Worcester Telegram, Thursday, February 15, 2007
MWCC hosts painting, photographic exhibition

By Anna L. Griffin, staff reporter


GARDNER— Husband and wife Dug Morton and Dawn Haley Morton are "Connected."

The couple is exhibiting their work in the East Wing Gallery of the Raymond Lafontaine Fine Arts Center, Mount Wachusett Community College. The exhibition, a combination of Dug Morton's fine art and Dawn Haley Morton's photography is titled, "CONNECTED — Partners Sharing a Life and an Aesthetic Vision."

The team describe themselves as having a juxtaposition of texture, geometric compositions and simplicity.

When artist Dug Morton and his wife Dawn Haley Morton first met, they discovered a common thread in their works — each captured their ideas in a similar pattern, whether it was in pixels or paint.

"Our art met, and then we fell in love," said Mrs. Morton in her artist statement.

"That's really how it did happen," said Dug Morton, in an interview in the East Wing Gallery.

"You can see just by looking at the two sides of this gallery, how similar our work is," he said. "We both deal with a very subdued palette, we both like working with geometric shapes."

The exhibition in the East Wing Gallery came about as the result of a photo shoot in the gallery. The curator of the gallery, John Pacheco, saw a similar visual parallel in their work and invited them to exhibit.

"The pieces speak clearly to each other. They create an elegant and articulate dialogue in the language of the color and shape," he said.

Dug Morton, a graduate of Mount Wachusett Community College, went on to study painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Franklin Pierce College. He has been exhibiting his artwork in galleries around New England since 1987 and is the sole proprietor of Eclectic Painting.

His paintings have transformed over the years from figurative to landscape to minimalist abstraction. He refers to his style of the last 15 years as "organic geometry." The work currently on display is from his recent "Disaster Series."

Mr. Morton said images of disasters, both natural and man-made, started to intrigue him. "These images kept coming up in news stories and I was transfixed by them," he said.

He said he felt they tended toward very unusual juxtapositions of colors and shapes. "The images surprisingly included visual patterns, repetition and rational object arrangements. Somehow, mayhem and beauty were concurrently present," he said.

"I knew it was something I wanted to explore," he said.

The work is on wooden panels. Mr. Morton said he glues a variety of papers onto the wood panels loosely arranged to echo the intended composition of a given picture.

He then draws over the collage, breaking up the space with "orthogonal" geometry — that is, all marks determined using right angles, lending an organizational element to the piece. Finally, he paints onto the grid with thin washes of paint, their transparency showing the unexpected results of painting over uneven textures.

Dawn Haley Morton has been shooting nature, portraits, and events since 1983 and dubs her personal style "Dawn-O-Matic," a phrase she uses to describe how her inner eye works automatically and processes a scene, focusing in on a particular sequence of color, textures and juxtapositions. Her time is also spent as a mission specialist at FableVision, a children's educational media company in Boston, as well as The Blue Bunny, a children's book and toy store in Dedham that she helped launch in 2003 with author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds ("The Dot," "Ish," "The North Star").

Mrs. Morton said the work in this show is from 2006, shot on 35 mm film, APS (film with digital assist technology) and in digital format. She said in her artist statement that she has been fortunate to travel nationally and internationally, and brings these experiences to her work.

"As with my life, there can also be a bit of humor or drama each day, and that trails into my images," she said in her vision statement.

The show runs from now through Friday, March 9. Gallery Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. A reception for the artists will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16. It is free and open to the public.