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Hingham’s South Street Gallery thinks small for Christmas

Detail from two works at the South Street Gallery, “Antique Treasures” (left) by Kathy Ferrara and “Hing- ham Harbor Sailing School” by Margaret McWethy.

South Street Gallery

Detail from two works at the South Street Gallery, “Antique Treasures” (left) by Kathy Ferrara and “Hing- ham Harbor Sailing School” by Margaret McWethy.

Framed oils, pastels, and watercolors of favorite things — double basses, ladies in kimonos, collections of seashells, red roosters, a plate of mushrooms, a bowl of color-contrasting lemons and limes (whimsically titled “Limes Win 7-5” by Ted Gentry) — fill the Holiday Show at Hingham’s South Street ­Gallery.

The show aims to put art on your Christmas shopping list by offering more than 60 “small, affordable paintings,” most by local artists. The majority of the pieces are for sale near the $200 mark, while a few reach $500; some of the 34 artists in the show ordinarily price their work much higher.

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The “One Size Fits All’’ show consists entirely of 8-by-10-inch original paintings framed by the gallery. For collectors, this is a good opportunity to put their own name on their Christmas list, according to gallery owner Jack Hobbs. 

“The rationale behind displaying the smaller paintings is that they are affordable and offer collectors the chance to add some names to their collection that they might not otherwise be able to do,” said Hobbs, who contributed one of his own pieces, a Western landscape titled “Empty Saddle.”

The show’s formal hook, and artistic challenge, is that all of the paintings are the same size.

“We try to be creative,” said gallery manager Kate Sotolova last week, crediting Hobbs with the idea. “Just to show something different.”

Formal limitations can inspire creativity, the way rhyme and rhythm make for good poems. The gallery creates the frame, said Sotolova (who made all 63 of them), and the artist fills it. Each artist contributed no more than two paintings.

A compact vision of shimmery reflections and overlays of color and form, Hanson painter Kathy Ferrara’s “Antique Treasures” has been drawing visitors, Sotolova said. It’s a still-life watercolor of three small glass containers of different colors.

It’s difficult to achieve the density of oil paints with water­colors that Ferrara has, Sotolova said. “You have to plan and know drawing well. You leave a white space for the highlights. You can’t paint over the color as you can with oil,” she said.

“Watercolor is unforgiving,” Ferrara said last week. “Oil you can fix, pastel you can fix. ­Watercolor sucks right into the paper. A lot of watercolors are delicate one-wash pieces. I go with glazes.”

Watercolor glazing involves allowing the paint to dry, then adding another coating to deepen the color, or “shade it,” she said.

“I just like the depth and the detail,” Ferrara said. “Glass is really difficult to do.”

With many local subjects and landscapes, the gallery’s Holiday Show paints a comprehensive picture of South Shore charm.

Treatments of local landscapes include a misty view in “November Marsh” and a portrait in “Resting Dinghy” by Ann Musto of Cohasset; an evocative “North River” view by Cohasset’s Jan McElhinny; and Scituate painter Robert Beaulieu’s precise depictions of “World’s End,” a Hingham shoreline treasure, and Cohasset’s “Little Harbor.” 

A well-known local painting teacher, Margaret McWethy, contributed an impressionistic “Hingham Red Harbor, Red Dinghy,” and “Hingham Harbor Sailing School.”  

McWethy said she finds lots of subjects to paint in the town. “Being a transplant from Maryland, I’m amazed at how much open space exists in Hingham. For a painter, it’s great.”

She has a 50-piece show of paintings with local themes, called “Evolution,” on display at the Hingham Public Library through Jan. 2. 

Lisa Johnson of Braintree offers an enticing peek into a woodlands interior in a thickly textured oil, “Dappled Light,” and her equally atmospheric “Wintry Walk.” T.A. Charron of Attleboro goes farther afield in two Maine subjects, capturing end-of-summer shoreline moodiness in “Season’s End” and “Late Afternoon at Acadia.”

Other subjects both indoors and out include rain storms, colorful shop windows, buoys and lighthouses, roses, olives in a jar, oranges, and hot chili peppers.

Barbara Swanson of Hingham contributed two views of hydrangea blossoms. The show’s striking works also include two dreamy seasonal pastels by Christina Bodnar of Marshfield; a thickly textured oil painting, “Follyroad,” by ­Patricia Burson of Dorchester; and a stirring darkish sunset by Chuck Sullivan of Milton.

“We have a long list of artists we know,” Sotolova said. “Many have shown here in the past. Some are new. We pick and choose. We are trying to sell paintings.”

Robert Knox can be reached at rc.knox2@gmail.com.
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