While interior designer Ingunn Joergensen was turning to the celebrated London Bloomsbury Group for inspiration to remake a stone potting shed featured in our May/June issue (“Bloomsbury Recalled,”), another creative mind was looking to the American equivalent of the informal think tank for his muse.
Artist Ray Salter’s recently mounted solo exhibition Portraits at Gateway Arts Gallery in Brookline, Massachusetts, is a collection of his expressive portrayals of the literati who were part of the American Bloomsbury Group. Like its British counterpart, the group was a loose collective of writers, intellectuals, and artists, who shared a passion for the exchange of creative ideas. Among them were some of the literary lights of the 19th century, including naturalist, author, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, novelist Louisa May Alcott, and essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, all of whom are part of Salter’s series of portraits. But Salter moves beyond the “official” circle of the Concord, Massachusetts, based salon of Transcendental neighbors and friends to include other thinkers of the period such as Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe.
In his portraits, Salter uses charcoal, oil, and acrylic in a deliberate impressionistic style that evokes the bohemian sensibility that both Bloomsbury Groups assumed. Salter’s art conveys a convivial sense of spontaneity right up to his unapologetic smudges that only enforce the adventurous spirit of exploration of knowledge and art that inspired his subjects.
Salter’s thoughtful portraits, done on stiff silt cardboard, are on display through August 31 at Gateway’s second-floor gallery, with an artist’s reception on Thursday, July 25 from 5 to 7 p.m.
About Gateway Arts: Now celebrating its 40th Anniversary, Gateway Arts is a non-profit studio art center for artists with disabilities. A service of Vinfen Corp., a provider of human services for individuals with disabilities, Gateway serves more than 100 artists and includes studios, a gallery, and a craft store. Artists receive 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their work.
Portraits, Gateway Arts Gallery, 60– 62 Harvard Street, Brookline, Massachusetts; gatewayarts.org.