Artists in Schumacher show paint inner landscapes

Messenger photo by John Matuszak
Robert Robbins combines levels of impressionism and abstraction in his painting "Autumn Marsh," one of the works on exhibit in Schumacher Gallery’s "East of Eden: Contemporary Ohio Landscape Painters," open through Oct. 12. Robbins, an instructor at Columbus College of Art and Design, and the other artists seek to evoke states of mind and emotion.

For the contributors to the Schumacher Gallery’s latest exhibition, "East of Eden: Contemporary Ohio Landscape Painters," the canvas is more a place to capture a state of mind than a specific place.

"I adhere to the idea that reality exists within ourselves and not in nature," explains Edwin Shuttleworth in his artist’s statement for the show open at Capital University through Oct. 12.

That reality, and the means of conveying it, is as varied as the vistas of land, water and sky observed and interpreted by the artists.

Gallery Director Cassandra Tellier commented that the title "East of Eden" was chosen to contrast the accomplishments of these regional artists with those of the more-recognized West Coast painters, and to point out that one does not have to travel far from home to find exceptional talents.

"It’s an old and traditional art form" and its possibilities are never exhausted, Tellier said of landscape painting.

While all of the artists are based in Ohio, they haven’t limited their subject matter to local landscapes, noted Tellier, pointing out paintings inspired by scenes from New England to California to Ireland.

The approaches are wide-ranging, as well, encompassing large and small canvases, abstract and representational works, and colors running the gamut from vivid to somber hues to black and white.

Jeny Reynolds’ enigmatic brush strokes contrast sharply with Allen Gough’s painstaking detail. But they both start from the same place.

"Memories of places that I have traveled were the inspirations for my landscapes," Reynolds observes.

Gough was influenced by his recollections of growing up in Ross County.

Memory serves many of the other artists.

"The mood that is set sometimes reminds me of my ancestors and their history with the land," states Rod Bouc, a Bexley resident who grew up on a farm in Nebraska. "Sometimes it expresses inner emotions."

For "East of Eden," M. Katherine Hurley depicted barns that had been part of her life since childhood and that had become "places of sanctuary, solitude and prayer."

In her works, Hurley eschews the colors usually associated with landscape painting.

"Black and white work is my greatest passion. It reveals the soul and the true energy of the piece."

The passage of time and the bond of the generations is found not only in the changing seasons but in the connections between artists.

"East of Eden" includes works by William Kortlander, who has painted landscapes outside of Athens, Ohio, for 30 years, and his son, John Kortlander.

Michael McEwen, Capital’s artist in residence, shares gallery space with his former student, Joseph Lombardo.

Ed Charney finds a connection and contrast between his fascination with towering thermal clouds and the ancient dolmen rock tombs that dot the terrain of Ireland and Scotland.

"They are the exact opposites of the cloud textures and patterns of my other paintings," Charney says of the stone structures, but clouds and sky remain a part of the compositions.

Kelly Moody offers a glimpse through the window of her world – literally as well as figuratively – with the uniquely framed "Ocean Road, Moonrise."

Moody seeks to "entice viewers to leave their familiar world" and enter one that is "mystical, even hypnotic" to find a place for quiet contemplation.

Many of the paintings reflect scenes and moods of tranquility, but all is not harmony.

Shuttleworth divines an apocalyptic battle in an angry winter sky in "Good vs. Evil," with Van Gogh-like energy.

Ultimately, the artists yearn for a paradise real or remembered or imagined.

"It seems to me that everything that inspires a sense of wonder in our lives, and lifts us out of our daily working world routine, is a glimpse of a path we are being shown to return to the ‘Eden’ within ourselves," artist Ober-Rae Starr Livingstone concludes.

The Schumacher Gallery, which includes an extensive permanent collection of European, American, Asian, African and Inuit art, is located on the fourth floor of the Blackmore Library. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m., during the school year. Admission is free.

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