Archive for October, 2012

.MW Capacity is pleased to present Tenses of Landscape, an invitational group exhibition of contemporary landscape paintings. The exhibition is on view from October 1 – November 4, 2012, in the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery, in Fayetteville, AR. Throughout October, MW Capacity will post a series of artist interviews and other statements, as well as images of works featured in Tenses of Landscape. We sent the participating artists a list of general questions and prompts. Some replied, some replied in-depth, some chose not to. This post includes some responses to the prompts, as well as images and links.


My relationship to landscape is a bit more ambivalent in that I approach landscape as a genre rather than experientally. The aim of the piece included in the show is to highlight the artifice of the conventions of the genre. This can be expanded to include how contemporary human beings interact with the natural environment, not so much directly as indirectly (ie. tv nature programs, state parks, urban landscaping…etc..) In some way, I was trying to get as far away from the romantic idea of landscape as possible. Saying, “look, not only is a landscape painting an obvious construct, but so is the way that we interact with nature.” Maybe this is a cynical approach but I separate the experience of taking a walk in the woods from the experience of making a painting. My experience of making a landscape painting is neither transcendental, nor do I feel a deeper connection to place by doing it. There’s this mall here in the Milwaukee suburbs that is made to closely resemble a “downtown”. I think there’s something really perverse and interesting about a place that’s made to resemble the thing it displaces and destroys. So this is how I think about landscape…as just another genre among others to explore and critique. I’m attempting to build the analogy between the idealized and manipulated environment and the idealized and constructed painting.
More of Shane’s work here. Shown here: Reconstructed Afternoon, 2008, oil on canvas, 29×29″

My greatest hope for my work is to use the strengths of painting to lend a grandeur to the world we live in. And for me, the suburban sprawl that Rem Koolhaus called “junk space” is a part of that world. So among the trappings of classical painting – beauty and drapery, color and form – there is still brick and mortar, fluorescent bulbs and house plants. The world is pretty amazing and both the amazing and the mundane can be a site for the uncanny.

That my paintings are constructions – collages of sites from memory, history, and life – is at the front of how they should be viewed. These pictures are their own realities. I hope that they pull on the memories and experiences of the people who look at them. That inside that hand builtworld, one might find stumble across a surprising moment.

Memory is often an act of creation. I made a series of pieces in 2005-2006 that were based on memories of houses I grew up in (Grandma’s house, my childhood home, and so on). In each case, the painterly decisions layered on top of the memories of the real places, so that the memories became more like the paintings. Eyewitnesses can be influenced through questioning to misremember faces, actions, locations. Nevertheless, we rely on our memories to accurately resemble the reality we live in, usually denying that we’re creating large portions of that reality to suit ourselves [editor’s note: Grant’s contribution updated November 13].

Shown:  Makeout Spot, 2010, 36×40″. More of Grant’s work here.
Three related paintings by JULIE CIFUENTES:
Coniferous Epidermis, IRL23kl9a, Oil & Wax on Canvas, 10 x 14”, 2010; Deciduous Epidermis, SYc8126m, Oil & Wax on Canvas
14 x 10”, 2010; Coniferous Epidermis, IRL1209rG, Oil & Wax on Canvas, 10” x 14”, 2010
More of Julie’s work here.

MEGAN WILLIAMSON: I paint where I am. Mostly I am in Chicago, so I paint here. I am a landscape painter and always looking for new places to work. In the city I am drawn to sites where nature and infrastructure bump up against each other in curious and (what I see as) paintable ways.

Over my ten years of landscape painting in Chicago I have developed a very particular way of seeing it. I know about the undersides of bridges, where to look for pocket parks and how to work alongside expressway off-ramps. I have found a jewel of a green space surrounded by skyscrapers and where an old quarry has been turned into a park. I have developed a fondness for brick smokestacks, cell phone towers and chimneys because of their compositional potential. I recognize the kinds of trees that thrive here – some by their common name (gingko, oak, linden) others by the names I have given them (wallpaper, garbage, lollipop). Through trial and error I have learned how to address the urban obstacles of parking, access and safety. I also have learned what to do if a flock of Canadian geese get aggressive (bark at them). By working right in them, I have felt quite connected to landscapes of Chicago.

Once I paint a place I never forget it. Seeing it again is always paired with the memory of the painting I did there. The site has become a private landmark for me. Not only have I spent a considerable amount of time in it, and because of the nature of the places I choose, it is unlikely that anyone else has painted the view. In this way, in a city of millions I can lay claim to some amazing real estate. As a painter I have found that connecting to a landscape is important to me.

View more of Megan’s work here. Shown: Strange Brew, 22×29″, 2011

TIM KENNEDY: On Lincoln Street, oil on linen, 2011
More of Tim’s work here.
MICHAEL KRUEGER, Mound City, colored pencil on paper, 25 x 20″, 2012
More of Michael’s work here. Also, Michael currently has a show up at Steven Zevitas Gallery.
MIKE EAST: Window View at Sunset, Oil on Panel, 32 3/4″ x 40 1/4″, 2008
More of Mike’s work here.

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MW Capacity is pleased to present Tenses of Landscape, an invitational group exhibition of contemporary landscape paintings. The exhibition is on view from October 1 – November 4, 2012, in the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery, in Fayetteville, AR. Throughout October, MW Capacity will post a series of artist interviews and other statements, as well as images of works featured in Tenses of Landscape. We sent the participating artists a list of general questions and prompts. Some replied, some replied in-depth, some chose not to. Today’s post includes a few responses from the prompts (the prompts themselves are excised, because most answers tend to stand on their own).

ALSO: Emily Gherard will be deliver a lecture on her work on Thursday, October 25, at 7pm in room 213 of the Fine Arts Center, on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. Read on for Emily’s responses.

AND: Big thanks to Brett Baker of Painters’ Table for his coverage of the exhibition!


I would hope that people understand our connection to the landscape. We have evolved right along with every other single-celled organism, palm tree, narwhal, and topsoil ecosystem on the planet. Our culture, religion, and politics have all been shaped, to some extent, by our earliest surroundings. From an evolutionary standpoint, the environment shapes a people’s psychology, and thus their eventual myths, like religious myths.  So the earth/environment/landscape creates and shapes the culture from the beginning.

More of Ricky’s work at rickyallman.com


I hang out and discuss art with artistically inclined people more often than with full-out artists. Some are writers, musicians, hobbyists, or artisans. I also hang out with a lot of adventurous people. They always are excited about experiencing the world as it is, rather than trying to be a part of a scene or discussing themselves. I like that. I think if I weren’t an artist, I would be a professional adventurer, like a mountain climber or scuba diving instructor.

I tour on my bicycle a lot. While riding through Galena, IL, to pick up my broken car in Stockton, IL, my friend and I came across all these interesting structures, roads, and hills. If you take the back roads, there are these kooky dying small towns, landscapes, animals (domestic and wild), folk art that the creator doesn’t think is art, and small businesses. I’ve always liked regionalism to a certain degree. So I’d say the Midwest isn’t the same—just on the interstate. And if it seems all the same to a person, well, that person really doesn’t know how to explore and look at the world.

I really enjoy looking and reading about artists from the Northern Renaissance, like Lucas Cranach. I think it must have been a very imaginative and adventurous time. They took so many risks.  And the lesser-known artists have this bizarre quality in their work. It was a dangerous time to be alive but it must have felt exciting.  Not only were they exploring new worlds, but also the ancient past.

More of Jenn Wilson’s work here.


I use the landscape, images of rocks, walls and space, to address ideas and themes about one’s relationship to the world around them. I try to capture the feeling that the space is both defining the forms and destroying them.  The way a viewer typically moves though a visual space within a landscape painting is a devise I can use to draw them into the painting. By working from my imagination, the forms and space can be whatever I need them to be. A rock can be any shape I want, while still feeling specific.

I recently heard an interview with a writer who said that it is not the over arching themes and plots that make a book or keep a writer writing but the love of words and sentences. That made sense to me. For me, the paintings have to be made bit by bit, choice by choice. Mix a color. Try it, change the value, adjust the shape, push the materials around until they feel correct. This type of figuring things out means lots of small specific choices made over a few months. So my “big ideas” change or get lost and replaced.

[It’s hard to remember] that a painting goes through many stages of uncertainty, ugliness and sometimes triteness before it is complete. I find when painting I constantly need to take “a leap of faith.” There is the hope that the resulting painting is more than the sum of its parts.  A hope that through the act of making the ideas become bigger and better than the simple ones I can think of.

[I enjoy] the moments when I am working with the materials and come up with something new to do–a task or process to try. These moments only last a few hours but they contain the exhilaration of frenzied making–while much of my painting process is slow and reflective. Also, the point in a painting when the daily things around me relate or remind me of my work–where everything thing seems like it can be food for the work–are moments, and always exciting and surprising.

When a painting is starting to solidify and I am excited about it–I become “hungry” and start to actively search for specific things to feed the painting with. As I move around the world I try to remember my paintings and how I can use what is around me: a particular light, a color combination, a feeling or mood.  In front of my paintings, I try to remember little the things that I observed.

In this way, my work is directly influenced by the landscape around me. I am a northwest painter.  For many years I was trying capture the dry, harsh feeling of eastern Washington. The landscape there is expansive and beautiful from a distance and rugged and harsh as you walk through it. I wanted the feeling of trekking through the land. The overwhelmed feeling of insignificance one feels when in the west coast landscape. Currently my work is influenced by landscape of western Washington–wet, gray and just as looming. I have been going to the Olympic Peninsula, 4 hours west of Seattle, for 16 years. It’s a place that holds deep significance for me. I go there to recharge. After many years of visiting there regularly, I still get the excited feeling of anticipation when I get on the ferry and head out there. In painting, artists talk a lot about the specificity of place; as a location, time and intellectual space. Every time I get off the Edmonds/ Kingston ferry and begin the long drive out to the Olympic coast, through the dark rain forests, through the shocking areas of clear-cut forests, I think, “This is my place.”

I personally really like to hear what people have to say about their paintings—not always for the most generous-spirited reasons. But I do feel there is often something lost when an artist speaks too openly about their work and working process—both for the audience and the artist. I tend to speak to too specifically about my work, like a teacher that explains a lesson to death and leaves no room for the student’s own imagination. I don’t hold back. I have found, in the past, that this empties the work for me and it is hard for me to move forward with the same work after I have spoken about it too clearly. I am trying to learn how to talk about my work while keeping something for myself.

More of Emily Gherard’s work here.


I’m in the Austin, TX, area and there is actually a disappointing amount of ‘sameness’ here. Reacting against that sameness has become essential to my work. Really reacting against sameness has been a part of my work since before I moved to Texas. I find the unique things (older buildings, trees, alleys/garbage) much more valuable than the things that seem to be increasingly built to replace them. Those old buildings, alleys etc. remind me a lot of painting itself; often with handmade buildings (frame houses etc.) you see the evidence of a single person, an individual, at work. I often think of my paintings as a celebration of those unique things, a way to hold on to them since they seem to be disappearing.

My approach (percentage-wise, observation vs. invention) is about 25/75. I use personal photos as a way to keep things specific in my paintings, keep them kind of concrete (that’s the 25%). That’s usually just a starting point however. As I work on a painting, my imagination, memories of the place being painted and the things that are happening in the painting right before me guide me more than the original source image. Sometimes that can be a subtle thing; changing the palette, adding or subtracting trees, buildings or people. Sometimes that can be very drastic, as in the Night’s Progress painting. Imagination is essential to my work as I try to make paintings that are expressive of my feelings while at the same time having kind of a believability about them.

My actual physical experience with the landscape varies a lot throughout my life. Growing up in western Pennsylvania really formed the way I look at the landscape, the way I project my feelings onto it. In Pennsylvania I had a lot of actual experience with the landscape, with nature firsthand. In Chicago, I began by painting what was around me, but I focused on the things that I wanted to see and left out the things that I didn’t want to see. The more I painted though, the more and more I was drawn to experiences I had had with places in Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas. The paintings of those subjects were far more rich to me than the paintings of Chicago. Here in Texas, I’ve noticed the same pattern develop. I initially began painting what surrounded me, and have now become more interested in painting Pennsylvania. So, it seems that an initial connection to landscape is important for me, but a certain amount of disconnection is just as important. If I paint what I’m surrounded by, it’s too easy for me to fall into making a straightforward, representational painting. I’m not interested in that. Some distance helps me see interesting relationships or feel free to follow my own route in various other ways through the painting.

Leaving Chicago was kind of a passive aggressive way of isolating myself from a community that I was a part of. Actually I thought living in an area that I had been painting from afar would help my work. I figured that that was more important than having a community. However, not having that community has made me really miss it. [Even] when I do (or did) have that community, my paintings are really made in a solitary world. Usually I don’t share them until I’m done with them. I love to hear what my peers have to say about them, but I guess it’s kind of rare that I open up during the creation of a painting. What’s more important to me is having access to museums and galleries. Often just being in an artistic community, whether I’m an active participant or not, is enough for me. Whether that’s an advantage or disadvantage regarding my work, I don’t know.

[On influences:] A few off the top of my head…Friedrich for the epic quality of his paintings. Also because many of his paintings referred to the actual and appear very believable, but were greatly informed by his feelings. Burchfield for his close connection to what was around him as well as a joy in experiencing it. Burchfield is important to me also because of how humble his work appears. His paintings are so dramatic but are so clearly the work of one man just looking at what’s around him. They feel like they were made sitting down, and I mean that in a good way. Vuillard for making paintings of what was around him that seem both intimate and epic. Bonnard for his palette of strange warm cools and cool warms. Similar to Vuillard in the armchair epic department. I guess that’s the common ground between these artists.

I’m influenced by the above painters for their idiosyncratic vision, their adherence to their personal vision. An important lesson I learn from them is that I’ll be alright if I do my own thing, if I believe in what I’m doing. It’s definitely stifling to have your heroes in mind all of the time. So I think it’s best to follow your own path, and when you get stuck, consult them for some help and then continue on.

View more of Joseph Noderer’s work here.

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MW Capacity is pleased to present Tenses of Landscape, an invitational group exhibition of contemporary landscape paintings. The exhibition is on view from October 1 – November 4, 2012, in the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery, in Fayetteville, AR. Throughout October, MW Capacity will post a series of artist interviews and other statements, as well as images of works featured in Tenses of Landscape. We sent the participating artists a list of general questions and prompts. Some replied, some replied in-depth, some chose not to. Today’s post includes a few responses from the prompts, as well as some relevant links to other online content.


KIMBERLY TROWBRIDGE:  After living in the Midwest for many years, I moved back to the Puget Sound area where I had spent my early childhood. Living here, one is surrounded by pockets of water on the one hand, and deep mountain forests on the other. There is a sense of mystery, of the unknown, at every periphery. When I was a child, I used to spend time descending into the large gully behind our house that led all the way down to the train tracks that ran along the waterfront. There was a sense of danger, and the fear I felt was part of its majesty. I was searching for clues, for that one particular stick that would give me the gift of flight. The forest was full of secrets, and I was listening.

When I think of the landscape, I think of the implications of deforestation on the human mind— the loss of access to those mysterious messages that have guided me as an artist. I think of the loss of the unknown, the loss of uncharted territories. Recently I saw images of an “uncontacted” tribe found in the Amazon. There was a small group of people looking upwards at the plane taking the photograph. This image has haunted me. What is happening to the human mind, the human experience, as we cut away access to a landscape that can reflect the deep interworkings of the subconscious?  What are the implications of satellite photography and Google mapping, where the unknown is being closed in on by the nameable, the known? Dystopia is about this fractured mind. It is a depiction of the moving-in-on the very last patch of grass left on Earth.

I am interested in relationships between things, in metaphors, in associations that connect separate events of perceptions. These associations can be triggered by color, by shape, by language. Painting is a place where these associations come together, and where their relationships can be explored, and their tensions maintained. I want to create a visual space where the viewer stands at the cross-road of multiple associations, and where the connections between those associations are revealed through an intimate, personal response to them. This is not unlike the poetry of daily life— the mingling of the internal and external landscapes of experience, and our quest for meaning.

I do not believe in ‘objectivity.’ The world extends outwards from our body and mind, and comes rushing back in, redefining who we are. Life is a collaboration between the internal and the external; it is a dialog. In painting, I seek to make that dialog visible.

More of Kimberly Trowbridge’s work here.

CARLA KNOPP: Entering the painting process is entering a place of complete autonomy. One becomes liberated from previously established motives and goals (of both external and internal origins). One becomes liberated from oneself. I experience this fear when I relinquish my own agenda, and replace it with trust that something good will happen.

A second type of fear occurs when something “really big” does happen. When manna rains down, it’s a bit terrifying. In the back of one’s mind, this is the only reason for even doing this—for something beyond one’s own comprehension and abilities to spring forth. This closeted goal lingers and causes discomfort because one fears it will not happen, and also fears it will. It’s daunting and exhilarating.

Scatter and discard everything, reject it even. Let yourself be really dumb. The important stuff finds its way back into the painting, and it’s startling when one realizes, after the fact, that things are working really well (even in an academic sense). So often, conceptual ideas will sync up with personal narrative ideas and it can happen through unintended formal collaborations. My work in this show exemplifies this multiple hook-up of unintended intentions. I was very reluctant to use a metallic ground for the Lane Markers. I thought the elegance of the surface would distract from the “us-them” psychological setup of the archetype. I went ahead and used the metallic ground, and while I worked on them, I kept feeling vaguely frustrated. I struggled with lighting, and with viewing the reflective work surface. At some point, it dawned on me that the formal qualities of the metallic surface were mimicking the subjective theme. I wanted to enter into the scenes I was creating, and the metallic ground optically pushed me back. Us-them, desire-repulsion, intimacy-boundary. I am certain I could not have pre-calculated such a dynamic between subject matter and formal action, and I’m also certain I would not have recognized it without an academic perspective.

More of Carla Knopp’s work here.

KRISTIN MUSGNUG: For me, the big, overarching issue has to do with how we as humans construct an idea about what nature is, and what does that say about ourselves – how does that affect what we do? I started in Texas with a landscape that wasn’t completely domesticated or wild. I’ve dealt with gardens as a place where nature has been constructed, and mini-golf courses as a place where nature has been constructed ridiculously. Ideas about Arcadia, of pastoral nature, are interesting because they are ideas that shape nature into what we think it ought it to be. This led to national parks, which are managed to look like they’re not managed. The truth is, with so many people there, everything’s kind of trampled. I don’t get the sense of vitality of nature that I get in a place that isn’t an official park. I made a painting once of a park trail where a birch tree had fallen across, and rather than just move the tree, someone had very carefully cut out just the part of the tree that crossed the trail [as if to say] “this part is undisturbed.”

The whole idea of nature is so fraught. I don’t think anybody can think about nature, or painting outside, without being aware of the assault that people have made on what was once the natural state of the earth. With these paintings, it’s the first time in a while where I’ve been going to very wild places, where I don’t feel the presence of a person. I’m feeling a certain strangeness about that. Painting, then listening to the news about global warming, the acidification of the oceans, and here I am painting this… bucolic isn’t even the word, this romantic, pristine kind of fantasy, trying to wrap my mind around that. It’s not like I’m going to stop and go paint a toxic waste dump. For me, that’s been done.

We have a sort of feeling that a lot of art is aimed at something disturbing, uncomfortable. I’m irritated when people use the word “subversive.” Ted Kaczynski is subversive. Does art have to be all that?  It CAN be challenging, but as a Westerner, I don’t know if we’re equipped to do that.

I’m not sure objectivity exists. My whole enterprise is predicated on that. The act of recording something kind of encodes a memory. I have very subjective responses to paintings that I don’t have to photographs. Some of what I’m doing in the studio is based on memory, and I have to hope that enough got into the studies.

One of the byproducts of doing the project on invasive species is that I became very aware when I walked through the woods of what an intact ecosystem looks like and what a compromised system looks like. Superficially they might be similar. It might look like woods, but you look more closely and the whole understory might be something running rampant that doesn’t really belong there. Uncompromised systems have this richness and patina. It just feels like a much richer environment. I think that’s partly what’s driving me now, why I’m going to these pristine places, because there’s a visual richness that I’m intrigued by.

There’s so much coming in at any one time, you have to sort of make a decision about where your attention is going to go. It’s more so this way in landscape, which is one of the reasons I like it, but this is present at any given moment: mind as reducing valve.

One of the things that I love about painting is that it’s a shared language dealing with the visible world, yet it goes into a person’s mind, changes, and comes back out. You’re in their mind with them. it’s an incredibly intimate endeavor.

More of Kristin Musgnug’s work here.

Lastly, a link to the first post MWC did on CASEY ROBERTS, back in the days of the long-format comment thread conversations…

More of Casey Roberts’s work here.

Shown on this post, top to bottom: Kimberly Trowbridge, Dystopia, 2011, oil on canvas, 22×20″; Carla Knopp, McJunkin Road, 2010,  oil on metallic ground on linen, 31×47″; Kristin Musgnug, Mossy Rocks, oil on canvas, 2012; Casey Roberts, The Witnesses, 2012, cyanotype drawing with gouache on paper, 53″x53″


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MW Capacity is pleased to present Tenses of Landscape, an invitational group exhibition of contemporary landscape paintings. The exhibition is on view from October 1 – November 4, 2012, in the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery, in Fayetteville, AR. Throughout October, MW Capacity will post a series of artist interviews and other statements, as well as images of works featured in Tenses of Landscape. We sent the participating artists a list of general questions and prompts. Some replied, some replied in-depth, some chose not to. Today’s post includes a few responses from the prompts, as well as some relevant links to other online content.

MICHAEL KAREKEN: I rely on photography as my primary source material.  So while my images aren’t invented or imagined, I do work away from the motif or subject matter in my studio.  I do this partly for practical reasons (the places I paint are dangerous, and they are constantly changing), but primarily I do it for creative reasons.  I have found that having physical and psychological distance from my subject allows me to be freer, more creative and imaginative in my work.

My current scrap and recycling work — which touches on broad issues of waste, consumerism, and environmental degradation – grew out of my interest in a paper recycling plant that is located next door to my studio in St. Paul, Minnesota.  On days when I was having trouble painting, I looked out my window and watched the workers sort and process the scrap paper and cardboard that was dumped in the yard of the facility.  Over time I became fascinated by the place and felt compelled to make some work in response.  My initial paintings were simply an attempt to understand and document this one particular place.  The experience of making that work led me to explore and paint other related sites around the Twin Cities and eventually grew into a body of work that I think makes a larger statement.  But for me that larger statement grows out of an intense involvement with particular places.

Larry Groff did a video interview with Kareken for Painting Perceptions. More of Michael’s work here. Shown above: Scrap Engines, 2009, oil on canvas, 84×96″

Claire Sherman will visit the University of Arkansas to deliver a lecture on Thursday, October 11. A reception in the Fine Arts Center Gallery will be held at 5:30; the lecture is at 7pm. Claire did an interview for MWC a few years ago, linked here. Shown above: Cave and Trees, 2011, oil on canvas, 96×78″

More of Claire’s work here.

MARGARET NOEL: I recently started working almost exclusively in wax and collage because it introduces an element of chance and unpredictability into my work.  When I apply a heat gun to fuse the layers together, the paint blooms: some pigments come to the surface and others sink. Wax has a way of running outside the borders I set for it, which feels like an apt metaphor for the act of painting itself. I’ll set out to paint for a few hours, and then realize that I’ve been in the studio for 10.

I want my paintings to capture the sensation of lost memory, the feeling of trying to pin down a vague or eroded memory of a place, or smell, or a particular type of light. I usually don’t include specific, recognizable landmarks or identifying signs because I want the sense of familiarity to carry an undertone of doubt. Is this landscape the same as the one I know, or just similar?

Authenticity, capturing something that feels real, is very important in my painting. But in order to capture the essence of a landscape, I usually find it necessary to distort and alter what I see.

I always begin by drawing in the landscape from direct observation. These drawings are as accurate and precise as time will allow. If I only have 20 minutes, the drawing will be more generalized. If I have more time, the drawing tightens and becomes more specific. I then use this initial drawing to develop an encaustic painting in the studio. Working from the drawing rather than en plein air gives me a step of remove and distance from reality. I feel no sense of responsibility to follow the drawing exactly, instead I use it as a general reference that can be either simplified or expanded at will. Working from a monochromatic drawing lets me invent color based solely on value.

Half my week is spent in Brooklyn and half in Pennsylvania, where I teach drawing, so I spend a significant amount of time on the road.  The only constants are my car, the sense of limbo, and the interstate itself, which connects the two halves of my life.  Living in flux gives me a heightened awareness of the importance of location.  In my work I try to balance my conflicting desire to pin down and understand the nuances of a particular place against the desire to draw parallels by highlighting the recurring forms and similarities. As I translate the shapes from observation to drawing to collage to painting, what is lost in accuracy is gained in authenticity. The image becomes a blurred remembrance of a landscape rather than a precise rendering.

Two artists that I find myself thinking about a lot as I paint are Diebenkorn and Vuillard.  They represent two opposing impulses in my work. As I start to construct my encaustic paintings, the first layer is composed of collage ironed onto a waxed surface. The process of fitting the collage pieces together reminds me of how Diebenkorn organized pictoral space.  His paintings answer my need for tight boundaries, clear sharp edges, compressed space, vibrant color, and lush surfaces.  Once I lay down the first layer of collage and move into the overlapping layer of pigmented wax, my mind shifts towards Vuillard’s small oil paintings on cardboard. Vuillard speaks more to the fluidity of perception. Like Diebenkorn, reality is suggested rather than mimicked, and like Diebenkorn, his spaces are tightly organized and compressed, but unlike Diebenkorn, Vuillard’s shapes and patterns run and flow together rather than adhering to tight boundaries and sharp edges.

More of Margaret’s work here. Shown above: Concrete, 2012, 10 x 14″, encaustic and collage on panel

MARK LEWIS: Most of my work is painting/drawing/ collaging from perception.  However, I do enjoy working from a blank canvas on a fairly regular basis.  The paintings are inspired by the perceptual work but are more or less street fiction paintings.

I’m interested in combining specific information at particular view returning to the same view over several weeks – or sometimes months.  I do make quicker studies – usually skies – that seem to be about a specific moment or day. I depend more on sensation than memory.

[Regarding the sense of an immediate artistic community, ] I’m teaching – so most of my interaction is with students and visiting artists.  I also try to travel a little every year just to see more galleries, museums, etc.  In many ways I don’t mind being a bit isolated even though isolation won’t help your career. I was fortunate to be around so many good painters as a student.  They affected me in so many ways.  I’ll list a few: Dean Bloodgood, Wilbur Niewald, Stanley Lewis, Ruth Miller, Andrew Forge, Jake Berthot, Gretna Campbell, Louie Finklestein, Bernie Chaet and Rackstraw Downes.

More of Mark’s work here. Shown above: Peoria Ave. #3, 2009, 59×51″

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 MW Capacity is pleased to present Tenses of Landscape, an invitational group exhibition of contemporary landscape paintings.

The contemporary artist’s world is a dense plurality of options, framed in a similarly wide variety of contexts for viewing and interpretation. The discipline of painting is certainly no exception to this, even when applied to a genre as commonly known and accepted as the landscape. Some landscape painters convey reality in compellingly quotidian detail, reflecting or critiquing the complex relationship between humans and nature; others construct neo-byzantine visions of the future that may thrill or terrify; some work intuitively to give form to the ephemeral, conveying what cannot be said; and many bend or break accepted rules of vision, reminding us that perception itself is both a privilege and a discipline. Tenses of Landscape, an exhibition comprising recent works by nineteen contemporary painters, presents both broad and dynamic depictions of landscape revealed as motif. Moreover, each artist examines the terrain dictated by these approaches and in turn addresses the act of painting itself. 

The exhibition is on view from October 1 – November 4, 2012, in the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery, in Fayetteville, AR. In the next five weeks, MW Capacity will post a series of artist interviews and other statements, as well as images of works featured in Tenses of Landscape. Two participating artists will deliver slide talks at the University of Arkansas in the next few weeks: Claire Sherman (October 11, reception in the gallery at 5:30, lecture at 7 pm) and Emily Gherard (October 25, reception in the gallery at 5:30, lecture at 7 pm). Read on for an introductory statement.

[At left: Claire Sherman, Cave and Trees, 2011, oil on canvas, 96×78″]


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