In many unseen ways, the portion of earth we experience as children plays a primary role in shaping and defining us as adults. We grow navigating the contours of our environment, exploring its features, and anticipating the change of seasons as part of the wonder of creation. We develop an ever-changing interior map, defined by our movements in relation to the sun, and a taste for the earth, an earth bigger than anything we can imagine as a child. In short, we create our own legend with which to read all future travels, and as we mature, the passing of light from east to west, north to south, becomes metaphor for our days on earth.
This is why I love landscape painting, in its entire array. Painting landscape is possibly the most authentic and universal action a painter can perform. It does not have the specificity of portraits, or the socio-economic import of still life, and whether abstractly conceived with wash brush and ink or rendered realistically in oil on canvas, landscape painting has the power to transport the viewer to places both unknown and, yet, because of the taste for the earth we develop as a child, familiar.
Of all the forms of landscape dear to my northern-born heart, images of snow are the most enchanting. The individuality of snowflakes aside, there is something quite marvelous in seeing rock, earth, tree, and brush blanketed in a white crystalline covering of snow. The degree of stillness imparted to the land brings to quiet even the most agitated heart. What wonder exists in a cold winter’s walk, with stars dancing across a blackened sky, and the crush of fresh powder compressed beneath winter boots? It is a season of magic, not just in the many possibilities of sport, but also for the sheer visual pleasure of its multi-faceted stay from late October until early April.
With thought of the coming winter in mind, the Culver Coffee Company presents a small group of fifteen snow-covered landscapes by a variety of artists. Drawn from paintings and a few prints collected over the last 30 years, the exhibition celebrates the strength of images by known and unknown artists available in flea markets, antique shops, thrift shops, and the occasional internet auction. Snow at Barnham by Ronald Ossory Dunlop (1894-1973) is a good example of this. An oil on Masonite from 1963, this deep snowy English winter sketch has the feel of a furtive glance out the window. Though small, the jewel-like facets of the snow-covered fields are enchanting. Dunlop is possibly the most well-known of the artists on display with representative works in the Tate Gallery and National Portrait Gallery of London.
Each of the artists represented in the show approaches the snow-covered landscape in their own way, from the mid 20th century regional realism of Julius Delbos (1879-1970) and Miles J. Early (1886-1957) to the joyful simplicity of Naïve artists Betty Dawald (B. 1924) and Roman Golla (1917-2001). All find their way through the subject with honesty and expressive wonder, capturing an aspect of winter’s gift to the rural environment. Given Culver’s location on the north-west edge of Lake Maxinkuckee, one can only imagine what these artists would have done if gathered to paint Culver’s rural winter splendor. The exhibition will continue through the end of January 2019. Please, if you are near, plan to stop by and enjoy a winter’s moment.