Past Perfect

Winter never looked so wonderful.

"I want to be there right now" - that's what Marianne Stillwagon hears when people view her New England scenes.

The charming prints may have been inspired by a real place, say her hometown of Amherst or the Milford Oval, but the scenes are not of today. Probably not of yesteryear either, but they are a romanticized version of the past, before the telephone poles and strip malls desecrated the view. She paints villages in all the seasons, taking peak moments and making them permanent.

Stillwagon's work may remind some of Grandma Moses with the flattening of perspective, but her style is anything but naive or "outsider." Stillwagon has a graphic design background and considers her work "contemporary primitive."

The originals are painted in acrylics and she sells the prints at gift and primitives shows across the country and online. Even people in California appreciate the old New England aesthetic. Runs are less than 500 and editions are signed and numbered.

Recently, Stillwagon painted an Amherst Village scene on glass balls for the town's 250th anniversary and she plans to offer simple original paintings on the web, too.

Her work is available at the Gallery at Wellsweep in Hillsborough, Frame Depot in Milford and Whimsey Square Gift Shop in Amherst. She also accepts commissions for home portraits in pen and ink. ($125, framed $250, 11" x 14")

- Susan Laughlin

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