by Mike Rutledge

COVINGTON – Curator Daniel Brown assembled the exhibition called The Definitive Contemporary Landscape to robustly prove a point.

“Somebody said to me not too long ago that he found landscapes boring,” Brown said. The art expert offered Brown this reason for his opinion: “Well, they’ve been doing them for 300 years.”

Brown immediately resolved to show how enthralling landscapes still can be, with so many approaches and varying styles. The exhibit will appear in the city of Covington’s Artisans Enterprise Center through April 25.

“I wanted to prove that there’s a huge range of art that can be called landscapes, from the traditionally realist to naturalist, to the poetic to expressionist, and then into the calligraphic,” he said.

He also wanted to show the diversity and depth of talent within just 20 miles of Fountain Square. Nearly every artist lives within that circle, with ages ranging from 23 to about 80. The range of their styles is remarkable.

“By showing these 29 artists in one show, and really all of them are regional, you can see the range, and it would be hard to call these boring,” said Brown, who also is editor of AEQAI and president of the nonprofit AEQAI Inc.

“This is a particularly good time of year, as spring begins to spring, to see 29 different artists’ interpretations of what we’re beginning to see outside our windows,” Brown said.

The approximately 130 artworks have even more variety than our spring weather. Works depict snow falling, wildflowers blowing, fields freezing beneath snow, afternoons enveloped by warm haze, storms raging, the moon glowing, the Ohio River flowing beneath billowing clouds, the sun filtering through misty woods, even Bellevue homes in a peaceful snow-covered calm.

Most of the works are paintings, with some photos and some prints, collage and mixed media. Images run from swamps and raging streams to a tropical beach and quiet backyards.

Some of the collection’s liveliest works feature what Brown calls ‘Calligraphic Expressionism,’ – a combination of American Abstract Expressionism and Asian calligraphic techniques.

Brown never told her this, but Brown informally dedicated the show to Bukang Kim, a Korean-American artist who lives in Hyde Park and recently retired as a painter. Brown has worked with her about 30 years.

“If I could pick one artist with whom I’ve worked for decades that I would put at the pinnacle of creative abilities in town it would certainly be Bukang.” he said. “She’s first among many, but she’s gloriously talented and it’s validating to see people still responding to her work.”

Bukang Kim, White Field

“She’s drawn to darker palates – broody, moody landscapes, particularly the dark, deep blues,” Brown said. Yet they are full of energy: “When you look at her work you can feel this sweep of the whole arm going across the paper or canvas.

“Most of her landscapes are based on her backyard. It’s about an acre in Hyde Park,” Brown said. “She’s drawn particularly to autumn and winter.”

“The range of her talent is astonishing – truly astonishing,” Brown said.

Among the highlights are the works of Hawaiian-born Japanese-American Frank Satogata, who like Kim paints with seeming spontaneity, and uses calligraphy to structure his works.

“He’s trying to capture that immediacy that Japanese paintings try to do,” Brown said. “Much of the paintings are on the surface, they’re not looking for depth.”

His paintings have much exuberance: “You feel like you can watch a flower bursting into bloom right before your eyes.”

Also from Satogata’s work, one takes “a sense of life being good,” Brown said.

Frank Satogata, Looking Skyward

“Frank’s work falls right on the line between abstraction and realism,“ he said. “In this show he’s going more abstract.”

Brown considers Mrs. Kim, Valerie Shesko and Kay Hurley – all in the exhibit – “three of America’s greatest colorists.”

Valerie Shesko, Ridge at Dusk

Other works that particularly sparkle are by Lisa Molyneux, Hurley, Stacie Seuberling, Shesko, Jens G. Rosenkrantz Jr., Paula Risch Head, Bonita Goldberg, Kevin Muente, John Kluesener, Robert A. Flischel, Jim “Dauber” Farr, Rick Bennett, Tim Kennedy, Tim Tepe, Cole Carothers and Trish Weeks.

Brian Burt, The White Barn

Other pieces were created by Brian Burt, Lynn Carden, Kim Flora, Kevin T. Kelly, Kent Krugh, Susan Mahan, Eve Mansdorf, Matthew Metzger, Neil Riley and Marla Sweitzer.

Lisa Molyneux, Misty Light Show

The Artisans Enterprise Center is at 27 W. 7th St. (859-292-2322). The exhibit opened March 21 to a crowd of “about 600, which is fantastic,” said Cate Yellig of the city-operated center. The exhibit will close April 25. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rick Bennett, Dance of the Grasses II, 24X24 inches, 2014

Covington has created one of Kentucky’s five arts and cultural districts in Kentucky as a way to spark economic development, embrace the arts and artists, and also improve quality of life in the city.

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