Joel Babb "The Nature of Things"

  • September 21, 2016

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Joel Babb's first solo show at Greenhut Galleries entitled "The Nature of Things" will be held from October 6th to the 29th. His opening reception is Thursday, October 6th from 5-8pm. His artist talk will be held at Greenhut on October 22nd starting at 1pm.


The Nature of Things is Joel Babb's first solo exhibition at Greenhut Galleries.  Babb began painting the Maine coast in 1975, during construction of his house and studio in Sumner, Maine. After discovering Mount Desert, he would visit the island in all seasons, painting that coastline as well. But eventually, Babb lost his zest for painting the storied coast of Maine, feeling it had been depicted so frequently it was no longer possible for him to see it as it really is. So, for a time, he stopped, though he did continue painting nature in the woods and brooks nearby.


For the past several years, Babb has returned to Acadia, finding new inspiration in the epic confrontation of sea, granite, pine, and clouds. He states, "It is as if the Maine woods were being ground away to the foundations by this meeting with the sea.  When the water is calm, the shoreline is still evocative of storms of unimaginable scale.  I love the architectonic structure of the rocks, and the opposing movement of the water as if resentful of the rigidity, the sway of light and atmosphere over everything."


"The Lucretian vision of eternal forces and elements interacting comes to life for me in Mount Desert, in the geology, the weather, and especially the action of the sea with the land.  I've visited Acadia the day after a hurricane passed through and climbed Cadillac Mountain the day after an ice storm in February. Once on a foggy morning, I startled a deer herd on Ocean Drive, and when I stopped at my spot to continue a painting, long spider webs across the road told me I was the first to pass that way. No matter how many visit Acadia, nature is still the impressive narrative."


Babb is equally known for his urban views. In his book, Nature & Culture:  The Art of Joel Babb, Carl Little writes, "He divides his time between country and city, continuing to explore both places even as he builds on his repertoire of subjects. . . .For Babb, realism represents a philosophy of art.  As such, he says, the realist painter is constantly discovering 'new understandings new realizations' of the mysteries of existence.  'Realism as a philosophy,' he muses 'suggests that a small corner of the universe, when rightly observed, may open up universal laws in action.' A modern day Thoreau."


Joel Babb is a graduate of Princeton and the Boston Museum School, where he taught for several years. He has also taught at Tufts and Harvard universities.


His paintings have been exhibited in many museums and galleries throughout the Northeast and are in numerous prestigious corporate collections and in several museums, including the Fogg Museum of Harvard University and the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA.


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Greenhut Galleries

146 Middle Street
Portland  ME  04101