SCAPE is a group exhibition of five accomplished local artists, each with a unique way of depicting a common subject matter: landscapes. Through this lens, the artists' unique voices create a dialogue between realistic depiction and emotional abstraction. SCAPE opens at Baldwin Wallace University's Fawick Gallery, inside the Kleist Center for Art and Drama, with a free reception on Friday, Jan. 23, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Curator Eileen Dorsey's vision for SCAPE began with an interest in how other artists perceive similar subjects. SCAPE features the work of Dorsey, Hilary Gent, Dott Schneider, Jack St. John and Dawn Tekler.
"As an artist, I always find it interesting to see how other artists tackle their subject matter, especially when dealing with a similar subject," Dorsey says. "So I put together a group show that encapsulates the theme of a landscape, yet each work is executed differently from one another."
Dorsey's studio, on the first floor of 78th Street Studios, is consistently filled with new, vibrant landscape paintings at each monthly Third Friday open house.
"Landscapes are my vehicle for expressing texture and color, punctuated with aggressive and expressive painting techniques," Dorsey says. "With a palette that changes for each painting, I make a point to challenge myself with color combinations. Choosing what color to begin with is one of the more important decisions in my process. I do not rely on truly realistic colors to create a painting. The first color down, the sky or the mid-tone of the background, tends to decide the palette of the piece. The rest of the work is determined by subconscious decisions."
Hilary Gent's HEDGE Gallery is on the second floor of 78th Street Studios. Dorsey and Gent have exhibited together at HEDGE (January 2014) and at Tri-C's Gallery West (November 2013). Gent's current work is inspired by the ways in which natural disasters change the land in their aftermath. The abstraction in her composition and brushwork creates scenes that seem more like dreams or memories than photographs or traditional, academic landscape paintings.
"I'm excited to show with such a broad range of artists focused on portraying the contemporary landscape," Gent says. "Although each artist in this show has a particular style and medium they typically work in, our color palettes and manipulation of materials tell a similar story: We are attempting to represent the subject matter (landscape) with a modernist approach. The paint, collage, wax and other mixed mediums that make up the works in this group exhibit are just as important as the imagery of the landscape itself."
Tekler also maintains a studio at 78th Street Studios, on the first floor, just doors down from Dorsey's space. Tekler graduated from Cleveland Institute of Art with a degree in photography, but found her final products lacking the evocative, emotional qualities she was trying to convey. Her current process involves encaustic wax, photography, painting and collage. The final products have a dreamlike quality.
"I am drawn to the idea of encasing the subject, so it can be studied at a later date," says Tekler. "This is a theme that is carried over from my voyeuristic approach to my photography. Through the layering of wax, adding color and texture, I aim to create an environment which allows the viewer to bring to it their own story and hopefully enjoyment of the journey and also with anticipation invite the viewer back over and over again to find different elements not noticed in the original viewing."
Dott Schneider's work for SCAPE is inspired by topography and the color field paintings of abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. Schneider's work may be the most abstract, but her paintings have a dynamic presence that draws viewers in for closer examination.
"I've been thinking a lot about Mark Rothko lately," explains Schneider. "On a trip to London I was blown away by the Rothko room at the Tate. I felt as if I was inside paintings themselves. When I attended Pompeii at the Cleveland Museum of Art, sitting with his work again, I had the same feeling, and that's what Rothko's work does. It forces you to stop, contemplate, stare, dissect, and get lost. I am content to spend hours with his work. Subsequently, I poured all this data into my work for SCAPE."
In his work, Jack St. John seeks to convey emotions and non-visual sensory elements as much as imagery. Through the balance of representation and abstraction, St. John attempts to capture the many different sensory elements of his experience in his environments. His expressive, gestural quality is often reminiscent of de Kooning's figurative abstractions.
"The paintings sort of represent a wandering experience," says St. John. "The visual and tactile sensation of a place is a starting point; called up is an inchoate ferment of marks and colors that strays from representation. The excitement is to pull visual, tactile elements out of an interesting setting or environment and to use them to compose a visual experience that alludes to that place on some level but still functions as a formal, independent artwork. I start with elements that derive from landscape and work with them to make something that holds together as a composition and also expresses a sense of the landscape I was originally interested in."
Gallery hours are Mondays through Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m. or by appointment.