This article by Joan D’Arcy that appeared in the Woodstock Times, November 5, 1998
Walking into Ric Dragon’s exhibition of Paintings, Recent Works, at the Woodstock Artists Association is akin to stepping inside a giant, nacreous seashell. Colors so creamily rich with jelly-like delicacy quivering on the eye, the viewer wants to taste them. This intense radiance may be the effect of Dragon painting wet-on-wet, never allowing the paint to dry-an unusual technique when working in oils. The resultant underglow is similar to the suppressed vibrancy of light flickering through the impasto of a late Constable painting. In Dragon’s paintings, the whole history of the work is visible down to the canvas.
“Paris” is a compote of color: peach, rose, amber, ivory, apricot-orange. Pale greens curling like a continuous apple peel. Limes alongside a thin pumpkin streak; lemons and the clear orange of cut cantaloupes. Behind the wider brush strokes are the jockey-dancers and café tables. In “What’s For Lunch”, tomato reds, banana yellows and a della Robbia tangerine frame a bowl of cream of-celery soup.
“Lurchers” (an English poacher’s favorite dog) is all about the antics and absorptions of dog-life set against a panoramic landscape of azure and cerulean blues and moss green. In the foreground a brick-brown lurcher is playing catch with an upright tail vibrating in happiness. Another lurcher, front paws flat, hindquarters up and head lowered, dares the-viewer to romp. This painting is crowded with lurchers, lime-green, blue, carrot orange, cream and beige-all exuberance and delighted expectation.
“Portrait of Philip Guston” is all the colors of an elaborate maquillage with swirls of Titian red and the pinkish-orange of Tanguy lipstick with rounded shapes like powderpuffs. Then, suddenly on the left is a small, sharp peck of a beak with one tiny, beady eye. The “Clasp”, black-and-white drawing, embodies every handclasp of a lifetime: greeting and going pledging and reaffirming, parent-child dependence and responsibility, or membership in secret band. A living knot.
Brilliantly colored and energetic, “The Waver” is a gorgeous maelstrom of bronze and rich golds, cadmium-orange and tea rose pinks. Babytoes and hands. As Dragon writes, “My son, Joey, was born a year and a half ago; I was impressed by this hands and feet. They were not only beautifully articulated, but they were often thrust into my face unexpectedly.”
“Alcestis” (the mythological wife who gave up her life to save her husband) is, at first, a kindergarten tumbling of shapes which then transmutes into a Roman-mother figure of pale golds and yellows. It’s a figure ebullient with bells and ribbons, having been fortunately rescued from Hades by Hercules. It’s all about joy.
“The Bath” could be the centerpiece of this particular series of paintings. A child with peachcolored hair advances toward a froth of cyclamen pink and ivory jasmine bubbles foaming around sturdy feet and legs. A mother-figure with the constructivist head of a Naum Gabo piece-fierce, hawk-like-hovers protectively. This work is a narrative set in a sea of all the pretty colors.
While Ric Dragon studied at SUNY Purchase during the tenure of painter Nicholas Marsicano, their relationship was that of mentor-student rather than teacher-student. The presence of the Marsicano retrospective in the upstairs gallery illuminates the profound empathy between the artists. (Dragon’s wife, Jennifer Williams, who also studied with Marsicano, co-curated the retrospective with the artist’s widow, Susan Kamen Marsicano.)
The Ric Dragon exhibition continues through November 15 in the downstairs gallery at the Woodstock Artists Association, 28 Tinker Street Hours are Thursday to Sunday from noon to 5:00p.m. For more information, call 679-2940.