Choosing for a Small Exhibition Is a Labor of Love

Top, “Doxy”
Bottom, “Have You Met Miss Jones?”
copyright, 2022, Molly Larson Cook
Colors of Jazz Collection
Details at

“Art should be persistent; exhibitions should be small.”
–Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I have been persistent and have been invited to mount a small exhibition of my “Colors of Jazz” in my new also small hometown in July. This is a happy piece of news for me after I lost opportunities when I left San Diego for Mexico back in 2018. And then moved again back to the states just before the pandemic which closed or greatly limited exhibition opportunities.

This first post-pandemic opportunity has injected new life in me and the work.

It has, along with Robert Henri, also reminded me of my days at Maine College of Art in relatively small Portland, Maine, where art is a way of life. Where art and writing and other creative endeavors hold their own. Where they matter and are not adjuncts to the business and technology world that has made so many efforts to usurp and downgrade art.

Social media has played quite a role in this. The internet is filled these days with sites to show readers “how to create a painting in five minutes or less” as if this was a statement about the real practice of art.

It’s not.

Henri says, “Art has relations to science, religions and philosophies. The artist must be a student. The value of a school should be in the meeting of students. The art school should be the life-centre of a city. Ideas should radiate from it.”

I was fortunate to get my art foundation in Portland, Maine, where this was the case. Things may have changed now, but back in the day Maine College of Art (now Maine College of Art and Design) held an important place in the heart of the city. Literally the heart of the city. What’s more, this small city still has what few cities of any size have: a beautiful art museum designed by I.M. Pei where I saw outstanding shows — Andrew Wyeth, Louise Nevelson and so many others.

It was a great gift to become an artist in such a place.

But getting back to the present in time and space, our unseasonable cold and rainy weather is still keeping me out of the studio, although I’m happy to have my paintings through the house.

I worried that I might find myself a critic of my own work and would see flaws. Would want to make changes as I looked at the paintings from this new distance. It didn’t happen. They feel complete and finished to me, and for that I’m grateful. It speaks to growth and satisfaction.

Artists understand that it’s important to know when to stop. When to lift the brush or the palette knife. When to step away and say, “Done.”

Choosing what to include in the show will be a labor of love.

8 thoughts on “Choosing for a Small Exhibition Is a Labor of Love

  1. Thank you, dear Janice…it’s one small step in this new life!
    Love, Molly

  2. No galleries now in Corvallis…this one will be in my new home town…

  3. Hi Molly,
    I always appreciate your thoughts on creating art. I’m reminded of some wisdom offered by an instructor in a watercolor class: “It takes two people to create a watercolor. One person to paint and the other person to stop.”

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