Mallory Lake

Mallory Lake, Camisano Vicento, 2003 Courtesy William Baczek Fine Arts Northampton, MassachusettsA recent show at William Baczek Fine Arts in Northampton, Massachusetts, testified to the perennial lure of Italy. In subtle, densely blended pastels Mallory Lake depicts villas and landscapes in Tuscany, Emilia Romagna and the Veneto, as well as the shoreline of Lake Como. This forty-work solo exhibition also included New England barns and Connecticut River Valley views—such as Birches (2004, 12" x 12")—which are fresh terrain for the artist. But Italy clearly remains her first love. Camisano Vicentino (2003, 16 1⁄4" x 16 1⁄4") exemplifies her style. While she occasionally uses a wide-screen or vertical format, the square is her signature working space. Artists have always responded to two elements of Italy, the richness of its history and the quality of its light. In this image Lake melds the centuries-old resonance of a classical-style villa with the atmospheric drama of peach bloom light, which provides a luminous backdrop, gilds the grass at the side of the house and pierces a lower-story window. Compositionally, the boxy architectural form anchors the square composition. At the same time, edges are slightly blurred. The artist’s sfumato touch integrates human geometry into the sketchier masses of vegetation and the almost-abstract fields of light. She finds comparable inspiration in humble vernacular structures. Farm in Emilia Romagna (2003, 12" x 12") balances the rectangular solid of a farmhouse with a strong diagonal progression of cypress trees which bisect the composition, leaving a wedge of radiant sky. Lake’s land-near-sunset, rather than the bright blue of picture-postcard Italy. Her soft-focus palette of greens, golds and pinks is sumptuous but subdued. This poetic indistinctness belongs to the landscape tradition of Whistler and Inness, who transcended touristic topographies in search of a more rarefied spirit of place. Mallory Lake has exhibited throughout New England, as well as in Santa Fe and California. Her work appears in the permanent collections of the Boston Public Library, the Currier Gallery of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, and the Rose Museum at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts. William Baczek Fine Arts, 36 Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts 01060. Telephone (413) 587-9880. On the web at

American Arts Quarterly, Spring 2004, Volume 21, Number 2.