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Sam Fuentes - Gallery Visit

The ‘Waterborne’ exhibit in the Katherine E. Nash gallery was a fine culmination of watercolor works from artists around (predominantly) the Midwest, including a few specially selected from the Weisman collection. A few dozen artists were featured with generally a handful of works from each, ranging from one to five-or-so paintings. All of the paintings were watercolor works, save for a few acrylic paintings by Karen Knutson as juxtaposition to her noted inspiration John Salminen, whose works were featured prominently on the same wall. Besides the proximity of these two artists, there left no real emphasis on the arrangement of the rest of the works in the gallery, since each group of artist’s works were completely independent of the next. I personally enjoyed the ability to wander aimlessly from frame to frame without guilt. The exhibit was mostly on canvas, mostly framed, and displayed a nice dialogue between opaque versus translucent paints.

Each painting need only be a watercolor, and the subjects of each piece were a world of variability. From bizarre abstractions of tangled lines and angry colors, to a soft and clear depiction of a houseboat on a sunlit afternoon, the paintings were of everything worth painting. One of my favorites was a work by James Boyd-Brent entitled “Tired Day, Grand and Still.? It was a collage of translucent hues illustrating a quiet woodland bay, on a lake at sunset, seemingly untouched except for the ghosted outlines of two relaxed human figures in the foreground. The trails of preliminary pencil sketches delineate the natural flow of colors, from the tree line to the lake, and the two figures sprawling across the rocks. And the two figures are the only parts of the work not given much emphasis at all, and hardly even any color beyond the pencil sketch and the bleeding from the hues around them. There is a variety of strokes featured, from the miniscule confetti storm of colors for the ripples in the water, to the ghostly light stains in the sky, which seem to be more spilled than painted. James Boyd-Brent stated his appreciation of watercolors for their permanence on the medium. They cannot be erased, they are irreversible. For his works in the Nash Gallery, he described his inspiration; “That sense of nature reflecting mood and feeling, and an expression of a state of being in the work itself, can emerge when working quite quickly and directly in watercolor.?

I would strongly recommend a visit the ‘Waterborne’ exhibit. As a matter of fact, I already have – to my overstressed mother, who could use some time to look at something pretty. I had never considered much the world of watercolor art, but after walking through the Nash gallery, I’ve come to realize the simplicity and beauty of it. It’s permanence is a characteristic to be respected, and requires much skill and careful craftsmanship. It’s a medium that you do not have complete control of. It’s something to interact with and play to your liking. There is a world of difference between your choice of translucent versus opaque hues, but both require the same care and consideration in each stroke. So for those of my friends who didn’t already know that, I would recommend a walk through ‘Waterborne.’