Just Landscapes?

An exhibition of paintings by Southern Artists who invite us to slow down and look at a landscape we may be losing.
curated by Beth Nichols
October 1st - January 3rd

Featuring Paintings by: Ron Boehmer, Jim Condron, Gray Dodson, Durwood Dommisse, Tom Hale, Frank Hobbs, John Hughes, Rolland Golden, Greg Hennen, Philip Koch, Frederick Nichols, Lindsay Nolting, Maruta Racenis, Tom Tartaglino, Priscilla Whitlock, Steve Wolf and others

- Click here to view "Just Landscapes?" info sheet (pdf)

Just Landscapes?

The Importance of Landscapes
by Frederick Nichols

Recently a new series on PBS about America’s National Parks recognized the importance and significance of saving our national landscape and how it reflects our history and our ideals. Many years ago a space rover landed on Mars and sent back incredible pictures of the Martian surface and landscape, mostly rocks and boulders. It was as though a new consciousness had been achieved but through a purely visual experience. Why is it that images experienced on location or through other devices can affect our senses and communicate a profound understanding of our environment?

When I began my career in the 1970”s as an artist and decided that I wanted to concentrate on landscape very few serious artists were painting landscapes. Some were getting their abstract images from landscape roots and others were working with the urban or suburban scene, but the picturesque view was avoided and considered passe. The more commercial art market produced the usual Impressionist and Hudson River knockoffs that had been available since the 19th Century. But modern and contemporary artists concerned themselves with more conceptual themes updating abstract art and pop art.

Today many artists are returning to the landscape subject partly because there seems to be more interest but also because concern for the environment has made us all profoundly aware of the fragility of our space. Awareness of our surroundings, rapid changes everywhere have made the recording and study of landscape more urgent. Debate about new highways or Walmarts have become common. How does a new massive structure change the view or take away from our quality of life? What is the difference of experience between a manmade, natural environment and a wild, untamed natural place? While we preserve much of our historic structures, what is the need to preserve some of our natural areas? Perhaps landscape study and painting will show us the way to save some of our natural history.

In 1871, Thomas Moran did a remarkable series of landscape paintings of the strange, unknown area of Yellowstone, and because of his work Congress was convinced to establish the first National Park in this country and the world. He certainly showed the power of landscape painting - not “just” a pretty picture.