Through the Fire and Into Grubbs

Marlene Rye overcomes damage to her studio to open the Grubbs Gallery season
Marlene Rye, “The Ascent”, pastel on paper, 2014
Marlene Rye, “The Ascent”, pastel on paper, 2014

An abstract painter who experienced a devastating studio fire over the summer is dedicating her fall show at the Williston Northampton School to those who have helped her rebuild.

“Circle Dance,” works by Marlene Rye, will be on display from September 1-29 in the Grubbs Gallery, Reed Campus Center. A reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, September 20, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. in Grubbs.

On August 4, a fire broke out in the Paragon Arts and Industry Building on 150 Pleasant Street in Easthampton where Ms. Rye has her studio. Although quickly extinguished, the fire and the resulting water caused damage throughout the building—including the studio where Ms. Rye kept her pastel drawings.

“I waited for four hours to go into my studio to find them, in a wet box, but most of them were fine,” she wrote in an email. “It was such a huge relief, as they have been my main focus for the past year!”

As a result of the fire, paints, mats, frames, and a camera were all destroyed, leaving Ms. Rye to worry about whether she could move forward with planned fall shows and art camps. A GoFundMe campaign quickly raised the funds she needed, while friends and supporters helped her clean out her studio and move her work into storage.

“I was incredibly blessed to have such an amazing community of support,” she wrote. “I would not have been able to move forward with any of my fall shows without such amazing people around me.”

Ms. Rye said the title of her show at Williston reflects the love and support that has surrounded her during her difficulties in the past six years and that “the trees are symbolic of all that light that I receive from people in my life.”

Ms. Rye’s work has been shown nationally—including juried shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim—and has been featured in 17 solo shows in the past 20 years. She has studied under Andrew Forge, Barbara Grossman, John Moore, and Martha Armstrong, and is a graduate of Smith College and the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her M.F.A.

In the spring, Ms. Rye and her sister, Beth Znosko, collaborated with the Williston Dance Ensemble for their show, “Adrenaline Rush.” Ms. Znosko, artistic director of Clark Dance Theatre, worked with the students on structured improvisation, while during each performance Ms. Rye painted on 3’ by 6’ Plexiglas.

The Grubbs Gallery is located at 40 Park Street, Easthampton, in the Reed Campus Center and is open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 to noon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *