Graphite drawing of flowers
Mary Reilly "Flowering Hillside 2," 2020 Graphite pencil on paper 9.50h x 9w in.

Mary Reilly’s photorealistic drawings of sylvan landscapes and still lifes of wild flora are celebrations of her local Vermont terrain. Attracted to isolated, almost liminal spaces, Reilly’s conscientious details are bolstered by a hint of fantasy.

“Mary Reilly: Nature of Vermont” is on view at Garvey|Simon (New York) from April 5 – April 30, 2021.

“Ranging from sweeping, monumental scenes to intimate studies, the artist’s graphite drawings are a feat of technical prowess,” says the gallery.

Graphite drawing of a riverbank
Mary Reilly, “Riverbank 3,” 2020 Graphite pencil on paper 16h x 24w in
Graphite drawing of trees
Mary Reilly, “Riverbank 4,” 2020 Graphite pencil on paper 23.50h x 17.50w in

More from the gallery:

Mary Reilly’s laborious method of toning her paper serves as the starting point for her intricate compositions. She begins by covering the entire sheet with up to eight smooth, unmodulated coats of graphite. From here, Reilly deepens her darker tones and elevates her highlights.

At once additive and subtractive, this process allows Reilly to create subtle shifts in shade and incremental gradients that result in myriad tonal effects and explore the full diversity achievable in a gray-scale palette. This technique also lends itself to Reilly’s play with depth and scale. Whether raked views of monumental trees, or tight, jostling arrangements of seashells and leaves, the ease of her transitions belies the intricacy of her compositions.

Graphite drawing of sea shells
Mary Reilly, “Seashells 3,” 2018 Graphite pencil on paper 17.75h x 26.50w in Framed: 23.25h x 32.25w in

Reilly’s move from New York City to Northern Vermont has signaled a shift in the scale and scope of her drawings. Unbridled scenes bask in soft expanses of negative space, dramatic atmospheric effects, and prodigious plant life. There is a certain spontaneity and tranquility in her drawings that suggest an environment untouched, sequestered from interference and almost atemporal in their serenity.

She reflects, “Since my move to northern Vermont, I have become immersed in nature and the magnitude of its ever changing seasons. Images that I once traveled to find in New York City I now stumble upon in my everyday life.”

Reilly treats her subjects with reverence, acquiescing to their wildness and allowing them to command and overwhelm her pictorial plane. At once ancient and immediate, Reilly’s sylvan scenes are striking in their solitude.

An indoor/outdoor opening reception will take place at DFN Projects on Thursday, April 8 (weather permitting.) The full exhibition will also be available on Artsy.net.

Graphite drawing of corn field
Mary Reilly, “Corn Field 1,” 2019 Graphite on paper
33h x 49.50w in Framed: 41h x 57.50w in

More about Mary Reilly:

New York native Mary Reilly studied art at SUNY Purchase, the School of Visual Arts, the Art Students League of New York, and the National Academy School of Fine Arts. After a short stint as a graphic designer, Reilly then chose a career in fine art. She studied with artists Frederick Brosen and Sharon Sprung, who both work with graphite and often in photorealistic styles. Mary Reilly is devoted to drawing in graphite, her medium of choice. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in New York City since 2001, and is featured in the permanent collections at Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY, New York Historical Society, New York, NY, The Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, Little Rock, AR, The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, and the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Deb, Thank you for bringing the honor and respect bestowed upon nature by the attentions of the graphite craftsperson* Mary Reilly, who has forsaken a structured and regulated life in Urbancity for an escape to the Sylvan Nature of haphazard plants, rocks, shells, sensitively caught in the delicate web of her graphite touch.

    *I choose to restrict my definition of “Artist” to those who seek to employ, perhaps, the subjects at hand — as the pencil box is set upon a rock and the sketchbook opened to the next blank page — in the more expansive purpose of implying, suggesting, a universal aspect of Life to which we bear witness, by our very living of it. The “meaning” of a picture, therefore, often does not itself immediately or simply reveal its mystery and often may even elude the artist completely… or for an inpatient amount of time. (But boy, when happening upon it unexpectedly at some later time, and being struck as by lightning by its now clear and powerful profundity, THAT is the true ART of the work that was done that sunny day midst the ruins of the old mill.

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