She waits for the “golden hour,” though sometimes it may last only 60 seconds. It’s that time when nature brings light and shapes and colors together, creating a magical, otherworldly scene. It was during one particularly spectacular “golden hour” in 2002 that Sherry Rhyno, dining with her husband and some friends, raised a glass to the spectacle Mother Nature had conjured and said, “I want to paint that.”
With encouragement from her husband, John, Rhyno retired early from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where she had a 30-year career, including stints as dean of students and the university’s first marketing director, and embarked on a new life as a painter—and then a painter/gallery owner.
Considering her accomplishments in academia, it is not surprising Rhyno enjoyed success relatively quickly in the art world. “If I participate, I go gung-ho,” she says. In 2008 she was asked to join the cooperative Gallery 31 in Orleans; four years later she became Gallery 31 Fine Art’s sole proprietor. She enjoys interacting with painters and customers in a special way. “I see through an artist’s eyes,” she says, identifying with the plight of the painter, while offering customers insight from the other side of the easel.
While she enjoys running the gallery and she’s proud of having helped UMass-Boston grow, Rhyno describes painting as “almost a spiritual pursuit.” She likes the timelessness of certain subject matter. “I especially like Cape Cod’s landscape, and because we’re on a peninsula, the way the light reflects off the water,” she says. Her landscapes tend to show solitary spots: a sandy path leading over a dune or an empty bench at an overlook. “I don’t tend to paint overly dramatic movement, like waves in a storm,” she says. Working in oil and pastels, Rhyno first looks for big shapes in a scene, and then imagines the composition using line, color and texture to lead the viewer’s eye in, then up and around.
Rhyno’s still lifes make up for her landscapes’ silence. Situated well forward in the picture plane, her tight compositions force the viewer to intimately engage the subject. With sometimes heavy layers of paint applied with a knife and complementary colors and contrasting values, her still lifes show the drama in the Cape’s smaller objects, in contrast to the peacefulness of her vistas.
Sherry Rhyno is represented by Gallery 31 Fine Art, 34 Main Street, Orleans. More information on the artist can be found at gallery31capecod.com.