College of Southern Nevada Fine Arts Gallery host visiting artist Shona Macdonald.
FIELD NOTES: Shona Macdonald “Overcast” at College of Southern Nevada Fine Arts Gallery opened July 13. From her paintings you will be taking a walk with her and see shallow water found along a path. Sometimes you will see a calm stillness briefly interrupted by the touch of a breeze.
Macdonald’s “Sky on Ground” series of small works and larger pieces are source by images she captured on walks with her camera. Her puddles on the earth are a painted representation that guide you to seeing uneventful objects in the reflection, an upside-down realism of a landscape detail that exists just beyond the canvas. In some you see powerlines from light poles made with brisk wavy delicate lines, a capture of motion caused by a breeze that taps the surface of water; movement in the still-life of still water.
As intended by the artist, the works are prompted by romantic landscape painters like Caspar David Friedrich, who used painting to connect a spiritual read of the natural world.
In some of Macdonald’s work you see leaves laying near leftover water, a spot of fall color framed by muted blue and greys, or earthy texture of dirt road graded for travel. If these works are prompted by traditions of European landscape paintings, the leaves, in all their realism, also has you think of art historian Paul Johnson’s reference to Aelbert Cuyp’s use of cattle in works like “A Herdsman with Five Cows by a River.” Cuyp’s bovine show calmness near a body of water and adds atmosphere. Macdonald’s leaves that fell from an unseen tree do the same in her work. And her use of image next to, or in a body of water to set a mood shifts away from provoking a sense of awe with distant observation. She uses details of a presumed landscape to magnify intimacy with a feeling of displacement.
“Sky on Ground” is a pervasive series of contemporary paintings that are pensive observation that make a transition onto canvas to share a mood in all the works that uses melancholy as a subject. That gives weighted meaning to the title “Overcast.”
Shona Macdonald will speak at the College of Southern Nevada Fine Arts Gallery on Thursday, September 6, at 4 p.m. “Overcast” closes September 8.
'Moral Assault.' Photo: PtD.
FIELD NOTES: A new mural by street artist Izaac Zevalking, the social-political operative behind the brand Recycled Propaganda, continues his crafted commentary that uses pop-culture references.
This one is loaded. Titled “Moral Assault,” the large-scale stencil work uses the Morton Salt logo, known in the canon of corporate marketing as the Umbrella Girl.
Visible from the sidewalk on East Colorado just east of South Main Street, the icons of innocence are set against the blue field and repeated as a trio, so the stepping forward is now a synchronized march of defiance. The piece states protection from the elements is no longer hiding under an umbrella, but raising a fist in clenched protest. With the gesture of head facing down, the hand in the air kindles the moment when gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos wore black gloves. They raised their fists in a Black Power salute when the national anthem was played during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
What are the three salt girls protesting? That’s not clear. Is it something from the current White House that questions a moral choice via Tweet or policy action? The title also hints that sexual assault is the topic. It could be anything. During these times seeking something to speak out on is not hard. In this reign, it pours.
Cory McMahon Photo PaintThisDesert
FIELD NOTES: Cory McMahon is a painter who carries a peaceful aura. Don’t be fooled. His experimental work is a fury of strategic risks. Coming in the UNLV MFA Studio Art program he was known for his large-scale abstraction. One time he has an earlier work, a large painting, on the back wall of then CAC gallery for a group show. It caught the eye of art critic Dave Hickey, who was sitting on his throne across the room waiting to chat up “25 Women: Essays on Their Art.” Hickey looked up from his cup of coffee, saw the large canvas with fierce brush strokes and, in that Southern one-part-warm two-part-grumble, asked whoever was listening: “Who the hell did that? . . . It’s good.”
During his time at UNLV McMahon looked to go further. When the graduate students held an open house, he checked out hardbound dissertations from the UNLV library and stacked them in a display window. He called the installation ‘An Investigation of Analysis of. . .” McMahon even left his safe house of painting for his midway to explore ideas. That exhibition wasn’t what was expected.
So, what? I thought. That’s the point, isn’t it? To take chances.
McMahon's thesis show opens February 26. From his description, he is exploring the ideas of artist intent. I am looking forward to what he says about that through his art. The reception is March 9.
February 26 - March 10
Reception March 9, 2018
ABOVE: Luis Varela Rico