Abend Gallery, September 4-26
This story was featured in the September 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Many people treasure childhood memories of afternoons spent lying beneath the trees, gazing upward through the canopy of leaves with patches of blue revealed in each gentle breeze. Colorado oil painter Deb Komitor captures this cherished perspective and others in her landscape series devoted to trees—25 pieces of which are on view this month at Abend Gallery. Komitor’s solo show opens with an artist’s reception on Friday, September 4, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Usually drawn to animals and birds—especially ravens—and southwestern landscapes, Komitor’s own memories of the deep woods of her native Ohio inspired her to begin exploring trees in her paintings. About six months later, one of her collectors encouraged her to visit the ancient sequoias of Northern California, and she did so a short time later. “My husband and I came around a corner, and I had to yell at him to stop the car. I started walking down the road, and my jaw dropped. The trees surround you and put you in a big hug in their arms,” she says. Komitor has been working on this series for two years, but after visiting the redwood forests, they have become the exclusive focus of her explorations and are the subjects of her solo show.
“Deb has been showing with us for several years now, so in that sense, it really was time to devote a larger show to her work. We’re excited about her current output,” says Connor Serr, co-curator of Abend. “Her latest body of work represents a refinement of the style and subject matter that she has been pursuing. In particular, there is a heightened sense of depth to her current work. Her compositions are both dramatic and vertiginous in scope and perspective.” Serr says two elements set Komitor apart in the field: her sense of perspective, which can send the viewer’s gaze up the trunk toward the heavens or cascading across a light-dappled forest floor, and her bold, loose manner of applying paint.
Komitor says her work has become increasingly loose as the series has evolved. And while she continues to work on wooden panels, as she’s done in the past, she’s changed from red to black gesso for underpaintings. The effect gives the paintings a more somber look. “It’s helped me evolve my sense of how to see and use color. I brought the value of color up, paying more attention to the lightness and darkness of tones,” she says.
“This is the biggest one-person show I’ve had. This is my opportunity to surround people with the forest,” she says of the expansive display planned for Abend’s galleries. Komitor has friends and family members with physical disabilities, some of whom aren’t able to visit the forest in person. In re-creating the experience for them, she strives to express “the expansion of hope, freedom, and lightness in the forest.”
Ultimately, Komitor enjoys seeing viewers’ reactions to her work. “Their jaws drop just like mine did in real life. I can see them experiencing the spiritual quality of the trees.” —Ashley M. Biggers
Featured in the September 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art September 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
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