Seasonal exhibitions are not unusual at any art gallery, but at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum in Boston, interpretations of how the seasons transform its landscape provide a standard theme for photographers and fine artists. Currently, the Arboretum offers two unique exhibitions on its website: “Resilience: Art in the time of COVID-19” by Lois Cremmins and “If Winter Comes…The Promise of Each Year in the Paintings of Anthony Apesos.”
Cremmins’ “Resilience” reflects the artist’s message and personal journey to find a positive, restorative way to move through each day of the COVID-19 health crisis. Visiting the Arboretum over a year of seasons, she was inspired to create exuberant works in watercolor and collage reflective of her experience of the landscape.
“As spring unfolded into summer,” she said, “I could sense that the plants and animals, sun and sky, were carrying on in spite of the pandemic. And I wanted to make artworks as triumphant and defiant in the face of COVID-19 as I felt the entire Arboretum was being.”
As a fitting complement to Cremmins’ theme, her work and recent Arboretum focus came to the attention of staff through a COVID-19 initiative — the Arboretum’s goal to remain open for all and establish visitor information tents at a number of its gates. This welcome outreach beckoned and served many visitors over summer and autumn, including New York transplant Cremmins, and contributed a providential introduction to her art.
Also on view in the virtual realm is a seasonal show by Tony Apesos, a previous exhibitor at the Arboretum. Apesos’ oil paintings of winter invite viewers on a rich, almost spiritual adventure into the collections during this season of sparse, intense beauty. His portrayal of winter has been shaped by his close observations and decades of Arboretum walks. It captures New England with exhilarating moments of golden light or the quiet of blue-shadowed snow.
Apesos — artist, professor, scholar, and art historian ― titled his exhibition “If Winter Comes…The Promise of Each Year in the Paintings of Anthony Apesos.” The title is a paraphrase of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” — “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” As the fates would have it, this theme would resonate meaningfully as we came through 2020.
These exhibitions both provide glimpses of that winter, and perhaps the feeling of spring being within our grasp.
The exhibits can be viewed on the Arboretum website. Apesos’ work will be available through Feb. 7.