Having worked from a studio in the Gowanus Canal area of Brooklyn for two decades, I see this year as an anniversary of sorts, allowing me to re-visit scenes I previously painted but which have changed in the intervening years. Preoccupied for several years with collage, this body of work sees me back on the banks of the water, to the sites that have been my muse for much of that time, from the sun-lit green hut on the Union St. bridge, to the latticed overpass at the Smith and 9th St. subway. Returning to painting after having worked in collage for several years, I am now back at the canal, painting on site.
At home in the abandoned precincts of the canal with its solidly geometric shapes, I alternate between the flexibility of oils and the inherent limitations of collage with its clearly defined edges. The newest body of work proves an intimate view of Brooklyn, combining the dominance of the industrial with the energy of the natural world. The solidly geometric shapes of such things as a bridge railing, a ladder or a latticed overpass turn loosely broken and beautiful in the mirror of the canal water.
Industrial scenes of the Gowanus Canal are complemented by scenes of Marion Lake on the North Fork of Long Island, where I spend weekends. In these paintings I am similarly interested in the depiction of architecture reflected in water. A spit of land separates Marion Lake from Gardiner’s Bay, and provides an alternating rhythm of land to water; the partially frozen lake echoes the canal with the geometry of the houses reflected in the lake. Both bodies of work exhibit lively brushwork, thick atmosphere and a preoccupation with geometry, combining formal issues with a sense of place.
Elizabeth O'Reilly received her MFA from Brooklyn College, New York, and her B.Ed from the National University of Ireland. She has participated in residencies at the Ballinglen Foundation, Ireland, the Ucross Foundation, Wyoming and the Ragdale Foundation, Illinois, and has received a grant from the Pollock Krasner Foundation. A documentary on her work was shown on the Irish TV network, TG4 in 2002. The artist has exhibited extensively in both the USA and Ireland.