December 11, 2020 - January 23, 2021
December 11, 2020 - January 23, 2021
Finding pages from the past in the boxes. Poems that make sense. Finding a place, a home, a sacred spot.
-Elizabeth Enders, diary entry
Betty Cuningham Gallery is pleased to present Escape, an online exhibition of new work by Elizabeth Enders. Characteristically, Enders paints her daydreams of places of peace, tension, healing and joy. This body of work, completed during the Lockdown of 2020, takes us to Morocco, the fields of Provence, the cliffs of Ireland, the waterways of New York City, the Southwest and the New England seashore.
The days are spreading into weeks. I have a room, a room filled with boxes, with no end in sight, with some order - my own order- trying to avoid or make sense of today.
So Enders writes in her daily diaries, a habit she has had since childhood. In the current exhibition, quotes from her diaries are placed alongside her paintings and watercolors providing a pathway to understanding the sources of her work.
Excerpts from Enders' Diary
Finding a new path. lt's a grey morning. Geese fly over in formation. lt is fall now. This is the time to organize. Paint, but don't forget the boxes. Try to be peaceful. Don't forget it is serious and it is true. Don't forget, it's a bad virus. Stay safe and wear a mask.
Painting, thinking, writing. The smells, the sounds, the expectation and the danger. Finding something familiar, remembering the task and the time it takes. Remembering another spot, beautiful but past.
Be hopeful, too, and begin once again.
The Mussenden Temple was built in the late eighteenth century by Frederick Hervey, the Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol. The Temple, used by the owner as a library, is dramatically perched on the edge of a cliff on the coast of Northern Ireland. The building has become one of the most photographed monuments in the country, as the basalt cliff that supports the structure has eroded over the centuries and the Temple is now perilously close to the edge of the cliff and the crashing Atlantic Ocean below. In 1998, the Temple was listed on the World Monuments Watch and the World Monuments Fund stabilized the structure’s foundation, ensuring its safety for at least a century.
Enders was first made aware of the Mussenden Temple when she received a card that featured it from the World Monument Fund in 1998. Enders was instantly captivated by the beauty of the location and held on to the card for over 20 years, knowing that one day the Temple would make its way into her work.
The US Naval Hospital Ship Comfort was deployed to New York City to ease the burden on stressed local hospitals, desperately attempting to fight COVID-19. On March 30, 2020, the Comfort sailed into New York Harbor to much fanfare and celebration and docked at Pier 90 where it stayed for nearly a month. During its deployment in NYC, the hospital ship treated nearly 200 people.
Following New York's strict quarantine orders, Enders watched the naval ships sail in to New York Harbor from the safety of her living room, on her television. As a longtime NYC resident, Enders followed the story very closely and instantly commemorated the moment in watercolor and ink.
Legzira is a beach found on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast, made famous by its large archway that adorns the beach. During sunset, the sun shines directly on the rock archway, illuminating its red hue. There used to be two archways at Legzira, however one suddenly collapsed in September 2016 due to sustained erosion.
Enders first learned about Legzira Beach from a travel magazine that she was leafing through during a stay at a hotel. She was mesmerized. The colors of the clay and sand were so sumptuous - "I just had to paint it!"
In early March 2020, Lesley University's College of Art and Design mounted a retrospective of Enders' work. The exhibition included paintings and works on paper spanning the artist’s career from her abstract paintings of the 1970s through to her most recent series investigating the coast and landscape of Nova Scotia. Like so many other exhibitions this year, the show was cut short by the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Enders' light touch, combined with the way she utilizes the dryness of oil paint, for instance - or the more liquescent aspects of watercolor - anchors her best works firmly in the present, even as her subjects recede into the past or disappear over the horizon.
-Canada Choate, Artforum 2020
Elizabeth Enders was born in 1939 in New London, CT. In 1962, she graduated with a B.A. from Connecticut College and in 1987 she received her M.A. from New York University. Enders has been exhibiting her work since the 1960s. Her recent exhibitions include Landscape/Language/Line at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum; Life Line, the Art of Elizabeth Enders at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA; Painting…Place Elizabeth Enders at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax; and Come In! a joint exhibition between the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT and Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT. Her work is included in the collections of the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Canada; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; Colby College Art Museum, Waterville, ME; the Detroit Institute of Arts, MI; the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT; Frances Young Tang Museum, Saratoga, NY; the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; the New Britain Museum of American Art, CT; the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; and the Whitney Museum, New York, NY, among others.