The Art of Jeff Fallon
July 3-28, 2019
From the New Bedford Standard-Times:
Assonet artist Jeff Fallon’s Gallery X exhibit stands out
By Don Wilkinson Contributing Writer
Posted Jul 11, 2019 at 3:01 AM Updated Jul 11, 2019 at 1:45 PM
“We live in the landscape. We live in the cracks of the pavement. We live in the inside out. We live in the out of tune.” — The Explosion
Somehow, painter Jeff Fallon has flown under my radar. But when I recently went into Gallery X to check out a large group landscape show, and visited the downstairs street level Frederick Douglass Gallery on the way out, I saw what I’d been missing.
Fallon, from Assonet, is exhibiting dozens of paintings and his work exists well within traditional American realist modernism.
What is striking about his work is an aesthetic that is blunt and unfinicky.
His landscapes exude an understanding of place and space, and suggest a knowing comfort with nature without being the fussy observations of a gentleman painter.
With the exception of a painting done in Arizona and another in British Columbia, almost all the landscapes were done in New England, and Fallon acknowledges the usual trappings with a dry (and much appreciated) sense of humor, even titling a typical Rockport destination image “Tourist Trap.”
Fallon offers up some standard New England landscape fare — snowy pines in the mountains, waves hammering against a rocky outcropping — but his best are those in which nature and the manmade mingle.
“South Portland Bridge,” “York Door Yard” and “Mark’s Beach,” with their spaces devoid of people, seem to exemplify a kind of old school Yankee angst, that not only welcomes solitude but embraces loneliness as a badge of honor.
Fallon’s rich sense of place is evident in his interiors as well. “The Way Out” depicts a short hallway leading to a screen door. The sun pours through, creating an almost decorative pattern of shadow and light on the floor.
But it is the strange and beautiful positioning of a brass doorknob hard against the right edge of the composition that gives it a dynamic tension, visually and emotionally.
In “Morning Dog Hunt,” a woman looks out a door for her dog, likely an every-day ritual. She wears a short nightgown and the morning light bleeds through, rendering it almost transparent. There is a subtle yet distinct domestic eroticism present, not unlike the kind Edward Hopper would reveal, as viewer becomes voyeur.
Fallon’s landscapes and interiors speak to the “where.” Other paintings speak to the “who.” “Anna in the Tent, Acadia, ME” speaks to both.
A blonde is wearing round, blue, bugeye sunglasses. It is morning and the tent in which she sits is yellow and white and it glows like a science-fiction space pod.
The portraits are straightforward and heartfelt. His subjects stare back, and one senses deep history between the artist and the model.
“Graham”, a heavyset middle-aged man slumps in an easy chair, a coffee or a beer in his hand, seemingly resigned to whatever fate or Fallon has in store for him.
There are two self-portraits in the exhibition. With the self-deprecatingly titled “Cranky Old Artist in the Morning,” Fallon admits to a likely well-deserved curmudgeon-ness. He sits in a chair, looking at something in his lap. A few artworks hang on the wall behind, a guitar leans nearby.
But is the other self-portrait — “That’s Me” — that invites a stare. He is high-collared, grey-haired, and thoughtful. He knows what’s what.
The paintings of Jeff Fallon are on display at the Frederick Douglass Gallery at Gallery X, 169 William Street, New Bedford until July 28.
Don Wilkinson is a painter and art critic who lives in New Bedford. Contact him at Don.Wilkinson@gmail.com. His reviews run each week in Coastin’.