwined; consider what can only be a bouquet at the center of a view of fields. Some blooms take up the entire panel, and the spatial context of many arrangements remains unclear. One assumes them placed on a tabletop until one encounters the witty "Blue Take." A blue sleeve entering the composition suggests that the bunch of flowers is merely held, or being taken away, a note of movement usually absent in still lifes.

Although "This Field" comes closest to addressing how the plethora of flowers and vegetables came into being (there's a farm shed for shady work, planted fields, and another bouquet), one can take that rational explanation only so far. Just as the flowers and produce are not really identifiable, that is not the point. Chase's images evoke a dreamlike, enchanted world, governed by vibrant color and an upbeat mood.

While sticking to a relatively calm palette for the blooms in "White Flowers," a horror vacui governs its background full of patterns, stripes, and daubs. Most paintings lean more toward high-key versions of what the Nabis pursued using limited-value-range colors, patterning, flattening of space, and an appreciation of decorative qualities. "Last Hurrah," a panoramic view of fields, features right in its foreground an indistinctly delineated bunch of flowers, collapsing the entire concept of fore- and background.

Chase's paintings always break into kaleidoscopic facets. Their plethora of visual incidents never really coalesces into a unified whole, instead always insisting on a multitude of individual visual fireworks, one right next to the other. The works openly reveal that they were built up over long periods of time of adding and subtracting, with earlier elements only half-hidden. However, this honesty about their disjointed execution does not come across as being labored over. Instead, the works appear vibrantly alive, intuitively executed, yet obviously considered and reconsidered many times.

I have already said this in a previous column about Chase's work, but it cannot be overstated: The sensory stimulation provided by the stunningly gorgeous produce and flowers at Chase's Daily, brimming with nutrients and life force, as they are bundled and arranged artistically, is akin to the visual stimulation and exuberance of the paintings. Chase is, of course, co-owner of the restaurant and family farm providing it. Today it takes chutzpah to be so wildly enamored with nature's and agriculture's abundance. It takes a deep commitment on more than an artistic level. Chase's marks and color tell of this commitment, not her paintings' subjects. Hers is the kind of work that it is difficult to put words to. You have to experience it yourself, enjoy the direct, visceral response of joy it elicits.

"Megan Chase: Come What May" is on view through August 23 at Perimeter Gallery, Chase's Daily, 96 Main Street, Belfast, 338-0555.

art current is a biweekly column written by Britta Konau. She can be reached at

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