Whitney Knapp Bowditch ~ Paintings of Block Island


Variation, scale and surface are striking features of Whitney Knapp Bowditch’s new exhibition ‘Paintings of Block Island’ on-line and in the Jessie Edwards Gallery from July 5th – July 16th. These 28 new works have something for everyone whether you are a first time viewer or longtime collector of this well-known and respected artist. After painting these scenes for many years now, Bowditchs own challenge for this exhibition was to paint with not only a new eye but also a new feeling. As with all of Whitney’s work, her love of place shines through whatever scene she is capturing. In this latest body of work we are treated to views which are familiar but with a different feel or light so we are experiencing something truly special and unique. The way she captures the mood at different times of day allows us to develop a felt sense and an almost 3-D perception of being in the scene. These works have atmosphere and the environments are enticing and welcoming and remind us again why we love this place as we do. All her works, sizing in range from the smallest at 5×7” to the largest at 30×40” are in oil and rendered on paper, canvas or wood.


Evening, Dunns Cart Way, an 8.5×11.5” oil on paper, is a somewhat quirky composition which delights the viewer. The wind-blown tree to the right is such a common sight here on this wind-swept island and the invitation to the viewer is to wander down through the field to the beach below, to witness the light changing as the sun starts to set into the sea. That there is no clear path doesn’t matter. The freedom to walk through the fields harks back to a time when we had less structure in our lives and more time to explore and follow our own path.

The sky in Inlet Reflections, an 8.25×11.25” oil on paper, is almost wholly seen as a reflection although we get a hint of it on the horizon, just past town. This familiar scene of one of the inner harbor ponds, reminds us of the diversity not only of the land but also of the water. The reflected light picks up nuances that are often fleeting and therefore missed as we bike over this bridge or drive past it on our way to the beach. Although the bridge is not a structure in the painting, we know we are on it, looking out and perhaps looking into the water to see what treasures are in the currents below.

The sunny day and blue sky feel of Passageway, an 8×11.25” oil on paper, provides us with multiple focal points. Robert Frost and his poem, The Road Not Taken, were very much in mind as the artist worked on this piece. We come to a crossroads, open white gate on one side of a dirt road and a standing stone on the other, and wonder which way we will go. The road to the right most definitely will lead us to the water, to the ocean on the west side of the island; while we are not sure where the road to the left will take us. Which way do you choose? To the known? Or unknown?

The ethereal light in Early Morning, Block Island, an 18×24” oil on canvas, is so inviting and evocative it is the kind of morning we would get up early just to see and experience. The magic of morning light and how it transforms the color of rock, sky and clay is memorable and this piece captures that feel perfectly.

Water is a favorite subject for this artist and we are treated to a number of paintings in this exhibition which portray the boundaries of this land: the ocean. Bowditch is compelling in her rendering of the sea and Out to Sea, an oil on wood 8” round piece, has us as viewer through a porthole on the ferry, watching as we transit in open ocean. The asymmetrical balance of this piece has us positioned such that we can see one stream of the boat wake as we watch the moon rise in the distance. Being on the water is a perfect place to be as the day winds down.

We are so excited with this exhibition and look forward to welcoming you in the Gallery and on-line. If you are a fan of Whitney’s work you won’t want to miss seeing these paintings in person. You can find us upstairs in the iconic Post Office Building in Old Harbor. Our hours are 10am-5pm Monday’s, Wednesday – Saturday and 11am-4pm Sunday’s. We are closed Tuesdays and open other times by appointment.