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Train Journey 2019

  • Greenhut Galleries 146 Middle Street Portland, ME, 04101 United States (map)

Alison Rector’s solo exhibit of oil paintings inspired by a train journey will be on exhibit at Greenhut Galleries in August 2019.

You’re invited to an opening reception at the gallery on Thursday August 8, 5pm to 7pm.

On the evening of Wednesday August 14, Greenhut Galleries presents a special music event “Train Songs” in connection with Alison’s exhibit. The artist will be speaking about her work along with musical performances by Bennett Konesni and Edith Gawler. All are welcome to attend this free event.

For more information, contact Greenhut Galleries, 207-772-2693 or read this Portland Press Herald feature story Alison Rector shows America from the seat of a train

Greenhut Galleries is located at 146 Middle Street in the Old Port section of Portland.

Alison writes about her work for this exhibit:

In 2018 work responsibilities required me to travel from my home in mid-coast Maine to Rochester New York.  Air travel options were inconvenient and expensive.  I didn’t want to drive.  Instead I decided to make my transportation choice into a visual adventure on the train. 

 Amtrak’s residency program for writers had long been on my radar.   Amtrak granted writers access to train travel as inspiration for writing. (The program has now been replaced by Amtrak’s Social Media Residency).) What if I took the train from Maine to Rochester?  Could I create my own visual arts residency on the train?

 Trains have facilitated transitions for me in the past, reliably pairing transportation with time for deep thinking.  When I moved as a young adult from the east coast to California, I arrived in Oakland by rail after a 3-day coach journey from Chicago.  The rocking motion and the meditative rush outside the window mesmerized me.  Since then I’ve sought train travel in many parts of the world: with my husband across the width of China from Shanghai to Xinjiang, dissecting southern India, between many European cities.  Countless trips up and down Amtrak’s Eastern Corridor have transported me since childhood. 

“There is absolutely no reason to take the train across the United States”, writer Caity Weaver begins her recent essay in the NY Times Magazine,  “but I did it anyway.  Her March 2019 story about cross-country train travel titled We’re all in This Together appeared as I was deep in studio work for this show.  Trains provide “a chance to look behind the American scrim” writes Weaver,  “to learn where the nation makes and stores the hidden parts that run it, to find new places you wish you had been born, to spy on backyards and high school football fields whose possible existence had never occurred to you.”

Train fare from Boston South Station to Rochester’s Union Station cost $46, a bargain.  I expected the Lake Shore Limited route would be visually rich.  I’d just finished work on a long-term painting project inspired by 19th century industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s legacy of public library buildings. Train travel through New England’s industrial past seemed like a logical next step.  The journey out of Boston across the width of Massachusetts into New York winds over rivers through forests and farmland, piercing small city centers.  We passed empty warehouses, tangled backyards, bridge underpasses, old manufacturing sites, all interspersed with recent changes to the landscape like solar farms.  The train journey fueled me as I’d hoped;  the 15 paintings in this show are inspired by that trip on the Lake Shore Limited and beyond.

I hope you’ll join me at Greenhut Galleries on Wednesday evening August 14 when musicians Bennett Konesni and Edith Gawler present a program of train songs in the gallery.