It’s been a couple years since Roberta’s last December 2020 Artimusi interview when we posted a few of her paintings and a music video. She’s since created more paintings in yet a different style from her studio/gallery located in Monson, Maine.
Artimusi. Comparing earlier objective-expressionist works with new nonobjective-abstraction, have you continued painting in the “Fiddleheads” style or have you moved onto something else? What’s the history there?
Roberta. I did a brief series on the “Clams Around the Campfire” theme. Then onto another series, “Complicated Woods” in 2019, followed by Fiddleheads, something quite different in a mostly abstract style. My most recent abstract-expressionist series last year, 2021, is the Cabin in the Woods.
Artimusi. What is the meaning of the clams (mollusks) in some of your earlier paintings?
Roberta. I had fantasized about moving from Gloucester, a fishing town in Massachusetts, to sitting around the campfire in inland Maine. The clam colors were brought over from some earlier paintings I’d done through 2014. Over time, the concept became less meaningful, though the clams had peculiar, humanoid shapes I enjoyed working with that would later influence my venture into non-objective abstraction.
Artimusi. What is the Complicated Woods series?
Roberta. The busyness of the woods obscured by trees, branches, and leaves and being unable to distinguish one thing from another brings to my mind how much of life is obscured, often hidden and private. The woods represent these complexities with their secrets that I perceive as the inconspicuous culture of Maine. Overall, I did about a dozen Complicated Woods paintings. The Cabin in the Woods series followed.
Artimusi. What’s the story with the new Cabin in the Woods series?
Roberta. The Cabin in the Woods, a new painting series, was inspired by a “gesture” folk song of the same name—“Little cabin in the woods, little man by the window stood…”
Artimusi. Are there any other folk songs that inspired your paintings?
Roberta. The rhyme—“Three, six, nine, the goose drank wine.”
Artimusi. You have a lot of animals in the newer paintings. They look very mysterious. What can you tell us about the animals in these paintings.
Roberta. After “Fiddleheads,” and “Complicated Woods,” I did some quirky animal paintings—vultures, crows, and rabbits. Then onto more serious, abstract-expressionist paintings that included squirrels, rabbits in woods, geese, and other creatures, some with toy bow & arrows, and toy guns—my take on the cabin song.
Artimusi. What are some other elements?
Roberta. Later, I integrated rockets and airplanes at one point, in part due to a 2021 article in Maine I read regarding a rocket launch site planned somewhere on the Maine coast. I also worked for a renowned science fiction/art collector/author who had an enormous collection of mid-century science fiction art and rocket depictions.
Artimusi. You’ve sold a lot of paintings in the past. Did you sell any from the Cabin in the Woods series?
Roberta. I may have sold one—a vulture with a cigar, in the cabin, looking out the window. I regretted the sale and decided I didn’t want to sell any more of the Cabin series. They tie in a lot of thoughts, so I want to keep them for now.
Artimusi. This collection appears to be the most ambitious venture into your abstract paintings so far. Do you plan to continue the Cabin series?
Roberta. I experimented with a bit of silver acrylic, painting “Landing Strip,” that included rockets and airplanes, encapsulating all these elements and styles. Satisfied with that painting I decided against continuing the series. It soon came to a halt midyear.
Artimusi. How many paintings in the Cabin series now?
Roberta. At least six early, small paintings—4×5 and 5×7—on paper and six larger paintings on canvas. I was trying to make a series.
Artimusi. Your latest paintings appear as portraits or studies of animals, such as a fox and squirrel?
Roberta. I like to include local animals in my paintings to break from the larger abstracts. I have many squirrels in my woods and they are never satisfied, hence my affinity for the squirrel. Soon after, a beaver, both in acrylic. This past autumn I completed a small painting on paper in casein of a fox overlooking a lake while sitting on a slate quarry. [Monson, Maine is known primarily for its slate production.] I may focus more on casein, watercolor, and gouache.
Artimusi. Do you have another series in mind?
Roberta. I’m going through a spiritual growth spurt. My art looks strange on my walls since I closed the gallery in October. They begin to look like little icons or idols and the concept troubles me. Suddenly I sense my art doesn’t help anything or anyone, and if anything steers people away from God, but wish, through my art, I could steer people *to* God.
Artimusi. Do you have ideas for other interests for your art then?
Roberta. Yes, I thought if I just create greeting cards or Christmas cards maybe then I’ll feel I’m doing something meaningful, purposeful. I was recently asked to teach kids art in a home-school setting, so that is a possibility in 2023.
Artimusi. Your gallery closed in October for the rest of the year. With colder weather coming, is your art is going continue through winter?
Roberta. After the holidays, I plan to visit my children and grandchildren in January. I think it’ll be hard to concentrate on my art then, so I may opt to go into “painting hibernation” this winter.
Artimusi. Do you have anything to add?
Roberta. It’s been a rough few years for us all since the COVID 19 started and we are all adjusting, reprioritizing and some of us taking another look at God, His creation, our purpose in life and the reality of death. I am not unlike the many others, thankful for what we have in this country and who pray for peace of mind. In the light of Christmas, I have never been more aware of the core purpose and true meaning of Christmas with the birth of Christ whose very existence changed the entire history of the last 2022 years. “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:31-32, KJV).
Artimusi. Thanks, Roberta!
We will take a look at Roberta’s gift cards and check out her music, performed at local venues located in Maine’s Moosehead Lake region, during our next visit.
Facebook: Roberta Weaver Jarvis, Artist