I have five new abstracts in the Member Show Part 1 at the State of the Art Gallery Ithaca. The
show runs from January 3-28, 2018, with a gallery night reception on Friday, January 12.
The five paintings were chosen from a series of abstracts on which I have been working during the fall of this year. They represent a detour from the landscape paintings that I’ve been doing for an upcoming show in April among others, and represent a complete departure of materials, tools and technique. Previously I’d been doing the landscapes for quite a while, Spring and early summer found me outside with my easel in various gorges and fields, as well as in
studio with photos of cloud-scapes. Doing representational landscape implies a commitment to reality, yet the physicality of my materials is
an important aspect of my art. My preferred palette knife technique results in a highly-textured surface, where seemingly random shapes coalesce into realism at a distance. Being “loose” and real at the same time is a balancing act, depending on a relaxed state of unselfconsciousness. Knowing how something is “supposed to look” and being faithful to its nature after a while began to result in an anxious self-consciousness that was constraining my spontaneous free flow of paint. At times like those, I turn to abstraction as a way to play with color without expectation of outcome. I start with a color premise, and explore it. The painting becomes a puzzle to solve. There is an infinite number of choices, decisions to make, and no set answers. It is play that only becomes serious when the painting is nearing
resolution. For this series, I gravitated to brush instead of palette knife, and switched from oils to acrylics. My color premise was to create compositions using color families to create subtlety rather than complementary colors to create high impact drama. The first few were painted with various yellows and orange, and the next were studies with combinations of blue, using yellow and magenta to gently modify them. I indulged in using colors not found in the landscape. The openness of abstraction and the reality of landscape work nicely together as foils for each other. I began working back and forth during this project, with oils at one end of the studio and acrylics at the other end.
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My submission to State of the Art Gallery for August 2017 are two abstract paintings, Despot and Dames, and Landscape 11/9.
Despot and Dames started with the idea of juxtaposing a large heavy and menacing shape with several smaller, ephemeral, semi transparent slender shapes. It was a struggle to resolve the painting, because at various points it looked very architectural in an industrial sense, and I did not mean for it to represent pipes, bridges or buildings. It stayed in that state for about 6 months, waiting for the answer. Just when I was almost convinced that the yellow horizontal lines needed to be extended and connected, even though I was firmly convinced that would anchor it in architecture irrevocably, I subjected it to one more period of intense scrutiny. I rotated it left, upside down, etc… and to my surprise I realized that in fact I needed to interrupt the yellow horizontals and instead connect the blue verticals. The painting snapped into accord with my intent. What a great feeling. You may well ask what motivated me to want to paint such an image. I am afraid I have to decline to tell you, I would rather ask what it might mean to you. One day I was in the gallery and a visitor expressed her impatience and irritation with the titles of abstract paintings. She said, the titles that indicate the artists intent or emotion strip her of the opportunity to freely engage with the painting. It was more important to her that she be free to react to the painting and enjoy her own thoughts and feelings. With that in mind, I would consider this painting a success if it sparks ideas for you or stirs some kind of emotional response as you look at it.
Every morning, after I wake up, I look out my window and check out the world. Situated on an east facing hilltop, my bedroom looks out on a large expanse of lawn and gardens bordered by bushes that flower in their various seasons, ending in a wooded area. Beyond that is Cass Park and the Inlet. The view continues in the distance with East Hill and Cornell, clouds and sunrise. Every so often I am struck by some quirk of season, weather, or circumstance that results in a morning of sharpened perception and heightened emotion which sparks a retrospective painting. November 9, 2017 presented such an image, and after breakfast I went down into my studio and painted Landscape 11/9 from memory. It is not intended to be a realistic painting, but the shapes and colors were inspired by the morning light hitting the autumn scenery. I think of it as falling somewhere within the Fauvist tradition of simplified shapes, fantastic colors, flattened perspective.
Permanent link to this article: http://ozolins.com/whats-august-2017/
I had a surprise opportunity to hang paintings in a local business on the Commons. Breathe is a new clothing store in Center Ithaca that has an interesting inventory of fashionable clothing which takes into account comfortable wearability in addition to beautiful design. With soaring walls and a suspended walkway bridging the two sides, it made the
perfect setting to show some of my larger landscapes. I put together a mini-retrospective of favorites from the last 18 years comprised of local scenes and travel in Oregon, Maine, and Ireland. it is not common to find a space large enough to show these paintings with out crowding, and open enough to see them from a distance. These eight paintings will be on display from April 26 to May 30, with a celebration of Fashion Night and First Friday coinciding on May 5 from 5:30 to 7:30. I’ll be there until 7pm, and then I’ll go over to the State of the Art Gallery to catch the last hour of the opening reception for Margy Nelson and Connie Zehr.
At the State of the Art Gallery, I will show a new small landscape in the Salon. It is a flashback to October last year. Autumn 2016 was a long slow end of summer that seemed to last forever. This is a12 X 16 that I did early in the morning on a bright, clear day in Treman Marina near the bathhouse. I was impressed by how the intense sunlight and deep shade under the maple trees made a strong composition. After the initial burst of creative inspiration, it took much reflection and rumination over a period of time to solve the problem of how to make the various greens create the sense of depth and volume.
This is the last week to see a reprise of Color Explorations – Abstract Paintings at Transformations – a lovely Hair and Body Salon located at 222 Elmira Road, in that small mall.
Also last few days at SOAG for a small landscape from Cornell Arboretum that will be on the wall until Sunday, April 30.
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What’s up in January 2017: Cascadilla Gorge Paintings at SOAG
For the month of January, I have 7 new paintings at the State of the Art Gallery in an exhibit called Then and Now. It is in conjunction with the celebration of Tompkins County’s bicentennial taking place this year. This is a group show in two parts – half of the SOAG members are showing now in January, and the other half will show in February. The show runs January 4- 29, with an opening reception January 6, 5-8 pm.
The Cascadilla Gorge trail is a place of incomparable beauty. With a 400 foot rise from Linn Street to Campus, it is also a good cardio workout. Right in the heart of the city, it is easily accessible and forms a daily route between downtown Ithaca and Cornell University for many people. The trail had been closed for six years for repairs and it was a joy to be able to walk there again when it reopened this past spring. I went often, and took hundreds, if not thousands of photos. The Gorge remained endlessly fascinating because the hour of day, the weather, or the changing season each time created a new vista. It is not an easy place to do outdoor landscape painting because, narrow as it is, there is no convenient place to set up an easel without inconveniencing the many people who pass along at all hours. However, this was a drought year and soon I realized with the drop in water flow not only was the beauty of the rock more fully exposed, but there were dry places to step down into the creek bed with plenty of room to set up and paint. Beginning on Sept 12, I proceeded with this series of gorge paintings. The drought similarly exposed some other inaccessible places, and, in Taughannock Creek and Sawmills Creek, I happily painted in the middle of what would have been a rushing stream.
I painted in the morning, from when the light first peeked over the cliff to around noon when the sun was fully overhead and flooded the creek with blinding light. I chatted with tourists from all over the world who wandered by. I observed students in college level ecology classes taking water samples and measuring water flow, and preschool youngsters collecting frogs and water insects. I developed a passing acquaintance with the stone masons who started their work when I came, and were resting their backs and eating lunch when I was leaving eager to see my canvases each day. I was angry and disgusted one Sunday when plastic drink cups rained down and glass beer bottles shattered on the rocks. I had moments of trepidation when the overly dried out walls let go little rock slides, and I had to think very carefully about what was above me so I could paint safely. Unfortunately, my painting season was cut short in early October when Cornell closed the trail for repairs, as overly dried walls were too unstable when the rains came again. All of these paintings were created on site with oil paint on canvas using palette knife. In some of them you can even see bits of windblown organic matter, or small insects. Most of them needed some degree of correction in the studio, such as small adjustments for perspective or light.
Robert H. Treman donated Cascadilla Gorge to Cornell University in 1909 to support public use, education, and enjoyment. The Cascadilla Gorge Trail system was initially constructed during the Civilian Conservation Corps era. A plan for developing the trail was envisioned in 1915 by Charles N. Lowrie, a landscape architect. He saw great potential for unique scenery with unsurpassed beauty that was at that time unknown to most people because of its inaccessibility among the extremely steep and rugged slopes. Most people could only get a glimpse of the ravine from various bridges that crossed it. His estimate for cost of construction was $21,438. Currently, Cornell Botanical Gardens manages it and is committed to protecting the natural area, providing ongoing educational use, and supporting safe public enjoyment of the gorge. Through the years, the trail suffered erosion and many parts fell into disrepair. Repairs were made in 2009, and in 2011 tropical storm Lee sent devastating torrents and massive boulders crashing down the gorge necessitating extensive rebuilding that cost almost $3 million from Cornell University, Cornell Botanical Gardens, and FEMA.
Cascadilla Creek carves through bedrock – shales, siltstone and sandstone – exposing sedimentary rocks that were deposited 400 million years ago. There are ripple marks on the rock surface indicating it once was the muddy shore of a shallow, tropical sea that covered much of New York State. The Appalachian Mountains are the remnants of a mountain chain the size of the Himalayas which was located to the east of this inland sea. Sediments of sand, gravel and mud flowed down the mountain streams, accumulated over millions of years, and formed the sedimentary rocks that we walk on and are surrounded by on the trail. The actions of the massive two mile thick glaciers gouged a series of rivers, from north to south. As the glacier began melting away over 12,000 years ago, the rivers became lakes in deep valleys. Streams that flowed into these lakes plunged as waterfalls over their steep sides and carved the gorges by cutting into the bedrock, action that continues even today.
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There will be several paintings in various venues in Ithaca for the month of November.
First I will mention my Salon entry for this month at the Sate of the Art Gallery. It is a small landscape from my Sarasota Sunrise series: Sunrise #2 (two red bushes), 12×12″ acrylic on acrylic paper mounted on foam core and framed. I started this on a rainy morning this past January. As usual, I rose at sunrise, and it was a misty morning, with a slowly rising fog obscuring much of the near distance. It was a soft, dripping morning. I took a lot of photos, and did some pencil sketches, and then made a hasty retreat into the house when it started raining in earnest. After breakfast, I settled down and painted from memory and sketches. It needed some reflection and revision sessions over the course of the next few months, and voila, here it is, seeing the gallery lights for the first time. This Salon showing is in conjunction with Shirley Hogg’s solo exhibit Waiting for the Ark, large scale, life sized watercolors of endangered animals. The show runs November 2-27, with a reception for the artists November 4, 5:00-8:00 pm. The State of the Art is located at 120 W. Martin Luther King/ W. State Street in Ithaca.
Next, a small landscape in oil, 12×16, Early Summer beyond the Marina, will be hanging in the CSMA gallery space as part of their Fine Arts
Auction Fundraiser. Visual art will be exhibited in the gallery throughout November, celebrated with an opening reception on First Friday Gallery Night, November 4, from 5-8 PM. During the 18-day bidding period, works will also be posted on the auction website with a description, photograph, artist bio, and a link to the artist’s website. Silent bidding takes place entirely online. The Community School of Music and Art is located at 330 E State Street.
Last, but not least, If you are visiting the physical therapy offices ofMcCune and Murphy in Trumansburg, you will see two 18×24″ landscape paintings. The first is a group of white ibis, adults and juveniles, in their natural habitat. It is done in acrylic, on stretched canvas, with brush. The second is Mad River, in Vermont, a landscape in oil done with palette knife. It will be there for an undetermined amount of time.
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