Abend Gallery, April 24-May 22
This story was featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
The artists of Abend Gallery’s latest group show may not have documented the Earth’s roundness as Magellan did, but they are documenting and interpreting the landscape through their distinctive perspectives. “These landscapes are their ways of investigating the land around them and are their maps of what [the land] means to them,” says Connor Serr, co-curator of Abend Gallery and this exhibition.
The paintings will fill the entirety of Abend’s 6,500-square-foot gallery space, presenting a sweeping survey of contemporary landscapes. The show opens with an artists’ reception, which many of the 30 exhibiting gallery-represented and invited guest artists attend, on Friday, April 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. Participating artists include Zhaoming Wu, Marc Hanson, John Pototschnik, David Shingler, and Lorenzo Chavez.
Wu, a represented artist, shows his first new works with the gallery in quite a while. “He’s known for his figural work, but his landscape work is on par if not better than his figural work,” says Serr. Jacob Dhein, another represented artist, will also show figurative landscapes. Signature works by guest artists—such as Michelle Condrat, who composes Southwest scenes with geometric squares and pixilation forming the meadows and buttes—help complete the wide analysis.
Although most artists will contribute one to three works each, featured artist Jane Hunt will have a larger presentation, with five to six works. Fairly new to Abend Gallery, Hunt’s “works are very atmospheric, very contemplative. They invite the viewer to look slowly and closely. Usually, they are fairly minimal landscapes,” says Serr. The English-born artist and former illustrator felt her paintings were too tight, so she has moved increasingly into the liminal space between abstraction and realism. New works, such as FROZEN CREEK, are emblematic of her new directions both in technique and tone, as she introduces more texture and captures an ethereal feeling. “Working with texture was a way to stay loose. It adds an interest that I haven’t had in my work in the past,” the Colorado-based painter observes. “I’m always searching for a sense of home in my landscapes. I felt completely at home when I did the plein-air study for FROZEN CREEK. When I came back to my studio, I wanted to keep that feeling. It’s rare that I feel that dream sense in the finished piece, but I do in that one.”
Dave Santillanes is also exhibiting several new paintings—created in the last three months from plein-air studies—that balance the spiritual and technical. “This allows me to describe the scene in my own words in the studio painting. As far as composition, I continue to push for simplicity while my use of color becomes more complex,” the Colorado-based painter says. DOWN FROM THUNDER PASS (STUDY) captures a swollen creek during spring runoff. “I love the sound of mountain creeks and the serenity of painting near one. As chaotic as the creek may seem in its swollen state, I’ve used clear evening light and a simple design to push the calm over chaos.” Following in the footsteps of “cartographers” such as Hunt and Santillanes may be impossible, but their work, along with others in the show, is certainly transitive. —Ashley M. Biggers
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