Gardens of Delight

Weeds/Pods/Seeds/Landscapes at home at Lauritzen Gardens

Thanks to artist Kristin Pluhacek, Lauritzen Gardens can currently boast more than its usual relief from winter doldrums and environs. Pluhacek’s current show, Weeds/Pods/Seeds and the Landscapes enjoys a suitable home at the garden’s 100 Bancroft St. location in South Omaha with its own seasonal palette, connection and inquiry for the viewer to embrace. There are 16 pieces in the show which continues through this Sunday, April 17. Each provides an interpretation in color and line of perceived experience through Pluhacek’s poetic sensibility. The variation in scale and size of each drawing facilitates the presentation. Unfortunately, the glare of outside light on the framing glass is somewhat distracting. It would be a treat to see this exhibit with more controlled lighting at the artist invites us to participate in the perceptual joy of “seeing”. That’s the beauty and intelligence of her work, that she sets up possibilities for each viewer. In her chosen medium of pastel, raw pigment combines with a binder to create a drawing tool of pure saturated color. The marks, lines, and shapes made on the grain of the drawing paper reflect light waves directly back to the viewer. These direct qualities of pastel find a matching sensibility in Pluhacek’s hands. She utilizes the versatility of the medium in exciting and provocative ways. The landscapes orient a spatial experience of moving and stopping from the context of motorized vehicles. Dodge St. East pulls the viewer forward. The perspective of the road pushes the momentum while the scaffolding of sky pauses. The prismatic nuances in the air and ground become the clear sensation of a chilly day with snow partially covering the frozen ground. 78th St. Snowstorm forecasts a cocoon of falling snow while slowly moving ahead. Night Road II, Pacific Street Lights, and Metro Light utilize strong contrast with saturated color to evoke both stillness and motion. All of these drawings directly communicate their own unique experience. The longer one looks and considers the images, the more one begins to question: Is the space holding me, or am I holding the space? The weeds, pods, and seeds images present forms which can theoretically be held. Yet, these forms in Pluhacek’s hands become a possibility for further discovery. Clover III floats in an ethereal background. Looking at it one may also hear a melody as well. The blue gradually intensifies toward a center pause. The clover simultaneously holds and releases evoking a sensation of time and space. Could this image be the internal abstraction of a human heart with a green crown, or perhaps a ballerina doing a spring pirouette? While the possibility of narrative interpretation remains open, the interlocking of shapes is closed. Castor Bean Pod I and Castor Bean Pod II utilize red, black, and cream to full advantage. The shapes of each emerge from a central organization under a matrix of line. The tension between abstraction and representation enlivens each image. Are these castor bean pods, shrimp floating, lobster claws, sharp slivers, or lines lost and found within a field of surface, color, and texture? Indigo I and Indigo II present further possibility. Are these references to seeds and pods, or heads and bodies, figures and forms floating in a figure-ground ambiguity? Indigo I evokes a memory of Vincent van Gogh’s Dutch shoes. Velvet creams, greens, and blues hold rhythmic lines and tethered forms. Thoughtful questions are provoked by each drawing. Is the interconnection of marks and colors in “Common Burdock” referring only to a common burdock? The shapes and spaces are perceived in relationship to their scale, while the perception of abstraction or representation is at each viewer’s discretion. But though the meaning of Pluhachek’s art may rest with the viewer, its sensual impact is a garden of delights all its own . Weeds/Pods/Seeds/and the Landscapes continues through this Sunday, April 17 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. For details go to lauritzengardens.org.

posted at 09:45 pm
on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

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