Experience Ekphrasis: Art and Poetry at PMA

Posted on March 7th, 2017

Artword at the Portland Museum of Art is an event based on the ancient practice of writing poetry in response to visual art. An ekphrastic poem offers the reader insight into visual artwork that the eye might not see. April 14th I will join other poets in sharing a written interpretation of a piece of visual artwork that is currently on display and part of the permanent collection at the PMA. My poem is inspired by the piece At Cassis, painted by my cousin Russell Cheney (see below).

I was born the year he died, and I grew up next to his studio. Although I never knew him, his art inspired me to follow in the family tradition. The last stanza of my poem reflects that connection:

Your backs are turned from
the water view. You look directly
at me, as if to say,
           I see you there
as you see me:
           through a brush lightly,
across a century.

—Kate Cheney Chappell

Art Cassis by Russell Cheney; Courtesy Portland Museum of Art

Art Cassis, 1930, oil on canvas
Russell Cheney (1881-1945); Portland Museum of Art

For more information on this event: portlandmuseum.org/events

Winter Solstice: Let Your Inner Light Shine Out

Posted on December 21st, 2016

Winter Solstice: Let Your Inner Light Shine Out

At this turning point of the year I like to imagine my inner light getting stronger as the days get longer. We can be the light to each other in dark times. There are many ways, many mediums through which our spirits shine. Art is one. May you enjoy peace and love this season, and let your particular light shine as a beacon.

Below are some links to other lights I have shown (shone) with:

Monhegan December shows

Annie Hidell hosted 6 Monhegan artists in Kennebunkport to benefit a number of charitable causes.

Carlisle Charitable Foundation
Voices from the Heart
Monhegan Museum of Art & History
Graves Library, Kennebunkport

Ramblers Way new store opening in Hanover, N.H.

Our company has a beautiful line of fine clothing, ethically made for men and women in America. Our daughter Eliza is the women’s designer and has designed the stores as well. We were warmly welcomed by the Hanover community this week.

Featured Artist
I am the current featured artist for Barbara Stroud’s ArtFoodHome blog.

Music for the Eyes: Matisse’s Artist Books

Posted on October 27th, 2016

Left: Kate engages museum goers in the art books of Henri Matisse. Right: USM Center for Book Arts director, Becky Goodale, expounds on artist books in a panel discussion at the Portland Museum that Kate helped organize.

Music for the Eyes: Matisse’s Artist Books

I was excited when Portland Museum of Art asked me to give a gallery walk/talk at their current exhibit (through Dec. 31, 2016): The Art Books of Henri Matisse. Rhythm, color, poetry – all music for the eyes – dance around the space. From the story of Pasiphae, mother of the Minotaur (mythological half-man half-bull) to poems of Charles d’Orléans and Stephane Mallarmé, to Matisse’s tour de force: Jazz, this show brought me back to my youth.

I studied poetry, painting and printmaking in Paris as a student. All the text in these artist books is in French, of course, so I translated. What a gift to me to realize the meaning of Matisse’s words, coupled with his exuberant circus-inspired images in Jazz. I always loved Matisse’s colorful cutouts. And have been inspired by his approach to pochoir printmaking and collage. Now he has spoken to me in his own handwritten words, reminding me that happiness comes from a ‘bonne journée de travail’ (a good day’s work), to pay attention to the process and the journey (vs. “success”) and, above all, to make art from love, not hate.

Young painters, painters misunderstood, or understood too late, bear no hate. Hate is an all-devouring parasite. One creates not in hate, but in love. Competition is necessary, but hate…love on the other hand sustains the artist.

HAPPINESS. Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.
Happy are those who sing with all their hearts, from the bottoms of their hearts. To find joy in the sky, the trees, the flowers. There are always flowers for those who want to see them.

…for most people: success= prison, and an artist should never be a prisoner. Prisoner? An artist should never be: prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation, prisoner of success, etc.

—Henri Matisse
translated by Sophie Hawkes

Ancient Roots: Making Art in Ireland

Posted on July 13th, 2016



A rainless (!) ten days on the remote Western coast of Ireland at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation inspired our group (7 of us from Peregrine Press, 1 from Ireland, 1 from Iceland) to respond to the ancient stone circles, burial mounds and dolmens. Here where the sea meets land crisscrossed by ancient walls and tilled fields my soul connected with my own maternal roots and the spiritual resolve of the Irish people. I learned non-toxic techniques of printmaking from Catherine Kernan and loved the time with friends making art together.

Last Chance! Peregrine Press at 25 Ends Soon.

Posted on June 22nd, 2016

Earth Matrix I

Last Chance! Peregrine Press at 25 Ends its 2 Month Run

“The Art of the Hand Pulled Print” has broken attendance records at the Portland Public Library. The variety and depth of the work of this amazing printmaking cooperative is worth a detour to the Library on Congress Street before it ends on June 25. I have been Co-President of Peregrine Press for the past 2 years, and still marvel at the talent and “working togetherness” that this group, the oldest of its kind, embodies. Bring your kids – there is a fun game they can play at the exhibit.

Focus: Printmaking opens at Greenhut

Posted on February 12th, 2016

It’s February in Maine and the groundhog may have gone back to his den, but printmakers climbed out from all over the state for this invitational exhibit at Greenhut Gallery in Portland. Techniques from etching to woodcut to paper lithography (naming just a few), makes for a dynamic show. It runs through the month, and includes a printmaking talk and demo on February 20.

Above: I am standing next to my collagraph/ monoprint, “Ocean Gyre.” Our oceans appear timelessly pristine, but below the surface and throughout the feeding columns, small particles of man-made plastic are wreaking havoc with this vast ecosystem.

FMI: greenhutgalleries.me

Below: Jeff Woodbury joins me- he had a striking screenprint in the show. Jeff and I are co- Presidents of Peregrine Press, Maine’s oldest cooperative nonprofit press. The Press is planning a 25 anniversary show May— to June—2016. Stay tuned!

Photos by David Wade, whose portraits of Maine artists just came down from the UNE Photography exhibit.

“WE ARE ALL RELATED – science shows us the ways – May we be inspired to care for the earth in our day.”

Posted on December 26th, 2015


Rachel Carson left us a legacy of understanding about the interrelatedness of species on earth and the fragile web of life, under duress, since she first wrote “Silent Spring”. This article by Bob Keyes in the Maine Sunday Telegram (12/20/15) shows her influence on my life and my work. One thing I learned in making the sculpture over four years is the need for collaboration on a big project like this. Addressing the current crisis in global warming requires the same spirit of collaboration. My hope is that we will respond creatively and together make a difference. “Man is a part of nature”, said Carson, “and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”

You can read the full article here: www.pressherald.com

Art as Bridge to Science

Posted on November 15th, 2015

photo © Hartford Courant

“The stunningly beautiful way in which art and science intersect”

These are the words Dennis Bisgaard, Kingswood-Oxford’s Head of School used to describe the sculpture that now inhabits the entrance of their new Science building.

I chose the double helix form to emphasize life in it’s myriad forms. Each turn of the steel and paper form reveals new creatures and colors as it moves and the viewer moves around the space. I wanted to encourage students to think about the interconnections between species and to be curious about how our ecosystems work in the web of life.

Art as a bridge to science, science informing art.

Please see the article about the sculpture in the Hartford Courant here www.courant.com/community/west-hartford/hc-west-hartford-kingswood-oxford-kate-chappell-art-1114-20151113-story.html

Singers, Strings, Sculpture

Posted on October 3rd, 2015


Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, CT threw open the doors of their beautiful L.E.E.D. Certified Science building on Friday, September 25 for the opening and dedication of my hanging sculpture, All Life Interrelated. As students sang a cappella or played the Wyvern Waltz on strings written for the occasion, school leaders welcomed the crowd, among them three of my five children, my husband Tom, classmates and friends. It was a mild and magical evening, and as night fell, lights from the big starfish support illuminated my three double helices “Air”, “Earth”, and “Water”. The steel and paper sculpture is 15′ x 5′ x 5′ (100lbs) and incorporates images on both sides of creatures from these realms, and reflects my concern for the care of the natural world. My hope is that the piece will be a bridge between art and science, and generate lots of teaching opportunities at this rigorous private day school. Years ago as a student myself there, I had written about the discovery of DNA’s structure. For me, it felt like coming full circle after working on this piece for the last four years.

Open Studio Celebration

Posted on July 14th, 2015

My Open Studio to Celebrate All Life Interrelated

Maine artists, friends and families gathered at my studio on the 3rd floor of the Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook June 25 for a farewell look at the hanging sculpture I have been working on for the last four years. Inspired by the double helix as a symbol of the continuity of life, All Life Interrelated is a steel and paper sculpture (approximately 14′x 5′ overall), now safely installed in its permanent home in the new science building at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Ct.

Many people who helped me with the project were there to celebrate: Nelson Bruns, who constructed one of the steel armatures and the starfish holder, and did the final hanging; Laura Savard, who helped with many aspects of the fabrication including the hand-cut matrices based on slime mold that are a motif throughout; Dawna Bemis, our prudent project manager and keeper of the timeline, and Sharmon Toner, my intern from USM who did all the UV varnishing.

Thanks to son Matt and friend Wendy for delicious nibbles from his restaurant, Gather ; and Vena’s Fizz House for delightfully composed natural mock-tails and cocktails. Among those attending were art friends from Peregrine Press and Kennebunk, daughters Eliza Chappell and Sarah Armentrout, with husband Nick, Gabrielle Melchionda from MadGabs and other neighbors in the building, Jan Piribeck and Becky Goodale from USM, Amy Woodhouse from South Freeport, Beth Stoddard, Peter and Pam Plumb, Scott Teas and Pamela Hawkes and Alice Spencer from Portland, Mary Jewel from California, Michael and Leona Bruns, and many others. Thank you all for coming and supporting me along the way!

© 2017 Kate Cheney Chappell - All Rights Reserved.