Exhibition Dates: January 11 - March 9, 2023
Opening Reception: AHA! Night, Thursday February 9, 6 to 8 pm
Snow Date: Thursday, February 16, 6 to 8 pm
Location: University Art Gallery at Star Store Campus, 715 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA 02740
Exhibition curated by Viera Levitt
Introductory text by Lasse Antonsen
Gallery Hours: 9 am - 6 pm daily, closed on major holidays; Open until 9 pm during AHA! Nights (second Thursday of every month)
All events are free and open to the public.
UMass Dartmouth’s College of Visual and Performing Arts is proud to present Moment to Moment, an exhibition by New Bedford-based artist Pat Coomey Thornton in the University Art Gallery from January 11 through March 9, 2023. The opening reception with artist talk is planned for Thursday, February 9, 6 to 8 pm at the University Art Gallery at Star Store Campus, 715 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA 02740 with a snow date of Thursday, February 16, 6 to 8 pm. Light refreshments will be served.
This exhibition, created specifically for UMass Dartmouth, presents abstract oil paintings and gouaches on paper created between the years 2011 and 2023. The artist invites us to enter the world of rich layers of vibrant colors, changing “moment to moment” from a darker and heavier palette to a brighter and more optimistic one, offering quiet meditation, but also tension, beauty, chaos, exuberance. The titles offer an entrance to the visitor’s musings about the meaning of the work, but also suggest a gravity of the story or feeling behind them, such as oil paintings Unexpected, 2022 or Four Stages Plus One, 2022 that refer to the artist's recently diagnosed health condition.
About her paintings, Coomey Thornton says, “moments, instances, unexpected encounters and events in our everyday life are a constant source of inspiration and content for my work. I seize upon nuances from my surroundings and life as points of departure, simplify shapes to suggest their recognizable relatives, and I hope to generate more than one interpretation. Line is important in my artworks and I envision it as a generative, time-based element. I attempt to weave together a surface of elements to create energy, tempo, and spatial relationships.”
The art historian and former UMass Dartmouth Gallery Director Lasse Antonsen notes in the exhibition’s introductory text: “[an] encounter with Pat Coomey Thornton’s art is so special. It is an encounter with an abstract world, and it is alive. It performs, and it invites us to engage. The encounter is an open experience. The paintings call on our own experiences of gardens, trees, flowers and light. This is visual thinking, and a poetics of emotions, of anxieties, of delight. In this experience we realize that we observe, that we see. The mind is stilled, and our senses are enriched. In Pat Coomey Thornton’s art, beauty is transmitted as a world of possibilities, a world of changes, a world of tenderness and sadness, and a world of joy.”
Coomey Thornton adds, “I try to capture a sense of fleeting time, a glimpse of parts that suggest the whole, and the energy of a continuum. I hope to create a work where color, texture, and mark offer the observer an absorbing entrance to their own experiences and thoughts.”
Viera Levitt, the exhibition curator, added that the show “is a visual treat for every gallery visitor and a tribute to the boundless energy, curiosity and generosity that Pat shares with New Bedford and with the world around her.”
Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to “share their moment” by photographing a favorite detail of Pat Coomey Thornton’s paintings and posting on social media using the hashtag #findmymoment and tagging @umassdartmouthgalleries.
The exhibition was curated by Viera Levitt with introductory text from Lasse Antonsen.
Pat Coomey Thornton was born and raised in Worcester, MA. She graduated from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, with a BFA and Pius XII Institute, Florence, Italy, with an MFA in Painting. Pat taught studio courses at the School of the Worcester Art Museum from 1970 to 1980 before marrying fellow painter, John Havens Thornton (1933-2021) and moving to Boston and then New Bedford. She has shown her work in the Boston area and South Coast MA., including the Rose Art Museum, the Fuller Art Museum, Boston Center for the Arts, New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks, and galleries in Boston, Worcester, New Bedford area, and Providence, RI. Coomey Thornton was also a Massachusetts Artist Foundation Painting and Drawing Finalist. She worked in Arts Administration at Rhode Island School of Design before retiring.