Germain Brings Sarasota Touch To Baker Museum

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BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY MAR 25, 2016

For the past five years, the Baker Museum at Artis-Naples has through its Florida Contemporary series sought to showcase visual art innovations in technique, medium, subject matter and composition throughout the state, hosting an annual juried exhibition of work from select artists. Fielding close to 200 submissions this past year, only 16 were chosen, including Sarasota’s own painter and sculptor Gay Germain, who saw three of her four submitted paintings accepted into the exhibition by the Baker judges. And while the paintings themselves are enough to grab the eye, it’s perhaps Germain’s pioneering technique that demands the most attention.

An intriguing mix of hard edges and large geometric shapes next to softer, atmospheric fine line work and cross-hatching, the selected paintings come from Germain’s latest series, Sculpture Garden Conversations, a multi-media project including both wood and concrete sculpture. Working in acrylic and oil paints as well as graphite to achieve the clean look and delineating lines she envisioned proved a challenge.

“It was a lot of experimentation,” said Germain, who will not use tape or such assists in her creation as it “gets in the way.” Working on a canvas-wrapped wood panel, the artist turned to gesso – a hard compound often used as a base – to create a precision painting environment, applying ten coats and sanding the whole piece down between each one. “So by the time the tenth coat had been sanded, it felt like glass,” said Germain, and she was ready to start painting on her perfect surface. “It was a long, tedious situation, but it was worth it.”

Still a calculating process, Germain’s work makes deft use of white space, leaving great portions of the canvas untouched as counterpoint to the large black shapes that have almost become a trademark. “That creates the piece for me,” she said. “I have found a pleasure in being able to leave the white space and create shapes within that negative space.” As a result, Germain must be very careful to avoid stray marks, which cannot be obscured or even painted over, leaving a textural impact on the clean, smooth surface.

“It’s a good experience and I’m pleased to be a part of it,” said Germain of exhibiting at the Baker, reminding other artists to stay true to their vision, even if that vision seems as unconventional as her penchant for black shapes and fine lines. “I’ve been told that kind of thing doesn’t work,” she said. “Well it works for me.”

“Stay with your voice,” Germain continued. “You can always do different things with your voice, but that’s your voice.”

Currently on display at the Baker Museum at Artis-Naples Florida Contemporary 2016 and Germain’s work will be on display through April 20.

Pictured: Three selections from Germain's "Sculpture Garden Conversations" hang at the Baker Museum. Courtesy of the artist.

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