Knowlton Gallery, September 30-November 29
This story was featured in the September 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
The land, and what it produces, often recede into the background as we stride through life. This harvest season, Knowlton Gallery invites viewers to consider Northern California’s rich farming landscape, to reflect on its beauty and bounty and how it fortifies our culture. Farmland, an exhibition of new paintings by Kathleen Dunphy and Randall Sexton, proffers a slice-of-life look at the farms, machinery, laborers, and animals that cultivate and populate the region.
Farmland opens on September 30 and includes approximately 30 oil paintings in varying sizes depicting scenes in and around the Central Valley. Dunphy brings animals to the forefront in placid color and light, inspired by her lifelong love of creatures great and small. Sexton employs an expressive, fluid approach to capture poignant moments within a vast landscape. A reception for the artists takes place on Friday, October 3, from 5 to 8 p.m. The gallery has also planned a Farm-to-Fork dinner for September 29, which gives collectors an early opportunity to procure the highly anticipated new work.
Gallery owner Robin Knowlton was inspired to curate Farmland after seeing Sexton’s painting FROM EARTH TO BOX, in which farmers work a tract of delta land against a majestic mountainous backdrop. Showing Dunphy’s work alongside Sexton’s proved a “natural pairing,” allowing Knowlton to realize her vision of extoling the area’s tangible and visual fecundity. She says: “With these two artists, I know that regardless of the show’s theme, it’s going to be great. They are both working on familiar terrain with Farmland. Most of the paintings for this show were done over the course of the summer and close to their homes, where vineyards, orchards, dairies, and row crops are abundant.”
Dunphy’s soulful, intimate paintings of horses, cows, goats, and roosters recall the abundance of life all around, as well as the innate connection between people and animals, who need each other to survive and thrive. With steady, purposeful brush strokes and delicately concentrated light, Dunphy precisely articulates each animal’s form and reveals its dignified demeanor. She has gained a deeper appreciation of animals through the process of painting them and, consequently, begins each piece in the field, observing behavior and sketching anatomy. In this way, the painter feels closer to her subjects, both physically and spiritually.
With loose, painterly strokes full of pigment and heft, Sexton depicts personal glimpses of the delta farmland and those who cultivate it. His style fuses a bit of abstraction with traditional plein-air work, as site-inspired compositions reveal themselves organically throughout the creative process. Sexton maintains an ongoing interest in presenting the true flavor of the region as well as the personalities of the people he paints. To that end, he befriends many of the workers who populate his compositions. Such sincerity and empathy emerge in the artist’s impressionistic renderings.
Farmland remains on view through November 29. Videos chronicling each artist’s process are available on the gallery’s YouTube channel beginning September 15. —Elizabeth L. Delaney
Featured in the September 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art September 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
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