Those seeking a splash of spring and an example of artistic friendship will find it in “When Nature Speaks” at Capital University’s Schumacher Gallery.
Painters and longtime friends Kirsten Bowen and Karen LaValley have collaborated on an exhibit of 40 works bursting with colorful flowers and trees and a dash of poetry. Each artist delights in the beauty of nature, especially in the spring and summer months.
Bowen, a former Columbus resident who now lives in Harrison, New York, creates text-based Venetian-style frescos with dye on wet plaster. Into her paintings of woodland scenes or flowers, she surreptitiously incorporates words from her own poems or the poetry of others.
“Sun Drenched Days” presents pine trees before a pond. Foliage on the ground as well as the water and the clouds are created with rounded brush strokes that camouflage letters from Bowen’s poem: “Flesh streaks on sun-drenched days (glistening, quivering flesh)…”
One of her smallest works, “Amongst Trees,” honors writer Katrina Mayer (“Time spent amongst trees is never wasted”) and is placed near Bowen’s huge triptych, “Of Meadows and Dreams.” This big, bold painting in blue and white includes words from Bowen’s poem of the same title.
Installing the exhibit, Schumacher Gallery Director David Gentilini interspersed Bowen’s paintings with LaValley’s, often according to a color scheme.
“They’ve been friends forever and I wanted to show them together and pick pieces that dance together,” he said.
Bowen’s “Take It Easy” (with words from The Eagles song) hangs below LaValley’s “Peonies.” Both works celebrate the big pink blossoms of the flowers.
In her work, LaValley is clearly enamored of flowers and adept at capturing them. Sunflowers, daffodils, roses, peonies and more star in her oil paintings.
In her “Table for One,” a glass vase of sunflowers stands on a small table in front of a lush array of what look to be pink hydrangeas. The scene glories in an abundance of blossoms.
When LaValley departs from flowers, she is still preoccupied with nature, capturing apple orchards, California’s Joshua Tree National Park and bare, elegant tree branches in the beautiful painting “Sycamore.”
The exhibit has the atmosphere and pleasing nature of French floral painting. It also demonstrates how works by two artists can cohabit in compatible, complementary style. All the better that the artists are friends.
At a glance
“When Nature Speaks: Paintings by Kirsten Bowen and Karen LaValley” continues through April 9 in Capital University’s Schumacher Gallery, Fourth Floor Library, 2199 E. Main St., Bexley. Hours: noon to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Call 614-236-6319 or visit www.capital.edu.