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The Zen of Red Trees, Gardens, and Seabirds

The Zen of Red Trees, Gardens, and Seabirds - Cape Cod LIFE July 1990 |

Anne MacAdam standing in front of an early work which hangs in her private gallery. Photograph by Edwina A. Halsey

She speaks of working into these paintings until they seem to take on a life of their own and begin to reveal themselves to her. This is the moment of the “gift” that she refers to often in talking of The Red Tree and of her other major works. Anne feels that when a work reaches that level, she has been granted a trust, and it becomes her role to simply fulfill it. Her single concern is to not betray that trust by her unwillingness or an inability to do whatever the work requires. All of her training, experience, and study are seen as merely preparing herself for these rare periods of “transparent realization.”

On a sketching trip to Vermont, in snow and freezing temperatures, such a trust was not given to her. She realized that what she was working on could never be more than a simple “picture.” With a band of blue across the top and a strip of green across the bottom, it would immediately be labeled a “landscape,” and most people would look no further. She gave it no more of her time; yet, in her journal for that day she wrote, “Still, it is a beautiful day, and I would rather be here doing what I am trying to do than anything else I have ever done before.”

The Garden of Suzanne Sinaiko #3, a 22″ x 21″ canvas, is a painting she loves fervently. In it she deliberately put a vertical element dead center and swirled the composition around it with such vigorous sweeping curves that you are not aware of the center focus at all. You rotate around it. The composition’s dynamics back you up. It pulls and pushes you, plays with you and draws you into the back garden and shifts you, again, to the front. Though you may think you know where you are going, it will shift you around another curve and return you to a place you didn’t expect to be. The canvas is rich with colors and compositional expression.

This painting was first exhibited at Bayer Fine Arts when it opened for the 1989 season but was listed as “not for sale.” When 26 people indicated an interest in buying this piece, Sam Hardison, owner and director of the gallery, contacted Anne. They decided it was time for her to do a show. That September, when everything was ready for hanging, they met to set prices. The 1988 Garden was sold that night. “It’s hard to believe that this show of 19 works was produced by one artist in such a short time,” Sam says of Anne. “When her exhibition was in here, the gallery was alive with an expression of creativity. So much of what art is about was in that room.” Her show was a near sell-out in the first two days.

The 1989 Garden painting is a larger canvas, 36″ x 34″. Again, it exhibits a complex compositional vigor, but the mood is entirely different. This is an open, warm, and enveloping world. It welcomes you into its center with a broad path leading to the middle distance. The great cascades of flowers and foliage surround and embrace you. The eye is invited to wander many paths and is rewarded at every turn, but the center is a place of great peace and beauty. It was purchased immediately after the gallery opened. Anne says, “It is the painting I most regret selling so soon. It was like losing a child you never got to know.”

Anne is intense when she speaks. “The wonderful part of art is that everything you do is new, there is always discovery. You have to keep looking for a better way, a solution that will be more perfect, more transparent to the meaning, to the feeling. I am always trying to get the painting to vibrate to my feelings – like a tuning fork – so that my feelings and the painting become symbiotic, become one.”

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