Last chance to view MAA summer members show 

The Marblehead Arts Association welcomes the public to the historic King Hooper Mansion for its biannual summer members exhibit. The gallery, located on 8 Hooper St., hosts a varied collection of nearly 150 works available for purchase and viewing. The exhibit will close on August 6, making way for the MAA’s upcoming solo member shows. 

 ‘Blue Hill, Maine’ by Ray Crane is a hyper-realistic oil painting
included in the ‘fine arts’ category of the exhibit.

The MAA is celebrating its 101st birthday and the legacies of many of its long-standing members, some of whom have been in the association for half a century, with a vibrant exhibit incorporating as many styles and mediums as years it has been around. Though the artwork includes everything from oil paint to fiberglass, the submitted pieces generally fall into one of four genres: fine art, 3D art, sculpture and photography. The gallery contains a healthy mix of categories — a byproduct of the numerous and artistically-diverse body of featured members. 

To become a member of the MAA, an artist must be juried in by preexisting members by submitting five personal pieces for consideration. In recent years, the MAA has become increasingly open to new styles and techniques, allowing it to host a show with a little something for everyone. The MAA’s Director of Operations Xhazzie Kindle commented that the variety of work that comes in for each member show never fails to surprise her. 

“You know, you get used to an artist doing a very specific type of thing… and then they’ll bring in something completely new,” she told the Current. “We see them grow, we see them take chances and be really brave, which is really amazing.” 

Although the members exhibit has no required theme, climate and location certainly inspired several popular motifs. From hyper-realistic portraits of sailboats on serene waters to a massive fiberglass portrait of a blue gorilla, the artwork at first glance seems too varied to tie together. However, when asked what theme she would assign to the open exhibit, Kindle was quick to sum it up. 

‘Fall into Winter’, by Douglas Johnson, utilizes tiny beads to render a complex image.

“I’d say nature. Especially in the summer, a lot of the pieces seem to be landscapes, food or more about the natural world.” Sure enough, many of the pieces incorporate warm natural colors, depictions of wildlife and inspiration from the great outdoors.

Common subjects – such as oceanscapes, abstract art and even birds —  are often grouped by room, allowing viewers to focus on one idea at a time. A quick detour from the members exhibit brings one to the Cushman Gallery, proudly decorated by the works of young artists from the Acorn Gallery, and the Painting the Town exhibit. The product of a collaboration between the MAA and the Festival of Arts, Painting the Town displays the work of artists tasked to paint scenes from the town in the same stretch of time, resulting in a collection of views of Marblehead seen through different eyes sharing the same sunny weather. 

Once an artist becomes a member, they can apply to have a six-week solo show. During their time, the MAA encourages artists to make the Hooper Mansion their ‘second home,’ by hosting workshops, events and even having lunch in the galleries with their friends. The MAA is currently preparing to host seven upcoming solo shows once the members exhibit is over. Of the unsold work from the current show, several pieces will be selected to go on to a small satellite exhibit at the YMCA to receive additional exposure.

‘Dappled Light’ by Patricia Scialo uses the technique of encaustic photography by applying wax on top of black and white portraits.

Despite the many challenges the building offers for staging galleries – such as the many windows and abundance of pesky natural light — the MAA has made the mansion its home and put it to good use. It strives to make the home base a true community space by hosting workshops, gallery openings, and fundraisers. Even the back garden and basement ‘tavern’ are open for public use. Looking forward, the MAA is open to incorporating events outside the jurisdiction of visual art, such as book readings and poetry nights. For now, it encourages all Marbleheaders to come view exhibits or experience them online at, in the hopes that they can support their artists and perhaps even inspire a few new ones. 

Benji Boyd
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