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John Dyer at Meibohm Fine Arts

"Dough Boy" by John Dyer.

A Brush With Madness

Stepping into the exhibit spaces of the house-turned-art-gallery at 478 Main Street in East Aurora, I am reminded of my early years spent in the rooms of the Phillips Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Art shown at Meibohm has that same “engaged with the space effect,” with chairs, rugs, and drapes all contributing to the sense of a habited place.

Currently the gallery hosts the oil on linen canvases of John Dyer, an award- winning painter exhibiting since 1967. He last showed his work at Meibohm in 2005.

His images are finely detailed, minutely observed expressions of a time and place, referencing his personal recollections in scenes of nature and interior spaces. From a postcard-sized image, Dough Boy, a sunlit grass cemetery plot, to Rime Frost Near Sabattis, (a lake in The Adirondack named after a famous Abnaki native guide) at 36 inches by 42 inches, Dyer presents a full range of scale that invites a viewer’s leisurely examination of his masterful painting technique. Dyer’s instructive influences are of the first rank of landscape painters: Thomas Cole, of the 19th-century Hudson River School; James Whistler, especially in the Bermuda themed works; and the Wyeths, father and son. Like any longtime painter, Dyer has absorbed his forebears’ pictorial particulars with an admiring grace. His work is assured and definitive most clearly in the landscape vistas where his brush- scumbled clouds give majestic character to his reveries of the natural world. He depicts the middle distance of a rising wooded terrain in the fine shadings of atmospheric diffusion. In another closely observed scene, light falls on a stand of birches illuminating bark, leaves, and the delicate lichen attached to the rock face behind.

Historically, landscapes are the closest art form to true theater. Rocks and trees are like characters in a play built on the proscenium of the horizon. Dyer invests all his paintings with the mad intensity of a stage director, casting each natural form in an ensemble role and giving the viewer an invitation to pause and witness his convincing deceptions.

Dyer’s exhibit runs through May 28.

j. tim raymond

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