Boston Globe, November 2010
Artist Vincent Crotty Celebrates 20-Year Affiliation with Aisling Gallery In Hingham
By Kieran Jordan
Irish artist Vincent Crotty, from Kanturk, County Cork, arrived in Boston in 1990, hoping to further his art training and launch his career as a visual artist. “My expectation was that I was here for two months,” says Vincent. “I was totally motivated, but I didn’t think it would take 20 years!”
Now a dual citizen and long-time Dorchester resident, Crotty’s work has been exhibited and collected throughout the US, Ireland, and beyond. Looking back on his two decades in the Boston area, Crotty gives thanks to John and Maureen Connolly, owners of the Aisling Gallery in Hingham, who encouraged his painting career right from the start. Crotty and the Connollys will mark their 20-year affiliation with an exhibition of “Recent Paintings” which will open on Friday, November 19 at the Aisling Gallery.
Vincent recalls his first meeting with the Connollys soon after he arrived in Boston. “Someone said there was a new Irish gallery in Hingham. I took a bus down from Quincy Center in heavy snow. I was wearing Wellingtons. I brought some paintings down in a black plastic rubbish bag!”
“John Connolly told me that I needed five years, at least, to get more training in drawing. I nearly died. The thought of being away from home for five years was unbearable! But I started showing my work there right away, and the Connollys gave me 100 bucks to buy paints.”
Soon enough, Crotty’s work began to sell, and over time, he has developed a reputation as a passionate, original and prolific artist. “Maureen and John were showing my work at festivals all over America,” Vincent says. “The phone calls would come… ‘You sold three, you sold five.’ People were beginning to collect my work.”
It was an auspicious beginning for the young Crotty, but his path as an artist has not been a quick or easy road to success. He recalls the unpredictable and personal nature of being an artist. “In my second year here, I got very depressed, and then all the paintings sucked!” he says. “Maureen calls it my ‘Brown Period.’”
After secondary school (high school) in Ireland, Vincent had trained in sign painting and faux finishes, and he has often supplemented his art career by continuing these old-world trades in decorative painting. His fanciful signs and atmospheric interior designs can be seen in many restaurants, pubs, and churches in Greater Boston. A self-proclaimed “vibe creator,” Vincent is practical and grateful for his wide-ranging painting skills, especially during lean times. But he has always remained committed to the canvas, and life as a visual artist.
Since his early days in America, Vincent has worked doggedly to further his skill in drawing and painting, by traveling to workshops throughout the US and seeking out expert teachers in the Boston area. He has been recognized with numerous awards, in juried shows from Duxbury, Mass. to Wexford, Ireland. He has been commissioned to paint portraits of well-known figures in the Irish arts, including musicians Joe Madden and Larry Reynolds, and poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. His work has been featured on many book and album covers, and his paintings are in demand for personal collectors and Irish organizations.
“I have a lot of gratitude for the Connollys” Vincent says, reflecting on his career. “They helped establish my name as an artist, which is essential, to survive at what I do. They are always enthusiastic and supportive. They’ve given so much to Irish cultural and community causes. They’ve put on evenings of poetry, Irish literature readings, music lessons. They’ve built a South Shore community among people who otherwise wouldn’t know each other.”
The Aisling Gallery is a charming and inviting space which, indeed, has become a well-known landmark for Irish arts on the South Shore. Maureen Connolly exhibits Vincent’s work year-round, but the upcoming show will feature new paintings that are some of Vincent’s personal favorites — a mixture of Ireland and New England, “from intimate, small-town streetscapes to the misty vistas of the Irish coast.”
“My work has gotten stronger, pretty consistently, over the years,” says Vincent, “and it’s at its strongest ever this year. My mother’s passing away this summer gave me a desire to honor her, and my gratitude for her. I’ve been digging a bit deeper as I paint.”
“I do operate on both side of the Atlantic,” he continues. “When I first came here, I lived in Quincy for two years, Mattapan for three years… then six months in Hull, and Dorchester ever since. The South Shore is full of fabulous memories for me. It’s the place where I found my joy.”
Vincent Crotty’s “Recent Paintings” will be on display from Friday, November 19 through Christmas, with an opening reception on the 19th from 7:30 to 10:00 pm. The Aisling Gallery is located on Route 3A in Hingham, Mass. For more information, call the gallery at 800.752.9389