Hidden Valley Revealed opened this weekend, pulling together a number of local artists in celebration of the Hidden Valley natural area near Fairview Mall. The Homer Watson House is a great venue for this show, especially since the ceiling of the bright main gallery gives visitors a view of the treetops outside – an appropriate accompaniment to the landscapes inside.
I found it curious that so many of the eye-catching pieces in this show focused on the base of the trees or the usually-overlooked colours of the forest floor, rather than a more “zoomed out” landscape or view of the skyline. Many of the pieces explore what feels like a more intimate experience of the land at our feet and our fingertips (one of the artists that I highlight here actually has completed a series called Intimate Landscapes, so I’m probably not the only one who feels this way.)
“Hidden Beyond The Green” by Amy Ferrari (Acrylic on canvas, NFS) is granted prominence above the fireplace in the main gallery, across from the entrance (you can see it in the photo of the room above). The bright green of the field is a warm glow behind the red-purple pine trees and foliage. A closer look reveals Ferrari’s signature style, resplendent in waves upon waves that bring to mind either an ocean or an arabesque in typography.
“Hidden Life” by Annemarie Rogalsky (Oil on canvas, $800) looks at vibrant reflections in the water. The reflections at the bottom fade slowly into the muddy, foam-green ground near the top of the canvas, and the skeleton-white trees stick out from the water and the mud intermittently. Homer Watson Legacy Award.
“Late Future” by James Nye (Acrylic on Panel, $450) showcases the crinkling green-brown of the forest floor, with glowing clear-blue water pooled inside, as if the forest floor was actually a candy wrapper. The green-brown lines that reach through the blue wiggle into abstraction, leaving me unsure if the forest floor is poking up through the magical liquid, or a piece of branch is extending out over it. Juror’s Choice Award.
“The Sentry” by Tina Jensen (Oil, $400) is similar to Hidden Beyond the Green in the way that the bright colours of the background are interrupted by the subject of the painting, a thick tree trunk and wispy saplings that reach up up up to the corners of the painting. The green, blue and yellow of the background are bright and lively.*
*I really like these colourful palettes I’ve been seeing in oil paintings recently, and I hope we keep seeing more of them.
Ridge Trail by Vicki Brophey (Soft Pastel, $1100) looks at the subtlety of trees in winter. Yellow grass pokes through the at the trail at the top of a hill through the receding coat of snow. Above the snow on the hill, the colours are just a little more saturated, allowing red and purple to contrast the desaturated yellows and blues of the hill, and the Stark white of the snow and the yellow-white of the sky. Juror’s Choice Award.
Hidden Valley Revealed runs until October 22 at the Homer Watson House & Gallery on 1754 Old Mill Road, Kitchener, with an artist talk planned for Saturday, October 14 from 1 to 3 pm.