Artists use nature to explore their visions in 'Super Natural'
Linda Marston-Reid, For the Poughkeepsie Journal
Published July 26, 2017
For hundreds of years, nature has inspired and moved artists to create.
Thomas Cole, regarded as the founding father of the Hudson River School of Art, once said this about nature: “How I have walked … day after day, and all alone, to see if there was not something among the old things which was new!”
“Pairs White Rhizomes," by Charles Geiger. (Photo: Courtesy photo)
For the six artists exhibiting in the "Super Natural" exhibit at Matteawan Gallery, they have used nature as a jumping-off point to explore their personal vision with drawings, paintings and prints, bringing a fresh viewpoint to paintings inspired by nature.
“May Day/Domestic Bliss,” by Julia Whitney Barnes. (Photo: Courtesy photo)
Julia Whitney Barnes creates work with startling colors and compositions created from composite sketches of nature studies. This method may be the traditional way the Hudson River painters created their work, but Whitney Barnes brings surprising combinations together to create compositions that may symbolize more than beauty in nature. For instance, the painting “May Day/Domestic Bliss” incorporates a stunning pink sky with clouds behind a lovely vase of cut flowers. The vase sits on a slice of log; perhaps a symbol of the trees in nature consumed for the wood utilized in the homes that are the framework of domesticity. A plaid tablecloth creates a horizon of the human-made meeting nature.
Matt Frieburghaus / "Bay," is part of the "Super Natural" exhibit in Beacon. (Photo: Courtesy photo)
Matt Frieburghaus approaches nature initially through capturing the scene with a photograph, which he then abstracts digitally using repetition of pixels in horizontal striations, creating minimalist landscapes. While Frieburghaus takes the minimal approach, Charles Geiger takes pieces from nature and creates flourishing depictions of rhizomes, leaves and botanicals in his paintings. Approaching “Pairs White Rhizomes,” viewers will feel they are looking through a lush growth of plant life, but looking at each painted image closely, many are not identifiable. Geiger calls these works “Quasibotanics,” depictions of nature and the good that derives from being surrounded by its healing properties.
Eleanor Sabin’s “Bushwhacker," on view in "Super Natural." (Photo: Courtesy photo)
At first glance, Eleanor Sabin’s “Bushwhacker” is a large piece depicting a forest in black and white. Looking closer, viewers can see cut tree trunks in the foreground of the painting. Abstract lines intersect the trees, almost as if they are laser measurements of the spaces created by chopping out the forest. Sabin’s artist statement provides her thoughts on this work: “… I choose to depict scenes in which nature has been purposefully arranged and controlled — whether by my digital manipulation of reference photos or the portrayal of landscapes physically altered by others.”
"Fly" by Cecilia Whittaker-Doe. (Photo: Courtesy photo)
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe selects components from observing nature and then adds and subtracts images creating abstracted multilayered compositions. Viewers could imagine they are looking at a meandering stream in “Fly,” with river rocks, shore and sky all visible from an angular perspective. Gabe Brown takes a similar approach of selecting beauty from nature. In “Ash Grove,” a sheaf of delicate leaves is painted on an abstract layered background. Brown utilizes touches of hard-edge abstract designs as a foil against the recognizable forms from nature, ultimately creating a universe where these colors and designs live peacefully together.
Linda Marston-Reid is the president of Arts Mid-Hudson. The column appears every other week in Enjoy! Contact her at 845-454-3222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go
"Super Natural" is on exhibit through Aug. 21 at Matteawan Gallery, 436 Main St., Beacon. Gallery hours are noon-5 p.m., Friday-Monday, and by appointment; 845-440-7901; email@example.com; visit http://www.matteawan.com/