Groveland Gallery’s Two New Exhibits

June 8, 2009


Above: Gary Bowling's big enameled pail of "Color Notes" (photographed for use here with the gallery's permission).

Friday my friend Diane and I ended up at the Groveland Gallery around 2 p.m. They were open, but their new show wasn't officially open until 5 p.m. We were able to spend time soaking in the new paintings alone in the galleries. (The two shows—one in the gallery, one in the annex—run through July 18.)

At the entrance to the Gallery where Gary Bowling's large landscape oils ("Notes to Self") are on display there was a pail of his "Color Notes" (see photo) left out for gallery visitors. Bowling uses these small squares of board (2 inches or so) to test color combinations and textures to see how they will work before working on passages in his large canvases. Process Girl Roz was mesmerized by these.

Bowling's landscapes are lovely, but they didn't quite speak to me. I found the colors sometimes jarring. Diane (a landscape painter) and I quibbled over details of composition. But if you love large landscapes you'll find much to absorb. My favorite piece here was "Study: Lake Tree," a 10 x 10 inch oil on canvas piece that was probably the smallest piece in the show and at $400.00 surely must have sold at the  opening. The loose brushwork and confident handling of values and limited color in this piece really sing. I found myself wishing Bowling had transferred more of this energy to his larger pieces.

You can see many of the paintings on the website link I provided above.

Also at that link you'll see images from the Annex show—Fred Anderson: New Paintings. Don't bother to look at his stuff on the web however, the images are just not photographed well. They don't capture what Anderson is doing with paint.

Get up RIGHT NOW AND GO OVER THE GROVELAND and look at Anderson's paintings in person. (Of course I'm talking to folks in Minnesota, but the rest of you would benefit from an in-person visit too.) If you have spent any time in Minnesota you will recognize immediately the world Anderson captures. But you won't just see it, you will feel the temperature of the day, the sense of the season, the exact nature of the light, the smells particular to that time of the year. It is all in his paintings.

"They are living and breathing things," I said on the phone to my friend Karen, when I called her from the Annex, "but not in a creepy Edgar Alan Poe sort of way." I told her there were 6 or 8 paintings here that should be hanging in her house. (Don't you just love it when your friends go out and try to spend your money!)

"Church in a Small Town" (12 x 16 inches, oil on board) is perhaps my favorite. You can feel the day, the breath of air. Hear the birds, the breeze, the breathing of the plants. And even more wonderful is the chainlink fence in the right portion of the painting. Many folks try to paint chainlink fences. Few get it right: being either too fussy or too minimalistically suggestive. Anderson nails it with an approach that works at 2 inches and 20 feet.

Other images have incredible renderings of snow so perfectly and accurately lit that you can actually hear the snow melting and know exactly the temperature in the air.

"Oak Trees with Hay Bales, Co. Rd. 45" (16 x 36 inches, oil on board) looks laughably poor in the digital image up on the website listings. In person this is a rich, stunningly lit, moving image. The value progression in the oak trees is dead on accurate for the angle of the light and the season. In person the field is not a mush of yellow, but a complex, active area of rich texture. I have spent so many hours standing in the fields waiting, and tracking with my dogs. This is exactly how the light looks.

In his artist's statement Anderson talks about how he works. He drives around the state working from his car, working plein air, returning to the same spot over a series of days. In cold weather he actually works in his car, the "mobile atelier."

If you live in Minnesota; if you ever lived in Minnesota; if you love Minnesota for any reason; if you want to feel nostalgic, without bearing the weight of sentimentality; if you want to feel current with life in the state; if you want a depiction of the meterological magic that is Minnesota—then you need a Fred Anderson painting. It's that simple. Don't miss his show in the Annex. (Let's just hope he gets a new photographer who understands how to shoot his work! I recommend Tom Nelson Photography—he approaches artworks with a sensitivity for capturing and translating the actual work into a faithful digital representation.)

    • July 10, 2011

    Fred, in deed, is an amazing artist. And a nice person too.

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