Snow Leopard  by Rosetta.
By Susan Hallsten McGarry
Squint at one of Rosetta’s sculptures and you’ll realize what makes her cats so seductive: the play of light across their surfaces. This Loveland, CO, artist modulates the rises and recesses of her bronzes ever so slightly to create sparkling highlights along the edges and dark shadows that pool in the hollows. These lyric patterns of light and dark suggest musculature and anatomical structure beneath the surface, while simultaneously making the viewer feel the lithe forms of her feline subjects.
Dave McGary also makes us sense the heroism he finds in his Native American subjects, but he uses entirely different means. Rather than smooth, sleek surfaces, McGary delineates with exacting precision the myriad details of fabric, beadwork, fur, hair, feathers and more—literally a cacophony of contrasting textures and colors. If Rosetta’s work reminds one of rhythmic, lapping waves, McGary’s bronzes are crashing surf. In both cases, the lasting impression is made by the way light dances across the surfaces.
The Sea at Pacifica  by Russell Chatham.
Light, both physical and psychological, also plays a significant role in the works of this month’s painters. Sandra Bierman rarely uses a natural light source in her paintings. Instead, this Boulder, CO, painter depicts imagined points of light that radiate warmth and vitality. Exaggerated plants, cats, bosoms or enfolded arms are warmed by a glow that expresses her innermost joy at being loved. Such images become symbols, acknowledges Bierman, of the nurturing forces that create and sustain life.
Light radiating out of darkness is also seen in Rita Orr’s serigraphs. In night scenes cooled by blues and blacks, a lighted window is a sign of humanity, she says. The Missouri landscapes painted by her husband Joseph Orr approach light from the opposite direction: Bathed in atmospheric sunlight, his rolling vistas are patterned by the inviting shadows of trees and foliage. These cool retreats entice the viewer into half-hidden places that long for discovery.
For the 12 tonalists featured in “Luminescent Landscapes,” light is a dominant element. Like Bierman, their light sources are as much imagined as real, appearing to emanate through the layers of paint. Quietly ordering the chaotic infinity of nature, these veils of light freeze space and time while reverberating with the enigmas of the universe. You can’t help but take an inward journey as you view them, so relax and feel the force.
Featured in April 1997