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Bobbie Hanstein - 2002
"Images Remembered": Lewiston Sun Journal, Maine: July 22

The lupines are still in bloom beneath Claire Seidl's birch tree forest.

"It's magical," the artist said, looking through the ghostly birch wood to the glancing blue of Rangeley Lake beyond. She has come to this "magical" place for the past 15 summers.

Her 100-year-old sporting camp-with its old distorted glass window panes, its dark, rugged wood and its tall, driftwood posts, holding up a massive porch- is in stark contrast to her New York City world. Her work, both here and in the big city, is spent creating abstract oil paintings, and black and white photographs.

"Somehow, it's all integrated," Seidl said. "The work, the kids, the place."

Fifteen of her paintings and ten of her photographs will be on exhibit July 27 through Aug. 24 at the ICON contemporary Art gallery inBrunswick. Her 4-year-old studio, set off in the woods, is filled with light and artwork in progress. Nearly 200 silver and white tubes, mottled with dabs of brilliant oil hue, bent and twisted from use, are neatly lined up on a glass table. Her once-white studio wall now looks like Jackson Pollock spent a little time here, with the random dots and dashes and short drippings from her years of painting.

"I start with a color or a form, but it's always open. There's no one way to do it." she said. She began and remains an abstract painter, with a decade-long art-teaching stint at Hunter College in New York, ending in 1996. Her abstract images are nature-based, organic in feel, layered with rich tones.

"I used to use loud colors, but now I've quieted down."

Her favorite subjects: "The woods, the water. Walking around in nature you see things, you feel things."

Fifteen years ago she discovered photography. "I started shooting the spaces between the trees." More photography courses followed as she continued to paint. "I was smitten with the whole process," Seidl said of photography.

Then she began to do both, painting and photography, but "I kept them separate. I have no desire to stop painting or to stop photography." Her black-and-white subjects often end in abstraction, because of the unusual angle or focus sheís taken or the 45-minute exposure time that revealed the moon tracing a scalloped, bright, silvery-white reflected line.

She never alters the images in the darkroom that she finds in nature her three girls or her old distorted windows but instead captures the things that usually go unnoticed. In "Girl" she shot the photograph from inside a tent pitched on the banks of Mooselookmeguntic Lake. The campfire outside illuminated the silhouette of her daughters face peering through the material.

She shoots in Rangeley, then takes her material back to New York to develop and print. Her Maine summer images live on through the city's winter. When she is painting in the city, her paintings grow in scale, at times to 8-foot murals.

"I work large in New York. But I haven't felt the need to work large here," she said. Her photographic imagery, often geometric, has crept quietly into her paintings.

"It's what you look at. What you focus on is what you think about. Images remembered come out through your arm."

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