Three Encaustics Artists Will Be “Waxing into Winter” with Stunning Colors and Textures at Gallery Sitka in Fitchburg

With an opening on Saturday, Nov. 4, three fascinating local artists will present works all in the waxy medium of encaustic, yet each approaching it by way of her own distinctive aesthetic. Each artist has a different take on the possibilities of this remarkable medium.

Painter Kellie Weeks considers herself an abstract, not a representational, artist. Indeed her paintings are dynamic studies of pure color, light, and form. She has spent a number of years experimenting with various media but now is focusing on encaustics, incorporating dry pigments, metal leaf, shellac, and other materials. The medium gives her a means of expression of unsurpassed quality, depth, and brilliancy.

Ms. Weeks is continually seeking to make her insights into a transcendent world concrete and permanent, searching for what Mark Rothko called “an anecdote of the spirit.” As in her “Memory Series” of paintings, she explores the world of memories that undoubtedly change over time and which take on something of a life of their own in our dreams. The work seeks to express “what’s lost and what’s remembered,” that tension between our thoughts and feelings that may always be near the surface and those that may remain deep within us, influencing us in sometimes mysterious ways.

Paintings such as “A Place of Rest” indeed express harmony and balance, with the colors and shapes complementing each other. In other pictures, by contrast, various elements seem to be competing. “Holding Ground,” for example, seems to be the site of a battle among various shapes and colors. The artist appears to have dripped some pale yellow wax on top of already cured layers, but the little streams of yellow wax are somewhat jarringly horizontal, not vertical! Obviously at time of dripping the molten wax ran down from what at that stage must have been the top of the picture. Once it solidified, the finished painting showed us wax dripping “across” the canvas, not down, as it would have to do in a more mundane, predictable world. This defiance of gravity is audacious enough, but then stark, thick bands of yellow and red seem to be just as defiant and uncooperative. Even so, the lines are all encountering each other at right angles, all verticals and horizontals, so that a “logical” pattern seems to appear amid the chaos.

Ms. Weeks received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Bradford College in 2001. She has exhibited nationally in many juried and group shows, and in 2011 was included in a group show called “Imagination” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Jeanne Borofsky has a wonderful work ethic: “I like to have fun when I work,” she says. “Combining two of my favorite activities—folding origami and painting with wax, I construct images that explore the use and interaction of color with whimsical references to my dreams and fantasies.”

This is evident in some of the paintings she will be showing at this exhibition. A number of these involve the intricate origami structures that take on color and life from the hot wax layered overall. In the mix, various personalities—Ms. Borofsky likes to call them “creatures”—appear in unexpected places. In “Home Sweet Home,” for example, viewers may find two persons, one a giant and one a “normal”-sized person who nevertheless both seem to be creatures from another world. They don’t even seem quite at home in the castle itself, which is much more machine-like than organic, with various dials and ducts and main-boards showing (although some of the structure defies the techno-motif, plainly being made from tree branches).

In “City Block 1,” the structure appears to be literally a cube or a wood block but could also be a package, what with it carrying a postage stamp and a postmark superimposed. But once again the creatures so familiar to fans of Jeanne’s work appear. In this case it may be a diminutive brontosaurus poking its head out from the three pointed-roof houses that ride on top of the cube. Is this block meant to be stationary, a feature of the city—one block, to use another sense of the word, on the streetscape? Or is it a package, making its way all around the world, or anyway around the world of Jeanne’s imagination? One could make a case for both.