SAXTONS RIVER — A half-dozen buildings in his new hometown form the core of the oil paintings artist Ricky McEachern will display for a month in one of those buildings, with an opening reception Friday, Oct. 7, from 6 to 9 p.m. at 26a Main Street, aka The Cute Red Building.
McEachern has titled the show “Wood & Light,” and calls it a celebration of the many interesting manmade structures found in New England and their play with natural light.
“I think of this work as a series of portraits. I am hoping I can show each one's unique personality and maybe capture a glimpse of its past glory,” he said in a news release.
The selection of paintings includes buildings that were once part of the village's busy economy, including the wool pullery, the former hardware store, the one-time grocery store where the show is mounted, as well as repurposed buildings, including a house now used for costume storage and the former Christ's Church, which has become a community center known as 24 Main.
A native of Massachusetts with stops along the way in Philadelphia and Chicago, McEachern moved to Saxtons River from Chicago in July and was immediately drawn to some of the structures he discovered here.
“As I was meeting people in town and asking general questions,” he said, “I realized everything has a story. Each building was associated with people's memories. Every structure was referred to as a different name by different people based on their memories.”
McEachern has studied at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. He has spent most of his life in New England, where he finds his work inspired by its urban centers, small towns, green mountains, rocky shores, serene beaches, historic properties, and abandoned mills.
“Something that was once thoughtfully planned, constructed, and celebrated is now no longer used,” he said. “Sometimes the thought, care, and beauty still shows through.”
McEachern is sprinkling the show with tantalizing bits of entertainment, including Ken Rokicki on Latin guitar at the opening; guitarist and singer Jonny O of Pizza Stone fame Saturday afternoon, Oct. 15; and an art, poetry and open mic event for poets to read works inspired by wood and light, emceed by poet Rebecca Cross Sunday, Oct. 23, from 2 to 4 p.m.
In collaboration with the Saxtons River Historical Society, McEachern has scheduled a Saxtons River Memory Circle Sunday, Oct. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. for folks to share stories about the buildings depicted in the paintings. The historical society has also created a pamphlet with information about the buildings and a map for a self-guided walking tour.
The gallery will be open Thursday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Oct. 29 or by request.
Examples of McEachern's work can be seen at rickymceachernartist.com. He is also the producer of the podcast “Eager to Know,“ which engages conversations with creative-leaning people.