subscribe: Posts | Comments

For Elise Gold Sewall, ‘Transparency and Reflection’ is all about color and shadow


Bookended by flowers from Berlin and New Jersey, Elise Gold Sewall enjoyed the opening of her first solo show at the Alliance for the Arts on March 4. Transparency and Reflection consists of a collection of still life oils-on-linen so colorful and luminous that it instantaneously brightens your spirit and calms your frayed nerves.

Still Life painting marks a relatively new adventure for Sewall, who once travelled widely as a high-end jewelry designer. Where she once bounced between New York, Rome and Hong Kong creating pieces for the likes of Harry Winston and Zales, nowadays she’s ensconced in scripted scenes featuring ordinary objects from her kitchen, dining room and the Alliance GreenMarket, like cake plates, turquoise bowls, flowers and a wide assortment of fresh fruit ranging from cherries (black and red) to lemons and mouth-watering orange slices. In fact, her treatment of color and texture is so adroit that you’d swear you can smell the fragrance of citrus the moment you enter the cozy confines of the Foulds Theatre gallery.

“It’s all about color and shadow, and the colors you find in the shadows and reflection,” Sewall effused on opening night when asked about the paintings amid the din of the opening night crowd. “Once you start looking at it, you see it more and more.”

It’s not unusual for Sewall to come back to a composition the ensuing day only to find that there’s even more color and hue lurking in those shadows and reflections than she saw the day before. It’s a journey of discovery unlike any she’s previously encountered – and a radical departure from her prior work in jewelry design, landscape painting and portraiture.

“I love doing portraits, but with portraits, it’s either right or it’s wrong,” Elise explains. “There’s absolutely no middle ground. If you haven’t caught the person, it’s wrong. At the end of every day, you’re either a rock star or you’re horrible depending on how the day went.”

Even when a portrait seemed to be going well, there was always the chance that it could go sideways in a heartbeat.

“It would be going well and then you’d lose it, and it would take three days to get back on track.”

That just about never happens with a still life.

While still life painting may not present the highs and lows she experienced with portraiture, it nonetheless affords Sewall with a different kind of satisfaction. She selects the subject matter and how the objects in each composition relate to one another. She chooses the lighting (which can be either organic or artificial) that will bring those objects to life. And she decides on the allegorical message about her world view that the composition, her brushstrokes and the way she applies pigment to the linen subliminally convey to those lucky enough to encounter and connect with the finished product.

Come to the Alliance and revel in the ambiance that Sewall has created.  You’ll see exactly what I mean. Transparency and Reflection is on display at the Alliance for the Arts now through March 26.

March 8, 2022.

Comments are closed.