It’s hip to be square — if you are a two-dimensional work of art, that is. Currently on display at Seaside Art Gallery is “Outer Banks Squared,” an exhibit of art measuring 12-inch by 12-inch. Square work is the latest trend according to Seaside owner Melanie Smith. “The square shape is really modern in the art world right now,” she says. “It’s easy to group and easy to balance.”

As the exhibit is also about artists creating Outer Banks imagery, the works make perfect vacation souvenirs, says Smith.

The show features entries from the Outer Banks, the southeast and as far away as Israel. Mediums include watercolor, acrylic, oil, and etchings.

The Outer Banks is represented through atmospheric scenes — quiet or stormy seas and skies, summery sun-soaked sand, horizon lines that melt into the water, vibrant colors and lively brushstrokes that form crabs, a stand of deep purple and yellow irises, brilliant yellow rubber duckies, dense green bamboo, and a daybreak explosion of pink, red, yellow, green and blue.

Inspiration comes from iconic images such as children playing at the surf’s edge, a favorite ice cream stand, horses in the dunes, shells and sea glass, gulls and turtles, wind, sunrises, sunsets, beckoning rocking chairs, and patterned lily pads. From a grouping of a seahorse, whelk and scallop to an effervescent margarita in a wine glass, the Outer Banks in its many moods sings forth from the canvases.

It’s interesting to note the diversity in interpretation. Liat Polotsky from Israel was taken with the shade of green she discovered on the Wright Brother’s Memorial’s grassy hill. She told Smith that that color of green doesn’t exist in nature in her country. Using oil paint, she created two abstracted landscapes with a thin wash of yellow and green to capture wind across the hill.

“It’s really fascinating how (our) home looks through other eyes,” Smith says.

For some artists, abstraction affords them the freedom to impart a sense of atmosphere and emotional content by paring down their compositions to bands of vibrating color to form seas and skies. Others rely on more literal and intricate measures to painstakingly paint a porthole view of a dock scene.

Impressionism is relied upon to create a painterly deer at the edge of the woods or a horse on the beach.

Roger Shipley uses calligraphic watercolor strokes to fashion poetic ocean scenes with hints of varying skies.

Verdant, textural oils sculpt coastal and wetland foliage while flat, pastel swathes of color compliment with pale pink and blue skies in the work of John Houglum. His six land/waterscapes each emit a distinct mood and type of habitat from an intimate fishing channel to a majestic Outer Banks dune.

After viewing “Outer Banks Squared,” make sure you take in the work by new Seaside Gallery artist Lori Goll. The Leesburg painter displays nine pastel works that speak to her love of nature. Working from photographs and from nature, Goll has captured the atmosphere, beauty and history of the coast in her art. From a vintage beach cottage almost swallowed by sand and a seaside sunrise that lends a sense of awakening to a stormy seascape with a contemplative figure staring out to sea under a darkening sky and a mysterious November dawn with orange light caressing sand and sky, Goll has it in spades regarding establishing mood.

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