Past Exhibition 2013: Tree Spirits
Tree Spirits, taking its cue from the metaphorical “Tree of Life,” positions a common landscape element in the realm of mythology and nature. Inspired by trees in their most elemental form, this exhibition presents trees from multiple perspectives, allowing us to experience them from the inside and out.
Working with a variety of wood, often obtained from local trees that have to be cut down, Phil Brown seeks to reveal the hidden beauty of his material. He scoops mystical vortexes and polishes his forms, some balanced on narrow necks or swollen with potential. To enhance the wood's colors, patterns, and textures, Brown frequently uses spalting, a technique that supports the growth of fungi to create sinuous lines and swirling shapes.
In contrast to this empirical presentation on the nature of trees, Barbara Kerne’s emotive colorful woodcuts with pulp painting suggest Tibetan mountain fantasies. Showing tree roots, trunks, and branches, her trees take on an anthropomorphic quality in the shallow space of imaginary scenes. Harriet Lesser puts us right up against the lush foliage of tropical trees, painted from a Havana hotel balcony. The patterned architectural elements circumscribe unruly nature, providing a safe place to experience the density within arm’s reach. The textured surfaces heighten the tactile quality of the image.
Robert O’Brien zooms out, painting impressionistic landscapes where trees provide contrast with the man-made incursions of barns and railroad tracks. Yolanda Frederikse incorporates trees in her landscapes of light and shadow. Her watercolors and prints record nature’s brilliance, but also its destructive power. Ellen Winkler takes us full circle, showing us the idiosyncrasies of individual trees and slowing us down to observe the intricacies of seed pods, the source of new life.