Next month, the Springfield Museums will play host to an exhibit of evocative watercolors by artist Josie Vargas. The exhibit, titled Fiesta: Flora and Fauna from Puerto Rico, will be on display at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts from September 10 through May 11, 2014. The exhibit is part of the Springfield Museums’ annual Hispanic Heritage Month events, which are sponsored this year by Baystate Health. MassMutual is the Springfield Museums Premier Sponsor for 2013.
Artist Josie Vargas colorful watercolor paintings are inspired by foliage on the island of Puerto Rico as well as locations in Mexico and the Bronx Botanical Gardens in New York. The artist takes photographs during her travels to tropical locations and then returns to her studio to paint. Vargas fills the paper with rich, saturated color reflecting the mood of tropical islands.
Ms. Vargas, an adjunct assistant professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology and an instructor in the BFA Fashion Design program at Parsons the New School, cites inspiration from the late Edgar A. Whitney, “You are not artists…you are shape makers,” for guiding her personal vision and approach to creative challenges she faces. She is a purist when it comes to watercolor and loves painting realistic images in saturated color, using transparent glazing techniques. She creates energy in her pieces by positioning complementary colors near each other creating a palpable vibration.
The absence of tropical vegetation in New York City, where the artist was born and raised, made her yearn for vibrant color. The paintings in the exhibit celebrate the flora and fauna on the island of Puerto Rico where Vargas’ family originated. She is fascinated and inspired by hardy fauna that sways in the tropical breezes.
“I was most attracted to Ms. Vargas color palette and her fearless use of strong colors and shapes, which is an accomplishment using the demanding watercolor medium,” says Curator of Art, Julia Courtney. “Her paintings are bold, sensual and use strong form and composition to convey her message.”
The exhibit is part of the museums’ annual celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The artist will be in Springfield for a special reception on Saturday September 14 from 6-8 pm at the D’Amour Museum. The reception is free for members and $5 for nonmembers. For reservations, call 413.263.6800, ext. 259.