Generation to Generation
Introduction by Carey Vose
As gallerists that ate, slept, and breathed American art during the work week, my parents, Bill and Marcia, would often whisk me and my sister Beth off to experience even more art adventures on weekends. We would jump in the car and travel around New England, visiting museum curators, artists, fellow art dealers, as well as several historic artists’ colonies within a four-hour radius of Boston. My parents personally collected paintings by the artists who had worked at these colonies, as both teachers and students, focusing on the early American Impressionists. These unforgettable places, and the colorful cast of characters we encountered along the way, have left an indelible impression on me.
When I joined the family business in 2001, my mother and I decided that we would resume handling contemporary realist paintings after a forty-year hiatus – my grandfather, preferring deceased artists because they did not ‘talk back,’ stopped representing living painters in 1960. I actually enjoy spirited dialogues with artists, so it was exciting to once again showcase the works of New England painters and sculptors, as my great-great-grandfather, Seth Morton Vose, had done as far back as the 1850s. We wanted to exhibit artists who had mastered the traditional methods, but were applying them in unique new ways.
Sitting at my desk one day, I struck up a very interesting conversation with a visitor who was extremely knowledgeable about the historic American painters we had on view. He waxed ecstatic about the unbelievable talent of American masters such as Winslow Homer, Willard Metcalf, and Frederick Judd Waugh, as well as some of their more obscure contemporaries, including William Bicknell and Julian Alden Weir. He confided that he had first visited the gallery as an art student in 1977; after departing early from a field trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art on Boylston Street during a performance piece that failed to interest him, he had wandered into Vose Galleries and discovered a treasure trove of 19th and early 20th century paintings, which motivated and shaped his own work. The artist I was speaking with was Don Demers. In the years following our first meeting, we have hosted four exhibitions of his paintings and we are proud to have the ability to showcase his talents alongside many of the artistic ‘heroes’ that inspired him.
The idea that Don should revisit a number of the historic artists’ colonies across the United States was a natural one. I was curious to see how he would capture the sights and sounds of these settings, as I have seen hundreds of examples by his predecessors who painted and interpreted them in their own ways. In looking at the works in this exhibition, it is almost as if American masters such as John Twachtman, Willard Metcalf, George Inness, and Julian Alden Weir were standing beside him, helping to imbue each canvas with a sense of place. Don has an instinctual way of going beyond just the visual and invoking all the senses into his compositions in order to communicate the spirit of the experience of that particular moment in time.
Don and his partner Jackie have become close friends of ours, and we have spent time with them up in Maine each August in recent years. I am thrilled that I have been able to provide my son Jake some of the same amazing experiences that I did at his age, which hopefully he will cherish as much as I have for many years to come.
His close affiliation with the ocean remains an ever-present theme in his works, whether it be the rocky coast and endless waterways of New England, or the golden coast of California. His marine and seascape paintings have been featured in American Artist Magazine, Yachting Magazine, Nautical Quarterly, Nautical World, Offshore Magazine, Maine Boats and Harbor, and Marine Painting: Techniques of Modern Masters.
"You can almost smell the seaweed and tidal pools in Don Demers' ‘Cadence of the Coast’. Or taste the salt spray in 'Surf and the Sisters' painted from Bass Rocks in Gloucester. Or hear the conversations carry on the soft summer breezes in 'Leisure in the Gardens' in Boston. Don’s ability to evoke a response from the viewer, to go beyond literal representation, is a feat few artists achieve."
Inspired by History
"Willard Metcalf, you could not find a greater, more accomplished landscape painter than he...Frederick Judd Waugh with the power of the sea...I was so hungry - voracious...for the imagery and to see what it all meant...George Inness, Theodore Robinson...and that's what led me to wanting to focus a lot of my attention on the art colonies in America...I have had a plethora of inspiration coming from these heroes that I've been witnessing all these years. It's a real joy to have them as mentors."
Throughout his career, Don has studied and learned from great artists of the past. He drew on N.C. Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, and Frank Schoonover during his time as an illustrator, for their graphic intelligence and their ability to convey a story and subsequent emotions through a static painting. His land- and seascape paintings have been informed by a myriad of artists, including Andrew Wyeth, Julian Alden Weir, Willard Metcalf, John Henry Twachtman, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, and Frederick Judd Waugh. From them, he learned to see beyond his physical settings to the underlying essence, and to capture his personal interpretation. He was inspired by the artists he has studied throughout his career - to follow in their footsteps and venture to the historic art colonies of the United States.
Don's masterful approach to painting is revealed in a series of plein air transcriptions of the sites that have inspired artists for generations. He embraces the unique qualities of each setting and seeks to capture the atmosphere and mood of his firsthand experience, while being cognizant of their role in art history.
In addition to the many private collectors who own Demers' work, his clients include American Airlines and the National Park Service. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists, an elected member of the Salmagundi Club and the California Art Club, and a signature member of the Plein Air Painters of America. He has won an award from the Crystal Cove Invitational in Orange County, California, two awards from the Artist Renewal Center International Competition, three awards from the Laguna Plein Air Invitational, including Best in Show, four awards from the Society of Illustrators, New York City, and a record twenty-one awards from the Mystic International Marine Art Exhibition in Mystic, Connecticut. He has also conducted numerous workshops and lectures around the world.
'Coast to Coast: American Art Colonies Revisited' will be viewable online & in the gallery November 16th - December 28th, 2023.
238 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116 - (617) 536-6176 email@example.com www.vosegalleries.com
Digital Catalog Design: Molly S. Lynch
Writing: Courtney S. Kopplin & Molly S. Lynch
Editing: Carey L. Vose
Photography & Videography: Gabriel J. Chevalier
© 2023 Vose Galleries, LLC. Rights reserved. The right to copy, photograph or reproduce the works of art identified herein is reserved by Donald Demers.