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Michelle Lougee Sculpture

By Elizabeth Stickley/DAILY NEWS CORRESPONDENT MetroWest Daily News

Nature, nurture at Fountain Street Fine Arts

FRAMINGHAM - Two local artists reveal their views of the world through form and color in a new exhibit, "Painting, Sculpture: The Art of Michelle Lougee and Bob Grignaffini," at the Fountain Street Fine Art Gallery in Framingham.

Using bright colors and defined shapes, sculptor Lougee of Cambridge and painter Grignaffini, originally from Wellesley, intend to depict the fragile relationship between humans and nature. An environmental sculptor and artist, Lougee creates colorful, spiritual sculptures to capture the importance of humans' responsibility to the earth and the controversial question of nature vs. technology. Her simple, cellular forms expose the reality of the world and relay a clear message to viewers: "What are we going to do?" "We are in a dangerous place right now," Lougee said, "The way we live affects us in the future."

For example, "Plume" is a tubular structure of black, interwoven plastic bags inspired by last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The bags are not tightly woven, which gives the sculpture the appearance of netting.

Grignaffini's oil paintings reflect his views on places around the world. Using bright colors within solid forms, he captures the movement and light that make a scene come to life. He said his paintings are a "celebration of color and form" within pastoral and small town landscapes.

"Everything has spirit in it," he said, "I try to be honest with the way I'm laying the paint down." Not all of his subjects are real.

Created in Grignaffini's mind, "Pathway Through a Garden" is meant to be an interactive piece for viewers. He invites us to step into the painting with a long staircase passing through a beautiful garden of bright greens, yellows and blues.

Both artists gain inspiration from nature. Grignaffini's paintings attempt to show a sense of movement and life in otherwise stationary objects. Lougee loves the otherworldliness of the ocean and bases many of her sculptures on deep-sea life forms.

Grignaffini's "Old Beech Tree" reveals an ancient Italian forest, in which he uses bright colors and profound shadows to capture the movement of light among the trees. It inspired many of his other paintings displayed in the exhibit.

"Saxonville" depicts a familiar landscape along the Sudbury River. This painting is particularly special to Grignaffini because it is near his former home, and both of his children were born there. It also represents his desire to share the shapes and colors within everyday scenery.

Ocean plankton in the "Eastern Garbage Patch" off the coast of Hawaii inspired Lougee's "Dinoflagellate." The sculpture, created with crocheted plastic bags, looks like a vortex of life forms meant to represent the effect of toxins on sea creatures within the patch.

Lougee's panel pieces give an organic form to inorganic substances. Ironed and fused together, the beige plastic bags give an appearance like worn parchment. Yarn-like strands of plastic bags sewn into the panels create a wall sculpture and give life to the inorganic materials.

Gallery co-founder Cheryl Clinton said she loves the combination of paintings and sculptures. The shapes, composition and palette create a rhythm between the works, which visually connects them to one another and makes an appealing display.

Lougee uses repurposed materials to create her sculptures. Her current favorites are clay and plastic bags, which she began using four years ago. She turns the bags into yarn and crochets them into shapes. The ease and portability of the pieces make it easy to work on anywhere.

Grignaffini likes to use different styles when he paints, usually beginning the process with a charcoal sketch of a scene he wants to paint. He works primarily in his studio at the Fountain Street Gallery, but also enjoys working en plein air.

"It's like discovering your own language," said Grignaffini.

Grignaffini recently moved to Shelburne Falls with his family and runs a landscape design and construction business, using unprocessed materials to create gardens. The gardens, made of stone and rough-cut timbers, are also inspired by nature. He is an associate member of the Fountain Street Fine Arts Gallery, and his studio is open to the public. Grignaffini invited Lougee to be featured in the exhibit with him.

Lougee teaches art at the Danforth Museum in Framingham and Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown. She is a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery and has had work her work featured in various New England museum exhibits. She plans to have her work on display in Berlin, Germany, next year.

Spatial Thoughts on Sculpture by Bill West
Michelle Lougee's sculptural creativity is highly timely and so well done!

Michelle Lougee Sculpture
Dinoflagellate by Michelle Lougee
Click here to view above sculpture larger