Steel sculpture to clayBy Ann Luongo | Photography by Jack Foley
A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a Master of Fine Arts degree from Central Michigan University, Plymouth’s Sean Cassidy has been creating art for close to 30 years and he’s never felt more passionate about his work.
Oils are Cassidy’s chosen medium, and the human figure is his muse. He is known for his contemporary portraits, which are painted atop aerial map images. Part of his “Historic Origins” series, the images have a mosaic-like appearance. “The map and the portrait are intertwined and create a metaphor about origins and how it connects us to the place,” says Cassidy. “The oil paint is applied in a transparent layer to reveal these associations between the portrait and the map. The portraits examine a characteristic or quality that each individual exemplifies through the use of specific application and style of brush marks.”
The south Plymouth resident is also a dedicated teacher. Cassidy teaches art at Bridgewater State University, Quincy College, the Cape Cod Art Association and at his home studio. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife, Virnaliza, and his daughter, Tessa. Cassidy is a juried member of the Copley Society of Art in Boston, the Cape Cod Art Association and the Plymouth Guild for the Arts.
Photographer Ronald Wilson has traveled the globe in pursuit of scenic subject matter. However, he finds just as many photographic opportunities at home in Plymouth. “There are miles of trails in Myles Standish State Forest, a barrier beach and salt marsh in Ellisville Harbor State Park and many other sites, from Wildlands Trust and The Nature Conservancy to historic sites like the Jenney Grist Mill,” says Wilson. His method, which he calls The Art of Seeing, evokes the ability to notice beauty in something that others might not. The sharp contrast of a sand dune against an azure sky or the details of lily pads floating in a pond—these are things people might normally walk right by, or appreciate in a big-picture sense. Wilson’s landscape images capture the detail and the magic of local places.
A gallery artist at Plymouth Center for the Arts and the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset, Wilson tries to approach his art with the sensibility of a painter. “When someone says my photographs look like paintings, I take that as a compliment,” says Wilson. His images are printed on Fuji Crystal Archive material, which allows the detail, tonal range and color saturation to far surpass traditionally reproduced images. Wilson leads photography workshops on the art of landscape photography in partnership with the Cape Cod Art Association and he takes part in many art shows each year. Last year, he walked away with the North River Arts Society’s “Best in Photography” award for his “Paine’s Creek Beach” image.
Wilson first opened a gallery in Plymouth in 2008, with pastel artist Anne Heywood, and four years later he moved into a space in the Plymouth Post Office building. In September of 2016, Wilson relocated his gallery to an antique building across the street from the historic Mayflower Society. His new studio has water views and is open by appointment, or by chance. “Making a living as I do through my photography doesn’t allow for much free time,” Wilson says. “This is a job and I work at it every day. Fortunately, I love what I do and it has never felt like a job.”
orn in Kenya and educated in Tanzania and England, mixed-media artist Judy Quinn’s body of work showcases her love for photography and oil painting. Quinn moved to the United States in 1965 and has been involved with art, in one form or another, her entire life.
“When my children were young I studied at Project Inc. in Cambridge,” says Quinn. “I learned photography and old-fashioned developing and printing in a darkroom.” She later studied printmaking at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln and papermaking at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. “I never liked the photo paper that images are typically printed on, so I began creating my own,” says Quinn. She is known for her creative compositions that combine photographic, printmaking and papermaking techniques with paint and encaustic wax. “It is hard to pick one medium over another,” says Quinn. “My time in the darkroom is precious, as is learning newer photographic skills with Photoshop and fooling with my iPhone and iPad. But I also love to spend an entire day painting in my studio.”
Quinn’s paintings are always a surprise, even to her. “There’s really no plan in place. I just see what happens,” says Quinn. Her crow paintings, for example, are inspired by her many feathered visitors. “We have a lot of crows around my house,” says Quinn, who lives with her husband in the scenic Ellisville area of town. “I know there are people that don’t really like crows, but I love them.” The birds have inspired many sessions at Quinn’s studio, which is located in the Waterworks Building at 26 Howland Street. Visitors can schedule a visit or can drop by and visit.
Kit Reardon has been playing with clay since she was a kid on her grandmother’s farm and had her first real pottery lesson in her early 20s, when she signed up for a class at the Boston Center for Continuing Education. Reardon dabbled in the craft after moving to Plymouth, inspired by conversations with Lois Atherton, the resident potter and museum curator at the Richard Sparrow House, but her daily commute to Boston for work limited her abilities to pursue her art with any seriousness. It wasn’t until 2014, when Reardon officially retired from a 35-year career in life insurance, that she was free to give her dream a go. Six months later, she purchased her first pottery wheel and soon after she acquired two kilns, a second wheel and other accouterments—and Clay Hill Pottery was born.
It was during this time that Reardon discovered the Plymouth Center for the Arts and started taking pottery classes from South Shore potter Don Whitney. “My classes with Don have been among my most rewarding,” she says. “Plymouth Center for the Arts is one of Plymouth’s hidden jewels.”
Reardon appreciates the physical, tactile nature of pottery and the unlimited versatility of the medium. “What better combination: kinetic energy, a piece of the earth and the endless possibilities of imagination?” She makes bowls, mugs and tankards, but her favorite projects are covered vessels such as urns, jars and small pots. “I enjoy the challenge of creating a vessel that can be used as a cremation urn. I put a lot of effort into these works and it means a lot to me that they will be treasured by someone.” Reardon and her husband, Ken, live and maintain her Clay Hill Pottery studio in a 170-year-old home on River Street, close to Plimoth Plantation. It’s a realization of a 30-year-old dream. “Each piece of work is like a new romance. Not everything goes to plan when you dare to experiment and test your ability. There can be surprise and disappointment, but it’s always exhilarating.”
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In 1977, with degrees in art and sociology and a master’s degree in fine arts in his pocket, metal sculptor Douglass Gray landed a job with Plymouth’s Park Department that required him to put his art on the back burner. “At that time, I didn’t realize that it would be over 30 years before I could get back to my work in sculpture,” says Gray. He never gave up on the desire to work in sculpture, but it wasn’t until 2012 that he was able to return to his art.
Gray says his approach to steel sculpture has a softer persona than it did before his hiatus, with more curvilinear elements such as arcs and circles. “Steel has both lyrical and stoic qualities,” says Gray. “The apparent cold, hard qualities of the material can be softened by its form, the way light plays across the surfaces and the warmth of the patina. Most, if not all of my sculptures rely on a positive and negative space design concept.”
The inspiration for Gray’s creations comes from different sources. “Most, if not all, of my recent pieces are centered on a thought or feeling or represent a personal statement,” says Gray. “Also important are the ever-changing shadows that occur within or around each piece. The fact that most of my pieces can be shown inside or outside is exciting to me because of the changing persona that they take on, depending on the surrounding environment and light.” He gets a sense of satisfaction from both the work envisioning the sculptures and the actual physical effort required to bring his ideas to life.
Aside from the 10 years Gray spent out of state for school, he has lived and worked in Plymouth his entire life. He is a member of the Plymouth Center for the Arts, North River Art Society, Cape Cod Art Association, Falmouth Art Center and New England Sculptors Association. He loves the challenge of submitting to regional and national juried art shows and competing with other artists. He also owns and operates Billington Sea Kayak and can often be found paddling local waters.