Edgewood Gallery‘s current exhibit Nature Observed demonstrates how four artists working in different media portray nature, wildlife in particular, and human encounters with the natural world. The show is primarily but not exclusively realistic. Its strength is diverse media and the affection the artists have for their subjects.
Bob Ripley’s watercolor, “Survivors,” depicts a scene near St. Regis in the Adirondacks, focusing on several elements: a tall tree on water, clouds, an eagle, a man in a canoe. A second work, also on water, captures a fisherman casting what looks like a very, very long line.
Those pieces make up one aspect of Ripley’s work but don’t constitute a prototype. “No Fly Zone Purple Martins” builds its appeal on birds in the air, on a mix of moonlight, shadows and blue water. “High Water Mark,” also set in the Adirondacks, documents a scene in a river stream, emphasizing small creatures and vegetation just below the surface. And “On the South Branch” returns to water and fishing but also depicts a bridge located near Grafton, Vt.
Alan Hart, who creates photorealistic acrylics, portrays various creatures, including a red-tailed hawk whose wings loom large, and a nicely detailed common loon gliding just above water. One artwork portraying a pleated woodpecker draws the viewer’s eye not only to the bird’s boring into the tree but also to ridges in the tree’s surface.
Elsewhere, the artist moves in a surrealistic direction with “African Epiphany” and in a different vein with “Linear Pushback,” which positions an antelope standing completely apart from a herd of bison. There’s no sense that the antelope is in the same physical space as the herd. “Mandarin and Lotus” documents Hart’s use of colors and shadows.
He deals with species survival in “Extinct,” portraying the passenger pigeon, a bird no longer found on our planet, and pieces focusing on two types of snails from Hawaii that are listed as endangered. Hart depicts the snails in fine detail, suggesting that nature encompasses both beautiful birds and very small creatures.
Steve Fland, a self-taught sculptor, features several of his painted-wood sculptures. They depict a cattle egret, an American woodcock, a yellow crowned parrot seen in brilliant colors, and the three bob white quail birds sitting on a branch in “Late Riser.” Fland’s works amply document the artist’s commitment to making each sculpture as realistic as possible and to providing some sense of the bird’s habitat. Beyond that, the pieces are visually compelling, encouraging extended viewing.
Judi Witkin has worked with beaded jewelry for a long time, creating necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other pieces. Her works at Edgewood reflect her ability to create distinctive designs full of striking color. Look for her pieces with a butterfly pattern.
Nature Observed samples artworks by a quartet, lets their different approaches stand as is, influences viewers to consider both that diversity and an expansive common subject, the realm of nature. It’s an interesting show on several levels.
The exhibition is on display through Sept. 22 at Edgewood Gallery, 216 Tecumseh Road. The venue is open Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, consult edgewoodartandframe.com.
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