”Animal Life/Still Life” paintings by Paulette Thenhaus and “Assemblages” by Janice Owens are on exhibit at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth, IL until March 18.  This is a lively exhibit and a visit there is a great way to end the winter doldrums.

Ms. Thenhaus’ work never fails to excite the eye and the imagination. She has two main themes in this exhibit.  The still life paintings are very colorful with a bold sense of pattern and a rich painterly quality.   Some have a dream like presence while others are lively free flowing landscapes. We discover the object in a Matisse-like atmosphere of color.  In “Animal Life” Ms. Thenhaus reveals the rabbit, the squirrel, and the fox in silhouette.  The eyes of the animal figures are aglow, as if reflecting the headlights of a passing automobile. We intrude on their lives and they cast back a piercing gaze.  We catch them on the run and they reflect a red or opalescent eye.   Through these dynamic and colorful paintings, Paulette has shared her sense of joy and excitement in the world around us.

“Assemblages” aptly describes the work of Janice Owen.  These boxed three-dimensional works; reminiscent of Joseph’s Cornell’s collages present an animated contrast between nature and culture. At the surface we see the artifacts of nature, such as bone, shell and twig, supplemented by glass tendrils and beads.  In the background, we find the artifacts of Asian and African culture, such as handmade paper, ribbon, and wood block prints. The whole creates tension between what we make and what we find in nature. The twin contributions of the natural and the artificial are juxtaposed with intrigue and beauty.

 

Reviewed by Barbara Factor