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ARTBORETUM: creative cultivations

The combined work of Shawndavid Berry, Virginia Purviance, and Rachel Brask call up garden-inspired artwork in ARTBORETUM. Purviance's assemblages, collages and paintings are themes and variations of the landscape of her mind -- gardens of whimsical thoughts. Berry's work is rooted in the earthy practice of bringing out beauty through carved tree branches, stumps, and roots. Brask's textured oil paintings of abstracted rainy views water the soil of these creations.

SHAWNDAVID BERRY: Artist's Statement

Striving to find balance between the harshness of functionality and the warmth of layered chaos. I offer my work as example.

Through a complete understanding of my materials and each action/reaction they have. One can paint within or organize the chaotic natures of each. Wood will react to water, some oils but also many minerals, those minerals react differently to heat, sun, cold and so forth.

In my work I use: 

Found windfall or driftwood, which I mill myself.

Glass and sea glass found while thinking

Metal, generally from scrap

With these materials and 15 years in the trades as well as an instructor, I bring many views of work and how to accomplish a true experience of a piece.

In a piece thought must be given to use and how it will suit. To fit a piece to ones needs a understanding of anatomy, both standard as well as abnormal. Understanding the processes of treatment of physical difficulties has given me many insights as to treatment through design. In design one treats the wood as is, once a living being and it will relate in the same way.

Within design is finding that which stirs ones soul and bringing it forth, taming the madness. The madness is the part which “feels”, channeling this is key. Combining the physical requirements, function, form, as well as madness into a physical form to stimulate a balance of one is what I wish to bring.


RACHEL BRASK: Artist's Statement

When you look out through a window on a rainy day -- what do you see? A rainy window intrigues me. When I look through one during a rain storm, I study how the sheets of rain pouring down the panes causes distortion of the view outside. The rain flow abstracts the lens through which an observer sees the outside world in that moment. Colors blend together, articulated lines and shapes become blurred, and the motion of the continuing rain makes the scene even more dynamic. I embrace the rain and all that will be refreshed wth hope and possibility. In these moments, I’m reminded of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, that these colors, these moments, “...all this illuminated by the rain.” 

Through these oil paintings on canvas, I seek to capture a single abstracted moment between a rainy day and its observer; between a moment in reality and its abstract experience. In the process of creating these images, I chose to use oil paint because of its slow drying time, incorporating a hefty mass of stand oil, allowing gravity to continue its work on the paintings long after I’ve stepped away from the easel -- pulling the colors and paint with it as it continued its slow descent down the surface of the canvas. 

I want viewers to notice the changes in color throughout the scene. I’d like for them to look at the texture of the surface, to imagine themselves in that particular rainy moment. Even after the paint has dried, the evidence of these drips have become suspended in motion, frozen in the gradual downward crawl determined by gravity. The viscous texture of this drip beckons the viewer in to experience the feeling of this rainy moment, making tactile the tangible.

VIRGINIA PURVIANCE: Artist's Statement

The work presented in this exhibit is a kind of story-telling, a response to the collecting that I have been doing for as long as I can remember. 

It is a kind of story to be interpreted as the viewer wishes. What happens is intuitive, spontaneous and improvisational. 

I suspend planning, wait for courage to put it out there, hoping that it is something to look at and feel something about. 

Artists create extensions of themselves.  This is me.

Artist’s Bio

Interior Landscape and Floral Designer (1978-1993)

Landscape Designer (1992-2008)

I retired as a landscape designer in 2008, returned to my own garden and eventually began exploring anew drawing and painting. 

My inspiration comes from the following teachers:

Studied at the Coleman Center, Newport Art Museum (Encaustic Painting with Margo Rubin, Pastel Painting with Jeanne Tangney) 

Wickford Art Association (Figure Drawing with Bill Heydt, Collage with Clare Bowen, Pastel with Jeanne Tangney, Charcoal with Kathy Hodge) 

Beach Studios, Oil Painting Anne Cordin Wilson

Jamestown Art Center, Acrylic Painting with Theresa Girard and Kevin Gilmore, 

DeBlois Gallery exhibited my encaustics in 2011.  I am honored to be back again.




March - December Gallery Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 1 - 5 pm
134 Aquidneck Avenue
Middletown, RI 02842

401.847.9977