Wellesley - In 1970, the Class of '49 at Dana Hall School made a gift of a wrought-iron gate. Installed at the entrance to a classroom in the studio wing of the main building, it turned the room into a small art gallery.
One of the hidden treasures of the western suburbs, the gallery has been a launching platform for several artists who have built widespread reputations.
This year, Dana Hall Gallery has hosted works on paper by members of the Boston Women's Caucus for Art, fabric art my New England quiltmakers and collages by science illustrator Sue Simon.
Currently on the walls are photographs by six Boston-area photographers, all former students of Minor White at MIT. The show, which will run through May 11, is titled "New Work - Six Photographers," and features free-lance photographer Barbara M. Marshall of Chestnut Hill, photo-journalist Mark Morelli of Cambridge, Framingham resident Nicholas M. Stephens, Wellesley ophthalmologist Dr. Alvert R. Frederick Jr., mathematics professor Eric Myrvaagnes of Newton and engineering professor David Wunsch, a Belmont resident.
Scattergood-Moore says the gallery has a small but active corps of fans. One of his early picks, Sigmund Abeles, "had a big show on Newbury Street and they sold one piece. We brought him out here, and he sold six here!"
Once he had security, says Scattergood-Moore, the first outsider show he installed was the work of Radka Donnell, a quilt-maker. "Her work was very European, sort of Bauhaus," he says. "I thought she was a famous quilter." Only recently, when she came back for a reprise, did Scattergood-Moore learn he had given Donnell her first show.
A teacher at the private girls school for 30 years, the gallery director is a respected artist in his own right. His metier is charcoal and pencil. He executes many portrait commissions, specializing in men but immortalizing an occasional cat.
He is active with a loosely formed group of 14 figurative artists calling themselves "Something Human," whose work is currently on view at the Towne Gallery of Wheelock College in Boston.
When not doing a commissioned work, Scattergood-Moore tempers his classic graphic technique with considerable experiment and alteration. He gave up painting in 1970 after seeing a how by painter Lucian Freud.
"The physicality off it blew me away. I said, 'That's how you should paint, and I can't do it, and I'm never going to paint again.'" And he hasn't.
Instead, he alters his charcoal drawings to achieve the dame kind of physicality, tactility and history of the process. He will scorch his work with a blowtorch, smoke it. bury it in earth and dig it up again. Working on museum board thick enough to gorge, he will complete a drawing, then grind away parts or create high spots with fixative allowed to bubble up.
To erase, the artist likes to use a hand-held grinding wheel. In a series of portrait drawings done from photos of the English painter Francis Bacon, Scattergood-Moore ended by abrading everything but the painter's acute and knowing eye. The rest of the paper bears an inimitable history of scarring and grinding.
"It's a visceral, not an illustrative, process," he says.
Reticent about his given names, Scattergood-Moore is called Scatt by his friends. Despite the hyphen, he introduces himself as if Scattergood were his first name. It is actually his surname; he added Moore, his artist mother's maiden name, in her memory.
Born in Newton, he grew up on Cape Cod, graduated from Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, and decided to try art at the Swain School of Design. He almost quit. "The first year I was there, it was a cut-and-paste school. Ads for the local clothing mills."
Just in time, a well-heeled patron of the arts, Catherine Bullard, "remade the school and brought in good faculty," he says. Better yet, she offered the young Scattergood a summer job giving her art lessons.
His early painter-heroes were the American landscape artists Bierstadt and Ryder, both of whom lived at one time in New Bedford. Like Ryder's night scenes, Scattergood-Moore's early work was "slightly moody, except it didn't have sailboats and moons," the artist says.
After a diploma at Swain, he went on to earn a bachelor of fine arts degree at Boston University and a master's in painting at the University of Cincinnati. Divorced, the artist has lived at Claflin School Studios, an artist' studio-condominium complex, since its opening in 1987. "It's a very stable community. I'm sort of the resident uncle."
At Dana Hall, a 300-student girls school, an art course is required for graduation. Moore's skill as a teacher is demonstrated by student drawings hung around the studio. "There are different ways to look at things." Scattergood-Moore says. "Some people are good at figure-ground relationships. Some are good at detail and contours. Some are good at perspective. The thing is, everybody can learn to do all of those things."
Though he was art department head during the 1970s, Scattergood-Moore relinquished it. "so I could get back to my art work.
"You have to find a feeling and try to find a way of conveying that feeling with materials. I'm interested in pushing my drawings into a more archeological state.
"It's more than just the image. It's a journey of finding out something about myself."