Monhegan deeply affected both Brooks and Torlen. Brooks spent, and Torlen continues to spend, countless days and weeks depicting or evoking the island’s rugged features and the waves that beat against its shores.
“Almost Noon” watercolor by Leo Brooks
For years, in his hours off from his job as a linotype operator at the New York Times, Leo Brooks (1905-1993) visited the city’s museums and galleries. He admired modernist work. At age 60 he took his first art class, at the Art Students League. He loved the directness of watercolor and the freedom of a modernist sensibility, which allowed him to alter the forms and colors of a scene to serve his own aims and the structural needs of the work. His energy and devotion to his new-found passion increased upon his discovery of Monhegan, where he lived and painted for many summers.
Brooks’ work is in the collections of the Portland Museum of Art, the Farnsworth Art Museum and the Monhegan Museum. Most of the ten works on display at the Jonathan Frost Gallery are newly framed and have never been shown.
“Rolling” watercolor by Michael Torlen
Michael Torlen has been painting on Monhegan for the past twenty-four summers. He works outdoors, at the water’s edge, observing closely and capturing quickly, in watercolor, both the details and the moods of the rocks, sea, and sky. Close to twenty of these plein-air watercolors will be on view, several of the painted this past summer.
Torlen is professor emeritus of the School of Art and Design, Purchase College, State University of New York. He has shown widely and has work in the collections of several museums, including the Housatonic Museum, the Neuberger Museum of Art, and the Springfield Art Museum. Critic Carl Little wrote: “With his brilliant Monhegan seascapes, Torlen takes his place in the distinguished line of painters who have rendered the island’s shoreline. . . .”
“Two Monhegan Masters” will be up through December 1. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 to 5:00. The phone number is 207-596-0800.