Capturing the changing sky through art


The Sea Cliff Arts Council is currently hosting a new exhibition titled “Sky Gaze” by local artist Joann Gray, showcasing her profound connection with the ever-changing hues and moods of the sky. The exhibition, which opened on February 2 running until the end of the month, offers viewers an opportunity to immerse themselves in Gray’s radiant and dreamy interpretations of nature’s daily performances.

Gray, a self-proclaimed “sky watcher,” has spent the last three years honing her craft, drawing inspiration from the panoramic views outside her waterside studio in Sea Cliff. Her paintings, a departure from her original passion for printmaking, reflect her deep reverence for the interplay of light, color, and atmosphere.

“I bought a house right across from the Sea Cliff Yacht Club, and my kitchen table overlooks the water and the sky,” Gray explained. “Every morning during my coffee I’m looking at the sky and the water and how it changes with the seasons or the time of day. That really has been the inspiration for the work that I have made in the last few years.”

Gray’s works, rendered in a variety of mediums including encaustic (a form of painting with hot wax), oils, acrylic, spray paint, and collage, capture the essence of the sky over land and water. From nacreous iridescent evenings to glowing mornings, Gray said she tries to make her paintings evoke a sense of wonder and contemplation.

“No two skies are ever the same, and that’s what fascinates me,” Gray said. “What starts out as a pink and purple sky could end up blue or gray later on.”

The exhibition features a diverse range of landscapes, from pure landscapes to those with figurative attributes, such as houses and people swimming or jumping into the water off the swim dock at Sea Cliff beach. Many of Gray’s pieces include familiar icons from the village and the town, resonating deeply with local viewers.

Noelle Fiallo-Evans, the chief creative officer of the Arts Council, expressed her admiration for Gray’s ability to connect with her audience through her art.

“Jo’s exhibition has brought in a lot of new faces to the Arts Council, and we’re so thankful for the exposure and connections that are made,” Fiallo-Evans said. “Her work goes beyond the visual; it’s about connecting with nature and finding solace in its beauty.”

Gray’s dedication to art extends beyond her own creations. She has also been actively involved in teaching art to students of all ages, both at the North Shore School District and in her own art studio, making space for them to explore their imagination and enjoy the process of artmaking.

“I have always been interested in holding space for students to make art and enjoy the process and not worry so much about the product, and even to this day that’s my sensibility,” Gray said. “It’s all about the process once they’re in the zone of making art.”