Madolin Maxey is “a woman of a certain age.” Although primarily a painter, she has built teahouses, designed for theater, and initiated public art projects in Providence over the past …
Madolin Maxey is “a woman of a certain age.” Although primarily a painter, she has built teahouses, designed for theater, and initiated public art projects in Providence over the past forty years.
A natural storyteller, Maxey never shies from a good narrative, either in words or paint. Her voice modulates as she builds a story, much as she orchestrates the colors on her canvases. She keeps a drawing pad handy and uses it to record anything that catches her eye – a teapot, gym equipment or a sunflower. When she does enter the studio to paint, she paints from memory with an intimate understanding gained by drawing.
As a shy only child, Maxey often entertained herself. She played in the fields and creeks of her grandparents’ farm in Pennsylvania pretending to be an explorer, canoeing down the river while her grandfather watched quietly from the banks. In Washington DC, the young Maxey spent hours in the Smithsonian Museums and the National Gallery looking at paintings and sculpture and dinosaurs, drinking it in while she waited for her mother, the chief clerk of the federal court, to finish work.
Maxey has spent many years hovering around academia. She has three degrees of her own and a husband who is a professor at Brown University. Yet this is a woman with little patience for the theoretical. Maxey is a doer.
She is an elected member of the National Association of Women Artists. Her work is included in many national and international private and museum collections.
For twenty years she has painted in her studio on Regent Avenue in Providence. But the past two pandemic years have given her a concentrated gift of time to create. Her paintings are bold, lyrical color-centric visions of Maxey’s daily life. Her subject matter is often humble, but her treatment is anything but.
The paintings on exhibit at the BankRI Turks Head Gallery are of Maxey’s time spent in Spain. She writes of Spain on her website “Stories. It is always about the stories. Tales told across the dinner table. Memories exciting and evoking other memories. Talk of hot hot days, burning sun, too much wine, too little wine.”
The idea of “music” plays strongly in her paintings. Maxey does not so much as paint an object, as try to tell its story. She searches for the movements, patterns and rhythms. She celebrates the color and cadence in life. And she credits her many visits to Japan as a major influence in her work.
“Japan opened my eyes to the simplicity in painting.” Maxey says. “If you see a fast-growing green bamboo as bold, then paint it red.” The shy and quiet girl grew up to be a woman not afraid to paint what she wanted how she wanted, or as Maxey herself puts it, “From here on you paint you.”
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