ART IN REVIEW; Ada Gilmore — ‘The Summer of 1915: Watercolors From Provincetown’
Ada Gilmore (1883-1955) studied at the Art Institute of Chicago at the start of the century and then went to Paris. In 1915, World War I drove her back to the United States, where she settled in Provincetown, Mass., and produced the lovely series of 22 small watercolors on view in this modestly radiant show. All the paintings were made on the backs of official United States Postal Service postcards; some the artist mailed to friends.
Gilmore's sunny, Impressionistic pictures of women gardening or doing laundry or views of houses among trees may seem slight at first, but they become more absorbing the more you look. Each has a thin border of opaque color around the edge, creating a windowlike effect, and each was mounted by the artist on a sheet of mottled beige paper with its own narrow colored border. Thus framed with their jewel-bright colors, they are like Indian miniatures or medieval illuminations.
The spirit is decidedly Modernist, however. Influenced most obviously by Vuillard, Gilmore worked a fine balance between representational space on the one hand and vibrantly hued surface patterns of printed dresses, clumps of flowers and architectural rhythms on the other. In some cases she blocked in the word Provincetown at the bottom, making the picture into a small poster. Gilmore's works have none of the shadowy claustrophobia that gives Vuillard's paintings their unsettling psychological resonance, however; they exude an unclouded happiness.