New Oxbow exhibit explores how pandemic changed artistic process

  • “Chaos,” an acrylic painting on canvas by Mary Witt.  Photo courtesy of Oxbow Gallery

  • Artist Chris Serra’s “Untitled” sculpture, welded and painted steel and concrete. Photo courtesy of Oxbow Gallery

  • “A Nebula” by artist Jeffrey Gillis. Photo courtesy of Oxbow Gallery

  • “George Floyd,” an oil-on-panel painting by artist Joanne Holtje, is featured in Oxbow’s September exhibit.  Photo courtesy of Oxbow Gallery

Staff Writer
Published: 8/18/2020 10:56:05 AM

After more than four months of being closed to the public, Northampton’s Oxbow Gallery will be reopening with limited hours starting Sept. 4. The gallery will showcase an exhibit titled “Evolving in Chaos,” which features new work by gallery member artists responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Elizabeth Meyersohn, a local artist and member of the 40-member cooperative gallery, said although Oxbow Gallery has been shuttered, that hasn’t stopped art from being displayed in the space through a series of window exhibitions.

“The gallery itself was closed, but what’s kind of nice is that we had these shows in the window,” she said. “So if you ever drove by, you’d see that every couple of weeks a different artist would have a show in the window … It was all that we could do, seeing as everything was shut down.”

Meyersohn said the gallery is a place where local artists have created a community since it opened in 2004. But with the pandemic, artists with Oxbow haven’t been able to connect with one another through exhibits and events.

“Each of these artists will have a story about how they handled making their work during the pandemic and what the relationship is between the work they’re showing at this show versus shows they’ve had previously at the Oxbow,” said the artist, who wasn’t allowed to work out of her Easthampton art studio for the first several months of the pandemic. That changed the work she created.

“First I was horrified by that, ‘How can I not go to my studio?’” she said. “I paint in oils a lot, so I ended up doing water-based work on my kitchen table for two months. The restriction of the pandemic created very interesting work.”

Mary Witt, another member of the gallery, is an abstract acrylic painter whose work “Chaos” is featured in the September exhibit.

“It’s very exciting,” she said about Oxbow’s reopening. “We had our annual meeting recently outside, socially distanced, and most of the people in the gallery came. We really got to feel the energy of excitement, being in person together and talking about the details.”

For Witt, being able to interact with a range of gallery artists, from landscape painters to sculptors and quilters, is invaluable.

“Everyone has different roles in the gallery, but really everyone can be themselves and be involved with communicating with other people in the gallery or just doing their own thing,” she said. “But most of the people show up for openings and support each other.”

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com. Oxbow Gallery is located at 273 Pleasant St. in Northampton. The gallery’s new COVID-19 hours will be Friday 4-7 p.m. and Saturday 3 t-6 p.m., as well as Sunday 2-5 p.m. For more information about Oxbow visit, oxbowgallery.org.


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