Versions of the Truth

September’s exhibition at the Harlow Gallery, “Versions of the Truth”, will feature the work of two very talented Maine artists, Ian B. Ormon of Leeds and Melissa Post van der Burg of Augusta.

The idea behind “Versions of the Truth”, is described by the artists:

“ Just ask any living American president–we all have different ideas as to what constitutes the truth.  Painters working within naturalism, realism, impressionism, etc. are all involved with creating a virtual frame of reference.  This “truth” is then accepted or rejected by the viewer within that created frame of reference.  A believable truth from one artist’s work rarely can be successfully interjected into another artist’s work despite the fact that both may be labeled realistic, naturalist, etc.  Like witnesses to an accident, each records and creates a unique VERSION OF THE TRUTH.”


Melissa Post van der Burg explains further:

“This show, Versions of the Truth, offers a wide-open opportunity to include many different images and mediums.  I have always been equally interested in drawing and painting in both oil and watercolor, so this is a great pleasure for me.

There is a great mystery in the way one medium seems to fit a particular image better than another—sometimes it’s the fragility of a graphite drawing—sometimes a transparent watercolor, or sometimes a full-blown oil painting.  Painters can be like detectives, finding just the right medium for the task at hand.

I want the viewer to see and enjoy the tremendous diversity in this show.  I want each person to feel the excitement I felt every step of the way, from the easel, to hanging the pictures in the gallery.”



Ian B. Ormon elaborates:

“As a representational painter, I have been preoccupied by two somewhat unrelated truths.  The “plein air” interest centers on the flora, wetlands and bog which surrounds by small farm.  This type of landscape, once labeled disdainfully as “a swamp” had now become one of the remaining vestiges of wilderness in our rapidly developing region.  Its kaleidoscopic arrangement and rearrangement of light and color due to the weather, time of day and progress of seasons offers a never-ending source of inspiration which can be distilled and emphasized by a painter.

The second direction is the ironic and occasional virtual reality of trompe l’oei whose truths bear heavily upon the viewer’s frame of reference and empathy.  Wether the viewer is aware of “church keys” and St. Peter’s role in forming the church; where a final swig of whiskey has been hidden; or the irony of being invited to gamble with the “Holy Family” only adds another dimension of conjecture to the collected “truths” of surfaces and forms in these arrangements.”

Biographical information on the artists follows:


Melissa Post van der Burg was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, and grew up in a family of amateur artists.  “Drawing was a huge part of our lives, much the way video games are for kids today.  We spent hours and hours drawing.”

A self-taught artist, Melissa has a broad range of work experiences, including 7 years as an ecumenical missioner and pastor of a small church in Western Maine.

Turning to painting as a second career has been an easy transition.  “I’ve always been so interested in art—in the power of images to speak the truths that are so often too difficult for us to speak in any other way.  Painting has the perfect balance of on-going technical challenge and deeply fulfilling accomplishment for me.”

Ian B. Ormon’s paintings have been exhibited and have occasionally received awards in Maine juried shows including: Norway, The Maine Art Gallery in Wiscasset, the Maine Open Juried Show in Waterville, the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, The Atrium at L.A. College in Lewiston and Turner Center for the Arts.  His one person exhibits include;  Hebron Academy, LA Arts, Lancaster Lounge at Bowdoin College, Now Gallery in Farmington and Turner Center for the Arts.

A retired Maine Art Educator, Ian received degrees from the University of Maine at Gorham, and RISD.  He currently paints and maintains a small farmstead in Leeds.

Other artistic endeavors include the production of silver jewelry and writing.  His latest book, entitled “Just Leave Me in the Privy” (2006) is a collection of poems and short stories.  Ormon’s paintings and books are available for sale in a gallery at the farm.  It is open by chance or appointment from May to November.