Heritage Museums art exhibit looks at landscapes in a whole new light
Structure and Landscape
The artists whose work appears in this section consider structure in terms of exploration of line and space. Paul Resika challenges viewers with “Blue Wave” (2008-09). One can tell this is a Cape Cod lighthouse scene, but it’s pared down to simple shapes—sharp, brightly colored triangles, rectangles and circles. Vertical lines dominate in Sarah McKenzie’s “Scrim” (2011), a close-up of skyscrapers seen through a hotel window. “I’ve always been intrigued by where the landscape meets culture,” says McKenzie, who lives in Boulder, Colorado. “I’m interested in how the built landscape reveals the larger dynamic of our culture.” David Kapp’s “Square Crowd” (2010) shows a bird’s-eye view of New Yorkers crossing a busy intersection. In this painting, done with loose brush strokes that create a sense of motion, the people are the landscape. “I’m concerned with the urban landscape. I like it because it’s confrontational,” says Kapp, who lives in New York City.
Painters often use a natural object in their works for form and structure, such as a tree or trees, according to Della Monica. Sylvia Plimack Mangold’s “Summer Maple, 2008” (2008) is a realistic-looking close-up of a maple treetop. In contrast, Wolf Kahn’s “Pond and Pine Trees #2” (1974) shows a grove of trees, highlighted with splashes of purples and magenta. In her book, Della Monica writes that Kahn often uses “nonsensical” colors in his landscapes, and the colors become the subject of the work. Sam Cady’s “Cypress, Pacific Coast” (1996) is more photo-realistic, showing intricate details of the tree against a nonexistent sky—Cady intentionally left the background white so that the focus is on the cypress.
The Act of Painting
In the introduction to this section, Della Monica notes that the landscape is almost secondary to process and style. Yvonne Jacquette’s “Late Sun Above Madison Square Park II” (2012) features a dark, quiet cityscape with square grid patterns for the windows of the skyscrapers, creating a deliberate flat look. Rackstraw Downes’s “New Plantings in Millennium Park After Labor Day Rains of 2002” (2002) puts the focus on the newly planted trees in the park, rather than the park itself or the skyscrapers in the distance.
The book—and Heritage’s exhibit of the work—has encouraged the featured artists, themselves, to speculate upon what constitutes landscape painting today. “With Painted Landscapes, Lauren has shown the breadth of landscape painting,” Jim Holland says. “She has opened people’s eyes to what landscape painting can be.” David Kapp echoes the sentiment. “What is landscape painting today?” Kapp asks. “It is this curatorial exhibit.”
Heritage Museums & Gardens is located at 67 Grove Street, Sandwich. For more information, call 508-888-3300, or visit heritagemuseumsandgardens.org.
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