The exhibition “Atmospherics” coincides with the beginning of spring, when, after the long grey days of winter, color begins to burst forth in Nature’s annual spectacle of new life, hope and resurrection. All sixteen of the regional artists whose work is included in “Atmospherics” look at and interpret the glories of Nature in her/his own way; the show includes paintings, gouaches, photographs, and drawings. (In this, the year of the woman in the arts, 9 of the l6 artists represented in this exhibition are women artists.)
The Hudson River School of American painters, and the offshoot of same known as The Luminists, are the inspiration for this show. Nearly all of them were awed by the natural beauty of Upstate New York; many were particularly inspired by autumn, with its glorious colors, and most of the artists in this exhibition continue this tradition; neither the built environment nor the human form appears in the work in this show. The European idea of The Sublime usually included images of Ancient ruins, longing for the perceived glories of Greece and Rome, where the American ideal of The Sublime limits to Nature herself, so this exhibition follows that American tradition of The Sublime. So many artists in this show–Valerie Shesko; Kay Hurley; Stacie Seuberling; Bukang Kim; Jens Rosenkrantz; Lisa Molyneux; Paula Risch Head–capture those essences of Nature, radically distilling the amount of visual information in their work and often focusing on skies, mists, fogs, swamps, streams, rivers, mountains, and all are great colorists. Where Head paints a similar scene, so what changes are the times of day, incremental changes in foliage and flowers, and light itself, Shesko tends more to the grandeur of Nature, in this show often painting glaciers and the great skies of Norway. Molyneux’s is more representational, and her work is perhaps closest to the Sublime, along with Shesko’s and Hurley’s, while Kevin Muente, also a great colorist, is more of a realist, while still radically limiting those grand natural scenes he paints.
Another relative realist in this show is Leslie Shiels, whose landscapes manage to appear realistic while using expressionist brushwork, much like Van Gogh’s, no mean feat, that. Keith Klein, like Kim Flora, runs the gamut from the mostly realistic to the entirely abstract, although his color pushes into the expressionist as well as the impressionist. Klein’s flowers often seem like giant bubbles in which one wants to frolic on a spring or summer day; his pinks, purples and whites are sensational. Adam Hayward uses great master painters as his guides in his incredibly detailed paintings of a tree, or a flowering branch, though his work tends towards the minimalist in its way, as well. Both Bukang Kim and Valerie Shesko are Abstract Expressionists, and both use Asian calligraphy as a way of painting essences more than likenesses.
Ellina Chetverikova is also something of an abstract expressionist; her gestural paintings of trees use that same combination of American abstraction and Chinese painting that we see in Shesko and Kim; her sense of nature is designed, rather than composed, in miniature gouaches of maximum impact; she’s another of the show’s great colorists.
And Kim Flora’s paintings run the range from abstraction to nearly realistic, nearly capturing the essence of this show in her body of work, while Kevin Kelly’s are the most minimalist/reductivist, as he moves his neo-Pop style into pure landscapes, or the Zen of landscape.
Images of skies and trees (and lots of tree trunks) dominate this show, which runs from the relatively abstract to the relatively representational, so that the viewers can see the great variety of styles and techniques different artists use to mostly the same purpose and end. “Beauty” is a very subjective word, but most of our ideas about beauty probably originate in Nature (or the human form), and, in the difficult times in which we are all currently living, while Nature bursts into glory outside, our artists have recreated and interpreted her in artwork. Nature is ephemeral and transient, but artwork is permanent We happily include the photography of Kent Krugh, whose newest studies of trees and tree trunks are stunning, along with Jens Rosenkrantz’s cloud studies, and Brad Austin Smith’s black-and-white and/or sepia toned images, as photography may best reflect art’s transiency and permanence concurrently.
“Atmospherics” is a tribute to Beauty, to creativity, to the cycles of Nature, and to life itself, and these sixteen artists may well be on their own spiritual journey, wherein the artwork they create is the external manifestation of the inner journey.
Daniel Brown, Curator