Art view Paulette Thenhaus
Spirit of place
This is an exhibit especially for those artists and art viewers who question the place of traditional landscape painting today. “Spirit of Place” is a refreshing show of somewhat traditional nature paintings on view at Knox College’s Ford Center for the Fine Arts till October 12th.
The artist, Lindy Carroll, doesn’t travel to exotic places to get her imagery, but rather, examines her own terrain in paint. For example, the massive old oak tee, repeated in several of her works, is right outside her studio door. What’s intriguing is to watch Carroll, who paints the same trees over a period of three years, mature in representing them. That maturity is seen in composition, paint handling and subjective color choices. Early images from 2004, such as “Red Maple” and “Two Hickories,” have a physical tangibility, primarily due to impasto oils (applied perhaps too heavily and consistently). By 2005 the branches in paintings are more lilting and rhythmic. “Willow Sentinel” has the sweeping drama of a feathery fan dance in orange, yellow and pink.
It is around this time Carroll’s weight of paint and layering of color become more varied and descriptive of the subject. It’s interesting to note where she’s made corrections in the positioning of a dog in “Tom’s Maple.” The original dog is over–glazed but appears as a ghost image in the finished painting. I think the searching and the leaving traces behind makes the canvas more alive. It gives the viewer a clue to the artist’s thoughts and second thoughts while painting.
Unfortunately, there is only one window view, but it is a beauty with fat, white flakes outside and a brilliant magenta clylamen plant in the warm interior. This viewer wants to say, ”More!” Another minor disappointment is the number of very small works (about 4” x 6”). Most are done in plein air or from memory. They seem like picturesque “fillers” between the serious work.
Having said that, in her most recent work from 2007, Carroll takes up the challenge of the big canvas with great success. In “Bach and the Trees,” a 72” x 60” canvas, nothing is static, especially the composition. The vantage point is from above, perhaps in a tree, looking down at evening rush–hour traffic. Cars and trucks are elongated to suggest speed, and headlights flash yellow or white. Tall trees alongside the highway sway as if to blaring car radios. Color contrasts are everywhere: orange/deep blue for the trees against sky, while red/green for cars and earth set up a high-pitched color drama.
Although quiet houses were part of her previous compositions, the introduction of a highway and speeding cars sets up a more contemporary dialogue about man and landscape (nature). There’s much more to be explored in this area.
As to my original comment on the validity of landscape painting today, if a serious, young artist such as Lindy Carroll finds it relevant, challenging, and full of new directions, then maybe it’s worth a second look.
Opening at the Galesburg Civic Art Center on October 5 – November 3 are dramatic, large abstracts influenced by music by Joel Smith, Colchester, Illinois, and assemblage wood sculpture by Constance Demuth Berg, Good Hope, Illinois.
Kaldi’s Coffeehouse and Tearoom, 124 E. Simmons Street, is exhibiting paintings by Jane Hames, October 1st thru November 30th. An artist’s reception will be Friday, October 12th, 2–6pm.