Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hello...Out There!

(Yes, I'm channeling William Saroyan...thank goodness for that liberal arts degree...)

Well, it's been far too long since I last posted here. Which is not to say that I haven't been up to anything—I'm just not very good at self promotion (indeed, essentially a death sentence in this age). 

But it's a new year, a new decade, (hopefully) a new era, so—for you two or three people out there reading this, that is—stand by for posts on recent work, upcoming work, and items "from the archives." 

Friday, November 8, 2019

N.C. Wyeth at Portland Museum of Art

Check out my latest feature in Artscope Magazine! Visit for more features or to subscribe.


by Taryn Plumb

Boats both rowed and sailed converge on a distinctly Maine island: a hump of rock, with some scrubs of trees but mostly barren, a simple residence located at its central, northernmost point. The sailboats anchor in the turquoise sea; the rowboats dragged up by their mates clutter the drab sand of the shore; and several indistinct figures make their way to the house surrounded by a makeshift maze of stone walls, a muted, impassive sky above.
It is a crisp, solemn depiction, the island version of one of life’s few sureties — death.
But the 1939, egg tempera and oil on hardboard, “Island Funeral,” is also illustrative of its artist’s range of style and emotion. Described aptly as an “ideal marriage of illustration and modern painting,” it is one of the central pieces of “N.C. Wyeth: New Perspectives,” at the Portland Museum of Art. On view through January 12, 2020, the traveling exhibit is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in nearly 50 years.
The patriarch of his artistically gifted family — most notably his son, the celebrated realist Andrew Wyeth — N.C. Wyeth was one of the most commercially successful artists of his time. Yet despite — or more likely because of — that fact, he was largely shunned by fine art institutions and traditional art critics.
And while some of his commissions, including those made for The Saturday Evening Post, the National Biscuit Company and Bank of America, have an unmistakably slick, commercial feel, the PMA exhibit depicts his diversity of style, tone and color, as well as his changing perspectives over the course of his life.
To that end, the show, that was curated by PMA’s Jessica May and Christine B. Podmaniczky of the Brandywine River Museum of Art, is laid out in five distinct chapters.
Born in Needham, Massachusetts, in 1882, Wyeth early became a pupil of Howard Pyle, who urged him to visit the American west for inspiration; indeed, Wyeth did, and spent his late teens and early 20s working as a cowboy moving cattle and doing ranch chores, while also visiting the Navajo in Arizona. In 1903, at just 20 years old, his first commission appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. “Bucking Bronco” was a rollicking depiction of just that, and Wyeth went on to do many more oil on canvases interpreting the wild, boisterous nature of the west.
In contrast to these were his Native American pieces of the same time period. For instance, “In the Crystal Depths,” portrays a solitary Navajo, head bowed, navigating an elegantly detailed canoe along a calm river, while “The Silent Burial” shows a figure standing solemnly, yet resolutely, beside a hole dug in the snowy earth; he wears only a loincloth and appears to be eyeless.
By 1911, the established illustrator began a series of commissioned pieces to accompany editions of classic literature. Most notable among these — making him famous, while also considered by some to be his best work — was a set for Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.”
To read more, pick up a copy of our latest issue! Find a pick-up location near you or Subscribe Here.

Monday, August 26, 2019


Wow, well I certainly haven't updated this for some time...

Stay tuned for updates and links on my books and articles! In the meantime, DM me on Twitter, @taryn_plumb, for signed copies or any other info.

Friday, May 4, 2018

May/June Artscope: 10th Biennial State of Clay

Molding Their Visions: State of Clay in Lexington

May/June 2018



By Taryn Plumb

There are forlorn figures of bare-foot young women wearing insects as accessories.
Wooden” Trojan horses with functional wheels.
A modern-day interpretation of Cerberus, the (typically three-headed) Greek hound of Hades bearing an inscription from Virgil,
And his triple jaws forgot to bark.”
Varying in scope, size and subject matter, the unifying element of these pieces is one of the oldest artistic mediums known to humans: clay.
What does clay say and where is it going?” asked Alice Abrams, exhibit co-chair and co-founder. “It keeps expanding in its creative reach and its ability to say different things.”
It’s a question that the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society has posed for more than 20 years.
The answer — resulting in 10 exhibits over the past two decades — has varied and evolved with the times, politics, popular culture and fashion. This year is no exception, with the 10th Biennial State of Clay representing everything from women’s role in society, to family values, to ancient archetypes; as well as the inherent beauty, versatility and classic function of the age-old medium.
One of the region’s foremost shows dedicated to clay, the Biennial features the work of 70 Massachusetts artists. It will be on display at the Society’s space in Lexington, Mass. through June 3; the exhibit will also feature an artist reception and talk with juror Emily Zilber on May 6 from 2 to 5 p.m.

To read more, pick up a copy of our latest issue! Find a pick-up location near you or Subscribe Here.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Check out Artscope Magazine's 12th anniversary issue!

Barbara Peacock: Behind Closed Doors


by Taryn Plumb

She is the very image of a gypsy goddess: Spiraling dirty blonde hair, bra top and short shorts, draped atop a heap of blankets in the back of a pop-up camper, exhaling a willowy puff from a cigarette.
Scattered around her: an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts, empty travel mugs and juice cans, an errant flip-flop, chili pepper string lights, drug paraphernalia.
Her name is Jessica, and an accompanying statement to her portrait reflects the Milford, N.H. 18-year-old’s carefree spirit: “Sometimes life throws you in all sorts of directions, the most important part about life is to remember you are exactly where you need to be.”
Barbara Peacock wants to know: What’s in your bedroom? This question has prompted her to travel across the country to photograph people in one of their most intimate of spaces for a project she’s aptly titled “American Bedroom.”
It’s the raw honesty of people in America: A depiction of them in their dwelling,” said the Portland-based artist. “We really get a peek into the lives of common, everyday people. It can reveal things to us.”
To read more, pick up a copy of our latest issue! Find a pick-up location near you or Subscribe Here.

Check out more of Peacock's unique and thought-provoking work here. (She is also seeking out grants and looking for more photo subjects; contact her for more info!) 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Transcendentalism in the 21st Century

Living Deliberately in Maine: Celebrating the Idea of Thoreau

Artscope Magazine, Jan/Feb 2018
by Taryn Plumb


At first, it appears to be a touching image of mourning: A man lies on his belly in a pastoral cemetery, leaning in so close to a gravestone that his head nearly grazes it.
But take a closer look and you see that, well — he’s taking a closer look.
Not at the headstone engraved with the surname “HUNT” but, rather, at a small patch of white flowers that have sprung up out of the ground at its base. He is a botanist at work; the grave is purely incidental.
Captured by photographer S.B. Walker, the black-and-white image is part of a series taken in and around Walden Pond in Concord, Mass.
It is among a variety of works in an exhibit honoring the 200th anniversary of the birth of the celebrated transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, “We might Climb a Tree, at Least.” The show is on display through January 27 at the Maine Museum of Photographic Arts (MMPA) in Portland.
“We wanted to cover Thoreau and celebrate the bicentennial of his birth, but we wanted to do it in an updated way,” said Denise Froehlich, director of the nonprofit art association formed in 2010. “Who are the people today who are interested in transcendentalism?”

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A "Harlemite" returns to his roots

Pierre Gooding for Harlem
A native son gives back

Written by: Taryn Plumb Produced by: Tania Doles
Vanguard Law Magazine

For Pierre Gooding’s family, Harlem had always been home. But after he was born in 1984, his mother had to face some unfortunate facts: The neighborhood in the Manhattan section of New York City, rife with unemployment and homelessness, simply wasn’t a place to raise a child, or provide him with the schooling he deserved.
So she uprooted the family, landing more than 200 miles north in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The decision bred success: Gooding excelled in his studies and fostered a desire to help others by pursuing degrees in law and education.
Today, he’s taken that passion back to his birth city. Proud to once again call himself a “Harlemite,” he is a Reform Party candidate on the November 7 ballot in New York City’s 9th city council district.
“The political arena can be an efficient way to help people, if it’s utilized correctly,” Gooding says. “This city needs someone who cares.”

Not much changed

Although he had long had an interest in politics—his mother likes to recall how he stayed up all night during presidential contests to watch the Electoral College process pan out—he didn’t consider that one day he’d be reinvesting himself in Harlem.
Growing up in Haverhill, he was able to capitalize on his talents in debate, teaching and athletics: He participated in the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth, as well as the Princeton University Summer Institute for the Gifted; he scored a 1,020 on his SATs in just the 8th grade; and he ran track and cross country and served as captain of his high school tennis team.
But law was the goal. As he puts it, “I always liked to interact with people, and I thought law was a great way to do that.”
He went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology in 2006, and with a corporate law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2011. He served on many boards and committees throughout his college years—including student government—and he also earned his master’s degree in teaching from Pace University in 2008.
All the while, others around him saw a reformer in the making. He was eventually approached by the nonprofit Teach for America, whose corps of teachers provides education in low-income schools. It was then that Gooding thought: What better chance to give back than to children in Harlem, where he was born?
He saw the potential to provide his expertise in other ways, as well; he served as legal counsel for Teach For America’s inaugural alumni association, and also helped to create the organization’s current legal structure.
“It seemed like a powerful opportunity,” he says, although he adds that his parents were at first apprehensive about the teaching aspect, because it meant he would had to defer law school. “For me it was a no-brainer.”
But returning to the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City to teach English as a Second Language (ESL), he was dismayed to see that not much had changed since his youth. Affordable housing was paltry, unemployment was in the double digits and a good education was hard to attain.
The latter particularly struck him: His mother had sacrificed to provide him with opportunities he likely wouldn’t have had if they’d stayed in Harlem. For example, just on a basic literacy level, there are currently just four working libraries and two librarians in the Harlem school district.
“That has always drawn me to New York City: The need for education reform in the place I was supposed to go to school,” says Gooding, adding that, more than 25 years later, “the place I was supposed to go to school is still struggling.”

Many issues to tackle

Education is just one vital element to be addressed, he says.
He also notes a 13 percent unemployment rate, record incidences of homelessness and a widespread housing crisis. Throughout Harlem and New York City, outsiders are buying up prime investment properties and causing rental prices to “skyrocket,” he says. In the end, that creates a vicious cycle that perpetuates other social problems such as access to education and decent-paying jobs.
He suggests aggressive policy reforms that ensure locals are not priced out of Harlem housing, and that incentivize new companies taking root in the neighborhood to hire locally and invest in training and re-training.
“You have to ensure that longtime residents can benefit from the changes that come with gentrification,” Gooding says.
Then there are the simpler micro changes that can help to improve day-to-day life. In particular, he laments the axing of the “Fair Fares” subsidy program, which allowed qualifying lower income residents to purchase discounted subway tickets. Meanwhile, the neighborhood has to push to retain its identity. (You may recall the firestorm over rebranding Harlem as “SoHa” earlier this year.)
Looking ahead, Gooding says there are a plethora of opportunities for public-private partnerships that could promote technological advances and even agricultural projects in Harlem. One example of the latter is Street Leafs, a community-based hydroponics and vertical farming effort that he has been in discussions with.
“You have to be creative, proactive, see what’s going on, respond, and make sure that what you want to see happen is in conjunction with what the community wants,” he says.
Ultimately, helping to promote a better life in Harlem comes down to a “personal fight” for him.
“Every Harlemite deserves the opportunity to receive a great education, a great job and affordable housing—right here,” Gooding says. “To make that happen, Harlem needs elected officials that reflect the values of the community.”

Original story link