News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 28, 2018
Jill Hoy Gallery opens for the season

Jill Hoy

Jill Hoy describes herself as very much an American painter, with bold, fearless and uncompromising work.

Photo by Tina Oddleifson Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Tina Oddleifson

It’s hard to imagine Stonington without the Jill Hoy Gallery, and fortunately it will continue to be a fixture on Main Street despite the building being sold this winter.

Longtime resident Bob Dodge who owned the house and adjacent barn where the gallery has operated since 1986, retired to California last year. But new owners, Gail and Tom Davis from Massachusetts have allowed Hoy to remain in the space, “for this year and hopefully onward,” said Hoy.

The gallery opens for the season this weekend and is open every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Columbus Day, and for First Friday art events in Stonington.

The space was the former livery stable for the granite company in Stonington and has been the perfect place for Hoy’s artwork for the past 32 years. Owning her own gallery has been “the best and smartest thing I’ve ever done,” said Hoy. “It’s allowed me to make a living.” She feels the gallery has helped people see the world differently by viewing her work all in one space. Her first gallery on the island was located on King Row in Deer Isle village.

Hoy’s oil paintings are distinctive, alive and immediately recognizable. Bold, bright colors with fluid and rhythmic brush strokes, characterize her work. She paints en plein air, except for in winter when she does figurative narratives based on what she sees. Her subject matter captures life and events on the island, and her portraits are of individuals well known in the community. She likes documentation because things are always changing, and she paints subjects that “speak to the essence of this place,” she says. “I go for those kernels that make it such a soulful place for people.” She credits American painters Fairfield Porter, Alice Neel and Charles Burchfield with influencing her work, along with Matisse.

After being part of the art scene on Deer Isle for decades, Hoy reminisces about the many great painters that came from this place. “I’m becoming a bit of a grand dame myself, it’s pretty wild,” she says. “I feel like I am channeling many voices I have heard over the years and carrying on a tradition of documenting events on the island.”

At this stage of her life as an artist, Hoy says she is finally becoming the painter she wanted to be. After the loss of her husband, painter Jon Imber in 2014, Hoy has spent time getting reacquainted with who she is on her own. She describes her current work as being more lyrical, and looser than it was in the past.

She is concerned that the art of looking at a painting is endangered, because of the bombardment of images on social media, and hopes people will really spend the time with her work. “Art can be such a nourishing experience,” she said.