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Aug 18, 2017







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Courtesy photo.




Cafe Life 

Where: East Gallery of Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, 136 State St., Portsmouth
When: Aug. 2 through Aug. 26. Gallery hours are Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. 
Meet the artists: Murray and Woodward will be at the gallery for a meet-and-greet on Fridays, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25, from 4 to 8 p.m. 
Visit: nhartassociation.org




Art over coffee
Portsmouth gallery shows art depicting cafe scenes

08/10/17
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



 Friends Peggy Murray and Debra Woodward were sitting in a cafe last fall, talking art. Murray, a painter, was looking for her next source of inspiration. Woodward, a photographer, had booked a gallery for August but didn’t know yet what kind of show she wanted to feature. As they sipped their cappuccinos and looked around at the people in the cafe, they had an idea. 

“Peggy said she loved painting people in cafes, and I said I loved photographing people in cafes and that some of my best photos have been taken in cafes,” Woodward said. “That’s when we both looked at each other and said, ‘This could be a show.’” 
For the next eight months they visited cafes, painting and photographing the people and things they saw there. The result is “Cafe Life,” an art show housed at the Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery in Portsmouth, open now through Aug. 26. Around 28 pieces are featured, including color oil paintings and black and white photos depicting scenes from Seacoast cafes and cafes all over the U.S. and Europe. 
“There’s one where I was walking down the street in Paris at night and I saw a guy at a cafe sitting all alone looking really dejected. I stood across the street and started shooting, and on the bottom right of the shot you can see a pair of feet leaving, so it looks like someone just left,” Woodward said. “I wanted to capture that moment and the feeling of how he felt.” 
Murray said she and Woodward wanted the contrast between the color in the paintings and the black and white of the photos to create an engaging and impactful collection. 
“It’s a nice experience for the viewer,” she said. “It allows the viewer’s eye to rest, like a palate-cleanser, by alternating the black and white with the colorful pieces of art. Each enhances the experience for the other.” 
The structural contrast generated by using two different media, Murray added, allows the viewer to experience the cafe scenes in different ways. 
“Deb captures the emotional quality and the inner life of people,” she said, “whereas I’m not so concerned about making [the painting] look exactly like [the people] or about showing their emotions. My point is about the figures and about showing how a figure fits within a space.” 
Even though Murray’s and Woodward’s art differs visually, the inspiration and drive behind it comes from the same place. As cafe-goers themselves, they make it a point to empathize with their subjects; they see themselves in their work, Woodward said, and they hope that others do as well. 
“What we’d like people to see is the universality of the whole thing,” she said. “It shows that people are the same all over the world. … Whether it’s to have some solitude and read a book, to go out with friends and talk and enjoy music, or even just to be in the company of other people and maybe meet new people, everyone loves going to cafes for the same reasons.”





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