Finding a new angle
Spruce Head — Marylin Quint-Rose has done her share of traveling, both in time — she’s been a practicing artist for more than 60 years — and geography, visiting and sometimes living in other countries.
“I don’t travel like I used to,” she said, but the current show she shares with painter Lauren Gill at Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor begs to differ.
Quint-Rose, as she signs her work, lives in Spruce Head, in a light-filled home created by a builder who went on to turn a Portland department store into the Maine College of Art. Her latest “journey,” which filled a chunk of her studio on the first day of October, began in another part of the house.
“I was lolling in bed and I had an epiphany! I was going to take one of my small collages and translate it into a major picture on canvas,” she said.
Plying paint and brush in this traditional way is not something Quint-Rose had done in years. A well-respected abstract paper sculptor and collage artist, she has built a career working with paper, a medium she began to explore while in grad school at Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. Of late, she has been creating works with paper pulp egg crating she gets from Bowden’s Egg Farm in Waldoboro. One bulbous work-in-progress rises about four feet in the studio, while a finished and shown work in the corner of her dining room exerts an asteroid-like presence.
“It’s bad enough I’m a sculptor; what I do is abstraction! A lot of people don’t understand abstraction and they don’t want to,” she said.
“I don’t look at things as ‘an abstract idea’; that’s just basically how I think,” she added.
Plenty of people have understood her work, however, which has been shown internationally and is collected by several corporations and museums including the Portland Museum of Art. In 1992, Quint-Rose was one of only 10 Americans selected to show at the Leopold-Hoesch Museum in Duren, Germany, a paper art museum. In 2004, she spent several days sharing her work at universities in Pakistan, a Rotary adventure that came out of friendship and has led to continuing connection to the country and its people.
In contrast to the sturdy solidity of her eggcrate-based sculptures, Quint-Rose has produced numerous small collages using Color-aid and handmade papers, skillfully torn and placed to create delicate images. Some evoke the many lands she has seen, while others delineate views of things she imagines.
“It’s all in my mind; I don’t know where it comes from,” said Quint-Rose as she rifled through boxes of work bound for the library.
Actually, the 86-year-old artist does have an idea of where it comes from … and she thinks it is something everyone, whatever his or her form of expression, has access to.
“We all have these scraps, accumulations of our lives’ experiences, to work with,” she said.
Part of Quint-Rose’s life’s work has been mentoring and encouraging others to explore and achieve. Warren sculptor Jay Sawyer, whose “Ridin’ the Rails to Rockland” she helped unveil this summer, is among those whom she has mentored.
Quint-Rose was born in Boston, where her father was a Newbury Street florist. She attended Saturday classes at the Museum of Fine Arts and has a very clear memory of seeing her first example of abstraction, a Picasso. She earned an education degree at Wheelock College and taught at the School of the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. Two of her children, a photographer son and writer daughter, live in the Cambridge, Mass., area; another daughter lives in Asheville, N.C., and is a late-to-it painter.
“She’s 60 and just became an artist,” said Quint-Rose, proudly pulling out a binder of photos of Janis P. Rose’s images, as well as a best-of-show photo by her son.
Quint-Rose spent years leading workshops and residencies in design, collage and papermaking for children and adults throughout New England, as well as guest lecturing at the university level. These days, she is more focused on working in her studio and communicating with others about the artistic process.
“The teaching has slacked off and in a sense it’s good; I’m free to do what I’m going to do,” she said.
Until she had that in-bed epiphany, she likely didn’t think what she was going to do included painting. But after handyman Scott Tilton made a 7-by-4-foot frame and stretched canvas on it for her, she spent a week in her studio — which has a large, long worktable — painting what turned out to be a very big translation of a very small collage. The “Pennies From Heaven” works can be viewed side-by-side at the library, which will host a reception for both Quint-Rose and Gill Friday, Oct. 11, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Quint-Rose said she is somewhat amazed at this new development, pointing out places where she attempted to replicate torn edges of paper in paint.
“I don’t know anyone who is a collagist doing this,” she said, adding she has already asked Tilton to make her a few more canvases.
Not that she is abandoning her lifetime affair with paper. Included in the show is a not-that-abstract bit of whimsy titled “Jimmies Dairy Dream,” which combines a real ice cream cone and jimmies with paper and paint. And there is that evolving eggcrate piece in her studio.
“I work by layering, then putting aside … it’s contemplative, and sometimes I go very deep,” she said.
As to when this, and any work, is finished, Quint-Rose has learned through her long journey not to predict.
“It won’t flow when it isn’t ready and will when it is,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s hard to be patient!”
The Jackson Memorial Library show runs through Nov. 11. All works are for sale, with the library receiving a 30 percent commission.
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for almost 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.