The ability to capture a moment, the capacity to create mood, and the power to provoke thought remain hallmarks of art, whether visual, written, played, or performed. It is in enjoying such works that we transcend the mundane and participate in the universal. Red Butte Garden’s current showcase of the 2015 Utah Watercolor Society Signature and Two Star Member Exhibition offers viewers the opportunity to distill a moment, to experience a mood, and to contemplate nature’s place within one’s world.
Standing Tall by Karen Heffernan earned the UWS’s Best of Show. When gazing at the work, the viewer becomes caught up in the delicate play of light dancing on the poplars, skipping across the grass, and reflected in the water below. The viewer sees a moment of sunlight and shadow captured in paint. Yet despite its permanence, the work also offers the viewer the opportunity to experience the moment. The viewer’s eye bounces with the light across the poplar’s leaves, skims the grass, and ripples across the water. The eye’s movement causes the viewer to participate in an active instant. Heffernan achieves this simultaneous sense of permanence and transience within her work in much the same manner of the French Impressionists. Monet mastered the vibrations of light through the placement of individual brush strokes and touches of color. Placing complimentary colors next to one another causes the eye to vibrate, to skip across the work’s surface, thereby creating a sense of movement. Heffernan utilizes this technique, carefully placing a touch of red within the green grass or nestled at the base of the trees. Individual strokes of luminescent green stand out from the soft blues and purples, creating a further bounce of the eye and reproducing the effect of sunlight dancing on windblown leaves. A moment becomes captured and relived within art.
Moods become created as one gazes at the artwork presented. A sense of calm tranquility pervades Lola Kartchner’s Last Light on Pineview. A sense of exuberance fills Jennifer Love’s Mountain Fall, and a sense of quiet thoughtfulness pervades Dianne Siegfreid’s A Traveler’s Musing. Within the art presented, the viewer experiences many opportunities to embrace a mood or a feeling, and this often gives rise to contemplation.
The concept of travel and of nature’s place within our contemporary society becomes highlighted within Sherry Meidell’s Award of Merit winning work Heading Downtown. Within this work, Meidell juxtaposes the Salt Lake City skyline, the cars parked on the side of the road, and the signs filled with busy information with the backpacked figure and the side trees. The viewer becomes forced to think of nature’s place within our world. Initially, one assumes that the backpacked figure leaves the canyons and returns to the city. Yet, upon contemplation, it seems as if the figure is leaving one wilderness before entering another type of wilderness, the city. Backpack ready, a long walk appears before him, filled with obstacles (the cars, signs, and buildings block his path). The peace of the soft, green trees at the side of the road contrast with the frenzy of the signs. Nature becomes a respite in our world. The city becomes the busy wild.
For the viewer at Red Butte, the Utah Watercolor Society’s show offers one the opportunity to explore the world of art and nature. Experiencing the beauty of a moment, of sunshine within the trees becomes possible both within the exhibit and the garden. Feeling the nuances of mood, of quiet evenings and exuberant days exists within the art and the grounds. Contemplating nature’s place within our world and our place within nature becomes possible. Art and nature, it seems, offer one the experience of the universal – of sharing a moment, a mood, a thought.
Thank you to our guest writer, Amourette Bradley, for sharing your watercolor thoughts.