Cahoon Museum of American Art

photo © 1996 Paul Murphy, Hyannis, MA

Cotuit, MA



Making Spirits Bright: The World of Jayne Shelley-Pierce


The Cahoon Museum of American Art will present "Making Spirits Bright: The World of Jayne Shelley-Pierce" from Nov. 14 through Dec. 30, 2000. Light-hearted, imaginative and witty, the lovingly detailed primitive paintings of Jayne Shelley-Pierce are the perfect enhancement to the holiday season. The artist, who lives in Centerville, finds her material in the small, quirky incidents of everyday life; in the community spirit of the Cape's villages; and, as often as not, in the denizens of the Canine Kingdom.

Of the approximately two dozen paintings in the exhibit, about one-third concern dogs. Often, they're engaging in very undoglike behavior, as in "Hockey Pups," in which they're playing a very relaxed game of hockey, and in "Dogwood," in which they're doing their holiday shopping. In "The Arrangement," a long-faced Airedale is dressed up and posed like Whistler's mother in the famous painting "Arrangement in Gray and Black: The Artist's Mother." Shelley-Pierce got the idea for "Couch Potatoes" while watching the Westminster Kennel Club's Dog Show on TV in February. She started laughing when she realized the sharp contrast between the well-groomed dogs on the screen and the dogs lazily sprawled amidst their toys in her own living room. "It was so typical of armchair athletes," she says. (left: Dogwood, acrylic on canvas)

Several pieces relate to the Cahoon Museum and to the late primitive artists Ralph and Martha Cahoon, for whom the museum is named. For one painting, "Mr. Cahoon's Balloons," Shelley-Pierce copied a Ralph Cahoon painting of a sky filled with elaborate air balloons. Then, she took the artistic license of adding the artist himself on the ground, painting his own scene. Other paintings in the show get the maximum amount of fun per brushstroke out of a Fourth of July parade and a Victorian bathroom.

Shelley-Pierce is a favorite at the Cahoon.Museum, where she previously had a one-person show in 1996 and has been represented in eight other exhibitions since 1990. Since 1991, she has had one-person shows annually at the Osterville gallery Birdsey on the Cape. Her dog paintings have brightened the covers of many issues of The Pet Gazette newspaper.

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