Various Trees by Various Artists
When I was growing up there was a substantial tree in my back yard, its protective covering and stable mass was a place to play, and an emblem of reliability. I spent many a day climbing that tree. After school, I often took a ride on its swing before going inside to drop my book bag. My sisters love to tell the story of how I attempted to float from one of the tree limbs with an umbrella in my hand like the Mary Popping character. I was awed when I moved into my current neighborhood by the amount of trees, and how they the density of the foliage covered the roads enough not to have to carry an umbrella in a light rain.
Recently residents of Savannah had a troubled experience with trees. With the arrival of Matthew, we evacuated only to return to find that enormous trees had fallen on homes in yards, in streets and on vehicles. Established roots embedded in the ground for decades wrenched from their beds of nurturing clay. As I walked my dog around the neighborhood, I stood amazed to see uprooted trunks amassing more than 50 inches in diameter piled high up and down the sidewalks, and still the clean up goes on. Reach: Trees an exhibition of Various Trees by Various Artists, is on display at a time when we may have trepidations about the safety of being in close proximity to the trees.
Trees are a source of memories; on one of my mother’s visits to Savannah, I took her to see our new library on Bull Street. She could not believe the age of the trees here. Just looking through the windows of the library at the massively knarred oaks, leaves one with a sizable impression of their age. My mother, commented on the stories the trees could tell, impressing me with imagery of just the stories those trees could tell, stories of forest and farm, stories of love and family, of welcomes and farewells. Stories laced with historical details of ceremonies and celebrations, of slavery, of lynching and of freedom all secreted inside the rings of the tree.
lose proximity to the trees.
This month’s tree show is a compilation of works by artists: Laura Adams, Stacie Jean Albano, Lyn Bonham, Lennie Ciliento, Nea Hanna, Deborah Llewellyn, Tobia Makover, Scarlett Manning, Rubi McGrory, Laura Neece, Preston Orr, Jennylyn Pawelski, Juliana Peloso, Peter E. Roberts, Daniel E. Smith, Shelly Smith, Bryan Stovall Lisa D. Watson, and Christina Edwards.
The show is homage to the trees and expresses many aspects of the trees. Notable in the show is a work titled, Autumn Light, by Laura Adams the piece shows the high contrast of the trunks of the trees to its golden foliage. In her work she entombs layers within wax in this Adams is able to accomplish depth of surface. By referencing depth of field, we enter the frame high above the landscape as if standing in the midst of a tree’s dense foliage. Repetition in the work brings to mind a musical rustling and because of the tactile substance of the construction of the work, is reminiscent of collecting leaves and of the aroma connected with the autumn season. Since Adams frames the work from a higher vantage point, the ground is out of view, there is the sense of floating, and time becomes irrelevant.
The work of Preston Orr, Grove, displays parts of the grove as a gridded compilation of perspectives. This sense of spatial depth has direct relevance in Orr’s work. In the image, the tactile quality of the surface of the tree is interspersed between the fiery prongs of the leaves. Much like the early work of Mondrian, the limbs of the tree become cursory notes in the poetic quality of the tree’s branches. The dark and assertiveness of the mark pushes these branches forward into the foreground of the flattened composition. This references jettisoned limbs and pushes the trunk into the distance, further; we interpret the grove from a bird’s eye view. The inclusion of Orr adds diversity to the show, it is important to see the grove in context of the exhibition. For Orr takes the concept of trees on as a unit. Orr makes us contemplate the contrasts of depth in Interpreting the infinite possibilities that spatial dept contains.
Juliana Peloso's images are reminiscent of the work by Whitfield Lovell, recently on display at the Jepson. By using the tree itself, Peloso paints remnants of the tree on its trunk. With skillful command, these visually referenced illustrations, together read as a work of installation. By painting on the tree itself the pieces, become homage to the tree, each image bearing witness to the life it once had. Some may recall making crafts with such tree cuttings, sealing pictures in thick shellac to preserve them for the ages. In Peloso’s art, she creates commentary on the desire to hold onto fleeting moments by preserving them in painted form. Painting in the work becomes emblematic of the loss of youth and the passage of time.
the sense of floating, and time becomes irrelevant.
that spatial dept contains.
Savannah landscape painter Daniel Smith creates breathtaking golden vistas of the landscape. Using a palette knife Smith molds and shapes his images to life; these paintings hearken back to the time when only trees and grass abided the landscape. Smith has the ability to see the environment for what it was and looking into a Smith piece is like looking back in time. Upon gazing between the trees in his piece, Family and Friends, one feels the sun touch upon the tree as the early portion of the day besieges man’s awakening.
The exhibition Reach: Trees, was organized by Peter Roberts, who also has work in the show. It is at the Location Gallery, gallery profits from the show will be donated to the Savannah Tree Foundation with a focus on replanting trees at Live Oak Plantation Georgia. Location Gallery is located at 417 Whitaker Street in Savannah, Georgia for more information go to www.locationgallery.net.