“Landscape as…”

Photographs, Paintings & Drawings

These landscape images, with their visual chaos and elegant filigree textures, use faithful representation as well as abstraction to point toward a world within. They are intended as “interior landscapes” which find their meaning within the viewer, more than in the view itself.

As a longtime maker of landscape images, I’ve become suspicious of seeking the “ideal” viewpoint. Whether touring Yellowstone or ambling through a modest State Park, we are lured to follow signs pointing to the idealized vantage at “Artist Point”. There, we are bid to take in the impeccable beauty of nature…albeit at arms length. (I do have to confess a personal susceptibility to the siren song of postcard racks at the park store or the allure of pristine Sierra Club coffee table books. Both are kitschy/elegant representatives of our deep yearning for an idyllic world.) Perhaps because of this “personal flaw”, and my tendency to run against the grain of prevailing art practice, I argue that there is still a place for “beauty” in contemporary art.

But, the desire for a deeper, more urgent connection to what I see, experience and then translate into art, continues to challenge what engages me. And, it informs what I hope to convey through my work. Simon Shama got it right when he asserted that: “We are accustomed to separate nature and human perception into two realms, yet they are in fact, indivisible. Landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock.” (Landscape and Memory, 1996)

As you look at this set of Landscape paintings, drawings and photographs, your cultural framework and your personal relationship to nature are inevitably projected onto the wood, water, and rock in the scenes before you. How each of us receives and perceives nature is influenced by both our cultural context and our personal histories. We tend to see what we expect. I hope to challenge that expectation of “landscape”.

These works are not meant to be neutral canvases of ideal views; they are not offered from the “Artist Point”. Rather than showing idealized images of nature and landscape, they take on a messiness that is personal to each of us. If successful, these pieces offer an occasion to reassess not only the view, but also the lens through which we see the natural world.