ROCKPORT — Bastille Day celebrates the event that sparked the French Revolution in the 18th century.
In Rockport, more than 300 years later, the owners of Découvert Fine Art began a tradition on Bastille Day, July 14, to highlight an artist and bring people together for the pure aesthetic and perhaps even a spark of spiritual exploration.
“It represents a day when an artist has been discovered that deserves wider recognition,” said gallery owner Steven Law.
In this eighth year of the July 14 event, from 7 to 10 p.m., the featured artist is Rockport’s Mark Drury. A selection of his sculptures and drawings are on view in the exhibition “Shape Memory” at the gallery at 73 Main Street in downtown Rockport.
“In some ways, Mark’s exhibition is more aligned with the spirit of the historic event,” said Law. “Previous Bastille Day artists have come from Paris, Florence, Boston and Vermont. Mark is our first local artist, and his connection to Rockport spans decades. He recalls visits with his great-grandmother Marjorie Selew Thompson, who lived in Rockport for more than 30 years, teaching rug hooking and embracing the natural beauty.“
Drury commented that memories are shaped and expanded, growing and receding, every day of our lives.
“Unexamined, they can form a prison of sorts, especially unpleasant ones. Lama Marut taught, ‘You can change the past by gifting yourself with a kinder, better, gentler memory.’ ‘Shape Memory’ explores this idea,” said Drury.
His great-grandmother encouraged his art, gifting him pencils and a sketch pad when he was 12. Soon after, he began to draw Motif No. 1 in three dimensions.
After high school, he studied art and design.
“I benefitted from learning the history of art and the artistic critical exchange. I was amazed to learn that Henry Moore created abstract human forms from his memories of being in the tubes, the bomb shelters, in World War II. Also, during these formative years, I received a gift from my great-grandmother, an exhibition catalog on John Marin’s work that inspired me to believe that hope could be found in nature,” said Drury. “When I walk down the street, I see things in shapes: negative space, positive space, big shapes, small shapes.”
Such ideas served Drury well in his work as a creative director for Apple, Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems. In his work, he created corporate events and exhibits in Europe, Singapore, and Hawaii, to name a few. Whether designing a 40-by-40 trade show booth, or banners for the Louvre, Versailles, or Montmartre, the idea was to engage the public about the power of emerging technologies.
“’Shape Memory’ is the first exhibit for which I’ve been invited to explore art for art’s sake, exploring with abandon a pure creative stream controlled only by me. In some ways, it’s the most important exhibition of my life,” said Drury. “Out in nature I look for things that have been thrown up or out by the sea, in the way that I sometimes feel discarded by corporate America. The sea doesn’t want it, but I can use it. These objects are kept in my studio where my work bench resides. I love to see things come to life off that bench.”
Law said these new works deserve to be experienced.
“Imagine memory — dreams, joyful and sad events, places lived and experienced — shaped into two and three dimensions. It’s magic, particularly when one discovers how they are created,” said Law.
The names of the works also spark memories, with titles such as “Curious” about discovery; “Monumental,” which recalls nightmares from pain killers and perhaps the unknown; “Cape Secrets” brings forth the magic of Cape Ann; and “Step into Memory” that brings to mind words from an Australian surfer who said “If you understand Mother Nature, she has a pulse. A wave is the pulse of the planet. When you surf, you are riding the beating heart of Mother Nature.”
Law said he plans the opening like previous years, putting the aesthetic experience of art above all else.
“As one would expect with surrealist works, I hope that viewer’s memories and dreams will imbue every piece with more meaning. Hopefully, on the sidewalk, we’ll have lots of conversation about the experience and the achievement,” he said. “That’s what happened last year.”
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at [email protected]