At first glance, the works on the walls of Anna Bier Gallery seem incredibly pleasant, inspiring happy thoughts. And then upon stepping back and taking another look, the viewer experiences deeper feelings — pure joy and abiding peace.
The scenes captured on canvas by members of the Southwest Ohio Plein Air Society send the viewer to light- and color-filled places where earthly cares and concerns melt away. So give yourself a mini-vacation, and partake of the lovely exhibit currently on display in the Gallery located within Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall.
Based in and around Cincinnati, the Southwest Ohio Plein Air Society is dedicated to advancing fine art painting in the plein air tradition. Painters first started taking their brushes outdoors in the mid-1800s following the introduction of paints in tubes and the invention of the highly portable field easel, making artists’ basic equipment much easier to transport from place to place. Legitimized and made popular by Claude Monet and other Impressionists, plein air paintings luminously reproduce natural light and true color.
In this exhibit, many artists depict enticing paths wending through lush landscapes; former Greenville resident Kathleen Kilgallon is among those artists. Her “Glenwood Gardens Path” leads to an inviting gazebo; “Vinoklet Arbor Path” runs beguilingly beside a low wall, and in “Countryside Walk,” a wooded path through autumn foliage elicits desire for further exploration.
Mason, Ohio, resident Carol Holland has painted delicate orange blooms harmoniously contrasting with green leafy stems in “Garden Path, Mt. Airy Forest,” capturing a lovely moment in time, as does her almost monochromatic “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” depicting silvery grain bins against a silvery-blue sky. That picture’s title could appropriately have been given to an oil painting by Mary Beth Thompson-Dowlin; “Tribute to a Friend” recreates the fabled Rabbit Hash General Store as it looked prior to the horrific fire that earlier this year destroyed the historic building that had stood in northern Kentucky since 1831.
Diverse pastels by Lynn Hogan are appealing when viewed up close, but become even more alluring when seen from a distance. One peeks through “The Arch at Maple Street” to view charming homes sitting by a foliage-lined street highlighted by light and shadow; “Bayside St. Pete’s” uses browns and greens to depict a familiar pseudo-tropical deck overlooking the shoreline. “Cherry Blossoms” flow down like graceful pink fireworks in a simple yet spectacular work by the same artist.
“Flower Stand” shows an American flag flying in impressionistic splendor over the wares of a plant vendor; this picture is by Amy Evans of Terrace Park, Ohio, whose “Library, Lexington” offers a romantic rendering of a timeless white edifice, while her “Mt. Adams View” looks down over a whimsical Cincinnati outlined in blue. “Bellevue” by Craig Lloyd offers a glistening glimpse of the northern Kentucky suburb from a Cincinnati hilltop; Mr. Lloyd is an associate professor of Art and Design at the College of Mount St. Joseph, which may have provided the perch for his view.
In a lovely scene enhanced by a full palette of shimmering greens, Martha O. Carmody captures a graceful white swan floating near the water’s edge in “Swan A-swimming.” “Country Giant” by the same artist depicts a monolithic old tree, its heavy branches extending in a plethora of fascinating angles. Two paintings by D. J. Berard also stand out; in Gatlinburg Trail I and II, slashing strokes of intense color highlighted by streaks of white and citron depict sturdy rocks in a fast-flowing stream, capturing the timeless essence of a place now enduring traumatic change.
These transporting vistas and many more whisk you to an enchanting but fleeting moment made eternal through art. All of this beauty and light remains on display at Anna Bier Gallery through Dec. 17; the Gallery is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. To view the art at other times or to arrange a tour, contact Anna Bier Gallery Director Marcia Weidner at 937-417-3497.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.