"The Mill in Fog," by Christopher Volpe
"The Mill in Fog," by Christopher Volpe

Lowell has gotten under painter Christopher Volpe's skin -- literally.

Volpe, a Western Avenue Studios artist, presents Dream Diary, a collection of recent oils inspired by Lowell's mill buildings and rooftops, at Loft 3, the gallery at 194 Middle St., one floor above Life Alive Café.

It opens on Feb. 21 with a reception from 5-8:30 p.m. and is on view through March 30.

While painting the abstract landscapes for his first Lowell show, his fingers became stained with one of the colors he kept reaching for and stayed that way for weeks.

"Phthalo blue has incredible staining ability -- it gets under your nails and skin and won't go away," said Volpe. "But it's the color that the paintings seemed to be telling me to use. When mixed down with darks, it's a deep midnight blue and that's the mood I wanted for these Lowell landscapes."

Artist’s Books by Gail Smuda at University Gallery at UML
Artist's Books by Gail Smuda at University Gallery at UML

Volpe, a transplant from New York, rented what he thought would be a temporary studio at WAS about three years ago. But the city and its art scene drew him in and now he calls Lowell home.

"There's amazing enthusiasm and energy in the arts here," he said.

Visit www.christophervolpe.com for info.

Art picks

  • HANDMADE BOOKS: As part of Women's History Month and Lowell Women's Week, the UMass Lowell Art Department presents A Retrospective of Handmade Artist's Books by Gail Smuda in the University Gallery in McGauvran Hall, Wilder St., UML South Campus, Feb. 25-March 22. Smuda, a New Hampshire-based artist, has created these one-of-a-kind books over 30 years as an artist. She visits the campus for a talk and reception on Tues., Feb. 26, 3-5 p.m. www.uml.edu/Dept/Art/pdfs/Exhibit_Gail_Smuda for info.
  • IMPROVISED ART: 119 Gallery partners with UnchARTed Gallery and Lowell Telecommunications Corp. in XFest 2013 Friday-Sunday, Feb. 22-24. On tap are improvised music, visuals, movement and poetry featuring 25 visiting artists and 70 local artists. Visit www.119gallery.org for schedule.
  • ART DEMO: Don Ouellette presents a watercolor demo at the Chelmsford Art Society meeting at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, at Summer Place, 20 Summer St., Chelmsford. Ouellette, a landscape painter working primarily in oils and watercolors, has a studio at Western Ave. Studios and enjoys painting rural New England scenes. Free and open to all.

Nancye Tuttle's email is nancyedt@verizon.net.