In many of her oil paintings, Blake
depicts forest scenes but not in a straight-up manner. She’s most
interested in how we interact with nature. On a fall day, we enjoy
walking around in the woods, viewing leaves whose colors have turned,
glancing upward after hearing a bird’s cries. We recall those
experiences, and the memories are part of our consciousness.
Eye candy: Three styles from three artists, on
display at the Delavan, include “Outpost” (from top) by Lynette
Blake, “Rainbow Falls” by Jim Van Hoven, and “Dear Ann,” a ceramic bowl
by Amy Haven.
In one sense, expressing all that in art
sounds like philosophy on canvas. Yet Blake isn’t conducting a seminar;
she has ample visual tools at her command. She uses a range of colors,
moving from explosive shades of copper to subdued blues to greens and
browns. She touches on human consciousness by including geometric
forms: circles, lines, other shapes. And she leaves room for viewers’
interpretations. In several works, she paints bits of branches, with
some of them coming together to form a web pattern. We can see that as
a reference to life itself or as an allusion to nerve clusters in the
Haven, meanwhile, is showing a new line
of work, one appearing in a gallery setting for the first time. She’s
creating pillow-shaped pieces that draw on both traditional ceramic
techniques and making a linoleum print. She has the ability to print
postcards, stamps and text on top of each work. Images of songbirds
appear again and again, including a very pretty Cuban bird. The
“pillows” don’t sit on a table, they are attached to walls.
The use of text for ornamentation isn’t
restricted to these artworks. Haven imprints text on vessels,
displaying salutations like “Dear Dad” and “Dear Susan,” as well as
excerpts from letters accessed from eBay, on raku pieces. The text
varies from Morse code on a vase to large lettering on “Bluefont I.”
This isn’t merely an innovative approach
to ceramics. It’s clear Haven is intensely interested in words and how
we use them, particularly in the context of the early 21st century.
She’s both recalling an earlier time when letters and postcards played
a much larger role in personal communication and celebrating the beauty
Van Hoven depicts landscapes in various
media: paintings, etchings, drawings, woodcuts. Thus, viewers see works
with a different feel, including “Simmering Pool,” a piece done in
charcoal; “Shipwreck,” a watercolor; and especially woodcuts such as
“Swamp in Winter.” Van Hoven’s woodcut, “Northern Nocturne,” is moody
and reflective, a piece combining finely cut treetops and delicate
moonlight. Because Van Hoven doesn’t have a large selection of artworks
on display, it’s somewhat difficult to assess his work. Nonetheless,
the woodcuts are in a league by themselves.
While Elements, on display
through Dec. 19, is the main show at the Delavan, the gallery also
presents “Wild Card” exhibitions that usually run for two or three
weeks. So alongside Elements, you can also view Syracuse Ceramic Guild’s group show, which opens Thursday, Dec. 3.
Delavan Art Gallery, 501 W.Fayette St.,
is open Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m. For more information, call 425-7500.