Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
“The Poetry of Place” panel held yesterday in LPAC brought together the artists Sharon Horvath, Kevin Wixted, Sarah McEneaney, and David Kapp to discuss the sources of their work, examples of which are on display in the List Gallery. The List exhibition, entitled “Painting Structures: Specificity and Synthesis,” brings together varied examples of painting inspired by structure. The gallery will be open through March 30; hours are noon through 5, Tuesday through Sunday.
The panel discussion allowed each of the artists to discuss the influence of their artistic sources, setting photographs of their architectural inspiration and images of their own work side by side. Each artist eloquently explained the different effects of their inspirations. Sarah McEaney eloquently explained her work as: “What I do is turn chaos into some kind of order.” Common to all of the artists, however, were the approaches of observation and selection.
The pieces in the List Gallery attest to the extraordinary abilities of these artists to observe and select to render something new that is still faithful to its inspiration. The work of Rackstraw Downes presented in the List, such as his “12th Avenure at 134th Street, Study,” is clean and precise, unflinchingly faithful to light and space. Dual vanishing points invite the viewer into the scene, forcing one to choose a direction in order to take in the moment and appreciate the structure presented.
Every structural depictions were dynamic. Yvonne Jacquette’s work seems to vibrate with short, bright brushstrokes. In “Walmart and Other ‘Big Box’ Stores, Auguste, ME II,” solid surfaces become fluid and light leaps from the page through her bright color palette. An equally electric charge is infused in Sharon Horvath’s work as lines travel and enwrap the scene creating curiously familiar shapes in unfamiliar ways.
Kapp’s work uses dramatic contrast and strong diagonal movement to create nearly abstract design from aerial cityscapes while Wixted’s paintings develop impossible space that is both markedly flat and fully dimensional. Narrative comes into play in the work of Stanley Lewis and McEneaney. McEneaney’s pieces demonstrate her incorporation of elements with specificity rather than strict adherence to the rules of perspective, while Lewis’ densely layered paintings use color to create rich interactive forms and complex spaces.
In her opening to the panel discussion, Andrea Packard, the List Gallery’s director and curator, observed that, “These artists are connecting with an impulse to make sense of the world around them… the depth of their observations is what sets them apart from others.”