On view: Friday, April 6 – Thursday, May 3, 2018

Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 6-8PM

Artist Talk: Thursday, April 26, 6-7 PM


The New Art Center is pleased to present Weightless, an exhibition featuring work by Martha Brill, James Varnum, and Sharon Whitham. Using diverse materials, including acrylics, inks, and watercolors, these three artists create work that explores stark contrasts – of place, material, and spirit.

(left to right) Martha Brill, Nebula Series #5 (2017), acrylic and India ink, 20” x 16”; James Varnum, Desert Pool (2016), watercolor and ink on TerraSkin, 16” x 20”; Sharon Whitham, Rock Meditation #1 (2015), monotype, oil on paper, 30” x 20”


The work in this exhibition was created by three NAC students, each occupied with stark contrasts – of place, material, and spirit. Martha Brill explores space and place on both the macro and the micro level. Her Nebula Series paintings explore the vastness of the universe and the world of distant galaxies, while her Habitat Series of small wooden houses represents the world we can control and design. Experimental watercolorist James Varnum uses a variety of materials and tools, such as bubble wrap, salt, squeegees and combs, to create texture and move pigment across his compositions. He finishes with lines and marks in ink or graphite, emphasizing the topography of each painting. Sharon Whitham focuses on the paradox of permanence and impermanence in her monotype prints of stone cairns. The translucent piles of balanced rock achieve a weightless transcendence that simultaneously lifts and grounds our spirits.


Martha Brill is a painter and mixed media artist. She holds a B.A. in English from Tufts University, and has studied a variety of media and techniques – including drawing, design, watercolor, mixed media painting, collage, and sculpture – at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, the DeCordova Museum School, the New Art Center, and the Concord Art Association. Her work has been exhibited in Massachusetts, at locations including the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA; Concord Public Library (solo exhibition) and the Concord Art Association in Concord, MA; Grace Chapel Art Gallery in Lexington, MA; the New Art Center in Newton; and the DeCordova Museum School Gallery in Lincoln, MA, among others.

James Varnum is an experimental watercolor painter. He has studied art in both Boston and San Francisco, and holds a B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. He also holds a M.Ed. from the University of New Hampshire and a M.S. in Communication Disorders from Emerson College, and worked first as a classroom teacher and later as a Speech Language Pathologist. During the thirty-plus years of his professional life, he kept up his creative side by taking art classes through various continuing education organizations. Upon retiring, Varnum began to pursue art professionally again, and is now an active artist in Newton, MA. He is the current president of the Newton Art Association, and a member of several other art associations. He actively exhibits his artwork in the area, and takes classes at the New Art Center.

Sharon Whitham is a printmaker and a mixed-media artist who spends part of the year working out of her studio in Boston, and nearly half the year on Great Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine. She majored in Fine Arts at Ramapo College of New Jersey, and holds a B.S. in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an Ed. M. in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University. She has studied a variety of media – including printmaking, mixed media, Chinese calligraphy, encaustic monotypes, and painting – at the New Art Center in Newton, MA; the DeCordova Museum School in Lincoln, MA; the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA; and at Fabrica la Aurora in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico. Whitham’s work is shown regularly throughout the New England area, where she also teaches printmaking workshops.


This year’s Holzwasser Gallery selections were made by juror Sarah Montross, Associate Curator at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. Prior to her work at the DeCordova, Montross was the Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine. Her other professional experiences includes positions at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as well as teaching jobs at New York University and Hunter College, New York.