stillpoint: sky scapes by Berta Burr

Art New England Review, January/February 2021, by Dian Parker

Slow-drifting clouds infused with dimension and light, stills the mind, offering a quiet refuge.  Through her sky scapes, the artist Berta Burr captures the sky's illusive, luminescent quality by painting clouds, with deft strokes, in voluminous glory.  This is no small feat.  Cloud paintings can often look like a photograph or a romantic, sentimental puff.  Burr manages to paint her clouds alive, electrified, voyaging across the sky  portentously or demurely, hovering over the blue.  


Burr spent decades decorating 17th and 18th century-style harpsichords replicated and built by her husband.  Gilding with tiny brushes, her many exacting oil paintings on these period instruments trained her in the meticulous, nuanced detail she now renders in these cloud paintings.


The 12 sky scapes on view are layered paint, and yet Burr lets the tooth of the canvas show through.  This delicacy of brush reveals a craftsman at work, allowing the viewer depth of passage - time to contemplate and appreciate.  Her fine wisping brushstrokes reveal a work that breathes, with marks that are controlled and subtle.  As a result, the expansive clouds are intimate; a place for meditation.


The titles of Burr's paintings are the birth dates of her family and friends.  This dedication is touching, as are all the paintings from 2019 in the gallery.  Most of the oil on canvas workds are 18 x 24 inches, a few 24 x 30 inches; their size brings the viewer in closer, allowing the study of each masterful detail.


571 Projects in Stowe, owned by Sophie Bréchu-West, is an intimate 400-square-foot space, offering private viewings by appointment.  stillpointL sky scapes by Berta Burr is a fitting exhibit.  "Berta's paintings are powerful," Bréchu-West said, "because they have such peace - statement of calm in these chaotic times."  The clouds, like pearls in a blue dome, of air, are a haven where you can be alone with Berta Burr's poetic, atmospheric beauty.  This is Burr's first gallery exhibition; her sky scapes are a remarkable debut.


January 1, 2021