What I Liked:

Jeff Molloy‘s paintings. Jeff is a very good painter and a very dedicated one too. The work in this show was “mixed media”, but predominately encaustic, or so it appeared to the naked eye. Starting just to the left of the gallery doors, and moving in a counter clockwise half circle, the paintings were arranged in three main groups. The first and the smallest, at least individually, were pictures of clothes on the line. They were all white, mostly bras, dresses, and undershirts. They were quite charming in a very high end craft sort of way. They could be, in another world, the originals behind a very popular line of framed prints available for a good price at Walmart. There were a large number of these little clothes on the line paintings, probably 40.

Next was a smaller in numbers, but larger in size, group of prayer flag paintings. Very simple. Very quiet. Subdued colours and very plain shapes.

The last group was very limited in number; only four paintings. And they were by far the most beautiful, the most evolved in terms of colour and detail. They were paintings of sheep or lambs. White and black against green; also the delicate faces and limbs against the massive wool bodies. Mesmerizing. The idea of barnyard animals in paintings could fall right in line with the craft art earlier alluded to, but because of the very evident skill and the resulting beauty, these paintings are pure art. Not the slightest bit kitschy.

All of which leads to an observation about the making of art. The hours required to make art and perhaps, arguably, the making of paintings in particular. There is some popular wisdom floating around right now about the number of hours it takes before a person is able to master his or her profession. It’s 10, 000 hours, which apparently equals 5 years of full time labour. This show of Jeff Molloy’s, which incidentally is now finished, seems to exemplify the 10,000 hour rule.

He starts off with many many small paintings, learning to master the craft behind painting and especially encaustics. Then bit by bit, over the course of time, using the materials, and working his way through a variety of simple subjects, he develops a finely honed skill. Perhaps the works shown during the Humboldt show are not the very works upon which he sharpened his blade, but they most definitely tell the story of a dedicated craftsman and artist moving his way, insistently, towards a great talent.

What I Didn’t Like:

The Winchester Humboldt Gallery. The Winchester Gallery chain is indeed a lovely art destination, in general. They deal in some very fine art. Very. And the fortunate artists represented by Winchester are able to earn some proper dollars for their skill. Which is especially good. Also, because it’s commercial, it’s always open. Which is better than good.

However, the Humboldt Gallery is a little different than the Broad St. and the Oak Bay Ave. venues. It really is a high, a very high, end, craft shop. A really expensive gift shop. Really nice stuff. Posh. One thing had Picasso’s name on it. Another thing was a gold (coloured?) Buddha with a price tag of around 10 grand. The other thing was a huge shiny black grand piano. Right in front of a whole bunch of Jeff’s paintings. Of course, it was difficult to get to any of the paintings, there was just so much stuff, everywhere. A lot like everyone’s favourite flower shop at Christmas.

So back to What I Didn’t Like. There was too much goddamn stuff for that place to call itself a gallery. It’s a gift shop. And Jeff Molloy’s paintings, although they are deeply rooted in the physical and in the material, are idea bound. They ooze concept. In a gentle, Zen kind of way. They make you think about a life’s work, and about a life spent working. They suggest ritual and devotion. Perserverence.

In short, they are too good to be part of the gift shop. They should have had their own space.