Into the Woods, an art show featuring new landscape paintings by six artists: Diane Carr, Elisabeth Condon, Kim Krans, Kurt Lightner, Christopher Patch, and Anna Schachte, is on view today through September 4, 2008 at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park. The artists’ works explore forests as enchanted places, a theme that has long been explored through associations in well known tales such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood. Bringing their distinct styles to this fertile subject matter, each artist creates his unique interpretation of an imagined landscape with imaginative use of color, imagery and form. Clare Weiss, Curator of Parks & Recreation’s Public Art Program, organized the exhibition.
In many of the works, the artists blend recognizable forms with abstraction. In Settle (2008), Kurt Lightner moves from his signature collages of painted Mylar shapes into a more free style of painting: rendering a tropical forest, he packs the picture plane with hot colors and abstract, but suggestive, forms. In her dramatic rendering of a tree trunk in Old One (2006), Kim Krans adds depth and mystery to the painting by applying glitter, fur and other tactile media to the surface of thick black paper.
Reality and dreams blend together in the artists’ works. Diane Carr’s paintings are the most literal depictions of forests, and yet even they are made romantic and expressionistic by Carr’s use of dramatic light and unnatural color. Elisabeth Condon’s Seuss Dynasty series blends elements of the childhood book illustrator Dr. Seuss’s style with that of traditional Chinese landscape painting, in a magic coupling which transports the viewer deep into the fairytale forest.
Into the Woods presents other creative interpretations of the magical forest. Christopher Patch’s installation of bird watercolors and various documents and fragments pinned against a faux wooden wall, suggest a walk in the woods and the life of the artist. With trompe l’oeil technique, he creates multiple illusions regarding the experience of viewing art. Anna Schachte’s Painting Road also references artistic practice; a color wheel and perspective lines begin as artist’s tools, but the painting is transformed into a landscape with the addition of trees.
The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, in the context of New York City parks and their history. The Gallery is located on the third floor of the Park’s headquarters in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gallery closed on holidays. Admission is free.
Parks & Recreation stewards 29,000 acres of parkland, including over 10,000 acres of forest, woodland, freshwater wetland, and salt marsh ecosystems. Through Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC vision to establish a sustainable New York City, Parks will expand the City’s urban forest by 20% by 2030, which involves reforesting approximately 2,000 acres of parkland. To find out more about these reforestation efforts, visit the MillionTreesNYC web site at www.milliontreesnyc.org.