A common theme unites two area library exhibitions this month. Art galleries at both the Wellesley Free Library and the Newton Free Library showcase the creative talents of former scientists who, after long careers that comprised research, teaching, and lab work, became artists.
There was a point in her life, Newton photographer tSOfi Inbar says, when chronic ailments made her realize that her days of world travel were over. Briefly, she believed that meant her pursuit of photography as an art form would end too.
“I was thinking, I can’t just sit here in Newton and still be a photographer if I never travel anywhere,” she said. “But you know what I’ve come to believe since then? If I stay in the Boston area for the rest of my life, I will still find something new to shoot every day. You can’t imagine how many thousands of images I find walking one mile in Newton Centre or Newton Highlands.”
In a way, that realization defined Inbar’s current oeuvre. Her creative digital images portray everyday objects — trash cans, car mirrors, buildings — viewed in remarkable ways, all filmed at unusual angles with odd reflections.
“The philosophy behind my art is that I show people the same places and items that they’ve seen countless times, and either they cannot identify the objects, or they are amazed and surprised at the way those objects appear,’’ Inbar said.
“My mission is to surprise people, to use my photography to make them stop and think. My belief is that what you see is not a matter of what you are looking at but of how you choose to look at it. Viewing objects in a creative way gives dimensions of curiosity, interest, and joy to things that may seem boring or even ugly. Such as parking meters and trash dumpsters.”
Born in Israel, Inbar chose the unusual formatting of her first name after it happened as a misprint and she liked the way it looked, but also because she feels it facilitates both the Israeli pronunciation of her name and the more Americanized version.
As a young woman, she wanted to become an architect, but her father insisted she adhere to the Israeli government’s call for engineers and scientists instead. She began her working life as a chemist, and then later went into computer science. Today, Inbar makes a living as a photographer.
“I always say my brain is in the sciences but my heart is in the arts. Now I’m doing what I always said I wanted to do when I grow up,” she said.
Inbar’s photographs are on exhibit in “Discovering the Extraordinary in the Ordinary’’ at the Newton Free Library, 330 Homer St., Newton Centre, through Oct. 30. For hours and more information, call 617-796-1360 or go to www.newtonfreelibrary.net.
Whereas Inbar was a computer engineer who moved from Israel to Newton and became a photographer, Roy Perkinson is an MIT-trained physicist who started painting as a child in Texas, and eventually became an artist specializing in landscapes.
“My father was an artist, and when I was growing up, oil paints formed the fragrance of our household. I have an early memory from when I was 8 or 9 years old of sitting on a levee in Dallas with my father, painting water colors,” the Wellesley resident recalled.
As a young man, Perkinson left Texas for an MIT education, but over the next few decades, science and art mingled in his life. He interrupted his college years to study at an arts school in Dallas, but then returned to MIT to combine a study of philosophy with a program in physics.
After graduating, he spent his days working in the MIT instrumentation lab and evenings taking classes at the Museum of Fine Arts.
“It’s a strange and extraordinary thing to go from wrestling with quantum mechanics to trying to get the right amount of rabbitskin glue spread on your canvas before you start coating it in preparation for painting,” Perkinson said.
Through what he calls a stroke of luck, Perkinson was hired by the Boston museum’s first paper conservator as an apprentice.
“That was when I left the field of physics behind altogether,” he said. “I worked full time for the MFA until my retirement in 2006. What an experience, working every day in such close proximity to such fabulous artwork, while continuing my studies in painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking.”
After retiring, Perkinson found studio space in Framingham and began focusing on landscapes; about four dozen are on exhibit this month at the Wellesley Free Library, 530 Washington St.
“I’ve included landscapes painted everywhere, from Massachusetts throughout New England and in Oregon and Texas,” he said.
A devotee of John Singer Sargent, Perkinson said that the depiction of light particularly fascinates him.
“My wife once commented that I don’t paint landscapes, I paint skyscapes,” he remarked. “That made me realize how important the atmospherics of the sky are to me.”
Perkinson’s exhibition, “Day into Night,” can be viewed through Oct. 31 during regular library hours; a reception with the artist will be held Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, call 781-235-1610 or go to www.wellesleyfreelibrary.org.
DIFFERENT STROKES: Gallery Seven in Maynard presents “Mixed Media,” an exhibition of works by Peter Beves, Kay Hartung, Sirarpi Heghinian Walzer, Rachel Korn, and Siri Smedvig.
The materials used by the artists include oil and acrylic paints, handmade and recycled paper, wood, fabric, gouache, and encaustic. The exhibition runs through Nov. 3, with an artists’ reception on Oct. 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the gallery, 7 Nason St. in Maynard.
For more information about Gallery Seven and upcoming exhibitions, call 978-897-9777 or go to www.gallerysevenmaynard.com.
VISIONS OF THE SEA: Emmy Award-winning production designer Katha Seidman shows her talents in a new light with an exhibition of paintings of the sea titled “Constructed Illusion,” featuring new works that combine found objects and painted images to evoke imagined places.
Seidman’s exhibition will be on view through Oct. 28, with an artist’s reception scheduled for Oct. 14 from 2 to 4 p.m., at the Concord Art Association, 37 Lexington St. in Concord.
For more information, call 978-369-2578 or go to www.concordart.org.
MUSIC OF AUTUMN: The Friends of the Marlborough Public Library will launch this season’s concert series Wednesday at 7 p.m. with a program entitled “Fall Festival of Music,” featuring the group Quintessential Brass playing traditional Oktoberfest music.
The free concert will be in Bigelow Auditorium at the library, 35 West Main St. in Marlborough. For more information, call 413-648-9663 or e-mail rajohnson736@ gmail.com.
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