Paintings by Chelsea Gibson, a Gilbertsville resident since 2012, are on display through April 28 at Mitsui Fudosan America at 527 Madison Ave. in Manhattan.
The solo exhibit, featuring six large oil paintings and one watercolor, is helping Gibson to resolve the conflict between her love of upstate life and the pull of a more vibrant artistic milieu in Manhattan, she said.
“It’s a large luxury office building. People from all over the world walk through those doors, and it’s special to share upstate life with them,” said Gibson, whose paintings are predominantly “at-home” scenes or portraits of artists living upstate.
“For all the things I miss about being in the city, seeing the reaction to my work makes me feel I made the right choice,” she said.
Gibson, who holds college degrees from both Rhode Island School of Design and Boston University, mostly paints scenes of domestic life in upstate New York on large wooden panels purchased from local lumber dealers.
“People say the colors are ramped up, but I paint what I see,” she said.
“With skillful realistic details, Chelsea breaks boundaries. Canvases jut in unexpected directions or turn a corner. She catches the chaotic energy of a well-loved kitchen or light on a reclining model,” said ceramic artist Elizabeth Nields, who lives in the town of Butternuts and has been a subject of Gibson’s paintings.
Nields was depicted in her kitchen at her home — the former residence of chicken farm owners Francis and Marion Miller.
Marcus Villagran, also a ceramic artist, is captured in his Dunderberg Gallery, a transformation of the former Butternut Valley Hardware Co. in Gilbertsville.
Gibson has also painted Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge in their historic Sharon Springs mansion, built in 1802. The pair are famous for their Cooking Channel show, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys.”
Gradually, Gibson has departed from what she described as a “highly observational” style of painting and has begun working almost exclusively from photographs.
“From the photo, you can access almost anything. They allow flexibility in regard to technique. You don’t have to worry if the subject is uncomfortable,” she said.
Gibson said she wants to return to her “first love” — portraiture — which she left for a while because, she said, she got tired of the question, “Who is that?”
“It shouldn’t matter,” Gibson said, regarding portraits. “It’s possible to live with a portrait of someone you don’t know and develop a relationship with that person.”
For the immediate future, Gibson is waiting to hear from residency programs and grant applications. She said she hopes the Manhattan exhibit will boost sales of her work.
“It’s a disadvantage up here in that you can’t invite people to a studio,” she said, adding that she supplements her work with commissions.
Two recent events might help advance her work. Last year actress Pamela Adlon, who received four Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her role in “Louie” and who currently stars as Sam Fox on the FX comedy-drama series “Better Things,” purchased one of Gibson’s paintings.
“She wants to put it on the set (of “Better Things”),” Gibson said.
In another development, Mike Weiss, owner of the Mike Weiss Gallery in Chelsea, now closed, has moved to the area with his wife, artist Virginia Martinsen.
“They have started an online art platform on called ‘Gates of the West.’ They have gotten professional writers to do reviews of my work and have taught me a lot about dealing with galleries,” Gibson said. Her art can be seen at www.gatesofthewest.art
Gibson’s home and studio are on the lower level of what was once a five-story barn on Copes Corners Rd., another “work in progress” which she shares with her husband, Mark Sinclair.
More information on the Mitsui Fudosan America exhibit, as well as examples of Gibson’s work, may be seen at www.chelseagibson.net