David Vickery: The Poetry of Place

By Carl Little

The painter David Vickery explores space: outdoor, indoor, around, above, across, beyond. He is equally expert at representing the parlor and the panorama, the intimate and the out there.

Vickery also loves light. There is a remarkable array on display here, from the glow of candles during a power outage to the luminosity of the night sky.

Off Black Head
Off Black Head (Monhegan)
Night Wharf (Monhegan)
Night Wharf (Monhegan)

In 1993, Vickery made his first trip to Monhegan as a Carina House artist in residence. He has returned on numerous occasions, drawn to favorite motifs like Gull Rock, but also bent on exploring new subject matter. A pair of lawn mowers caught his attention during a 2011 stay. Turning away from the Rockwell Kent views of the island, the painter captured the handsome machines parked in a weedy lot on Monhegan.

With its curling piece of yellow paper, Vickery’s Message Board recalls the trompe-l’oeil arrangements of such 19th-century painters as William Michael Harnett. Where Harnett and company focused on illusion, however, Vickery is more interested in the poetry of place, the why and where of this carefully realized piece of Maine.

Vickery-Message-Board-IJSITE
Message Board
Clam Digger
Clam Digger

The painter’s home corner of Maine—the Cushing peninsula in the midcoast where he has lived since 1991—seems to nourish realism. Alan Magee, Lois Dodd, and Nancy Wissemann-Widrig offer a rich variety of representational imagery, to which Vickery contributes his own special four-season vision.

In writing about his work, Vickery notes his tendency to integrate the natural world with the man-made. Going a step further in this self-assessment, the painter points to a need “to reconcile the inner, psychological world with the outer world of everyday experience and optical fact.”

Such reconciliation is, paradoxically perhaps, often the source of the compelling intrigue found in Vickery’s paintings: the empty wharf bathed in artificial light, the lobster boat anchored in the lee of a dark island. In melding the within and the without, the artist leads us to a fresh perspective on the world we look at every day.

Fales Winter
Fales Winter
Day Trippers
Day Trippers
Descent
Descent
John's Wharf II
John’s Wharf II
Recessional
Recessional
Monhegan Mowers
Monhegan Mowers