Stone from Delphi, Water from Rome

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Opening tonight at Gurari Collections in Boston, “Stone from Delphi” features a series of astonishing watercolors by Wendy Artin, produced for and inspired by a collection of poems by Seamus Heaney. Artin, who currently serves as the Artistic Advisor at the American Academy in Rome, has work in museums and important private collections around the world. Heaney passed away in August after a long and celebrated career as a poet and author.

“At the recommendation of the American artist Eric Fischl, Wendy Artin was invited by Arion Press to enter into a conversation with Heaney’s writing,” says the gallery. “Responding visually to a text was a first for Artin.”

Artin explains, “I never intended to translate Heaney’s extraordinary verse into images. Instead, just as his verse was inspired by the myths recounted by the classical beholder, I searched for inspiration in the classical statues representing the mythological characters. My sources were the statues of Antiquity, whose elegant forms breathe with light and shadow, and the spread of pigment-stained water over the page.

“The images of the statues I had painted and drawn all my life in museums around the world returned to mind. For the book with relish I re-painted, to scale, some of my favorite statues – the Nereid Galatea, the Maenad of the Campidoglio, the Ludovisi Throne Aphrodite. I seized the opportunity to paint statues I had always admired but never quite gotten to – Actaeon, Venus de Milo, the Laocoon as Jupiter in despair. Other characters, such as Charon of the river Styx, were harder to find, and through researching them I found scores of fantastic statues I had yet to paint.”

Even after she completed the commission for Arion, she continued with the series. “I came across so many enticing subjects while researching imagery for Heaney’s verse that I simply had to keep going. My goal was to try to find the right balance between heavy and light, strength and fluidity. I wanted the paintings to be abstract and then click into focus.”

“Stone from Delphi” runs through November 31 at Gurari Collections, 460 Harrison Avenue, Boston, 617-367-9800. Opening reception is this evening, November 1, 6-9 PM. Stone from Delphi by Seamus Heaney, with paintings by Wendy Artin, is available from Arion Press.

Franklin Einspruch is a Boston-based artist and writer. He blogs at

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