A Love for Landscape
Landscape hasn't been the most popular of subjects for perhaps a century, but it's having a moment. A recent book--Landscape Painting Now: From Pop Abstraction to New Romanticism--promises a smart look at some of the most interesting artists' efforts in recent history. This is encouraging, in an age when if you're not making art as social practice, art as political statement, art as a reflection of personal identity (or, better, the intersectionality of identities)--well, you're just not making relevant art.
But the great gift and pleasure of attending to our surroundings is one of the most compelling platforms for making art. It demands and encourages thoughtful, contemplative looking. It provides respite from the daily fast-changing media barrage of life and work in the 21st century. The landscape is both universal and highly particular, evoking specific places and yet also evocative memory and dreams.
While there are no doubt terrific artists of note included in the book, from David Hockney to April Gornik, in the landscape genre there are almost always local leaders. In the Miami Valley, Jean Koeller has been steadily looking at and painting the natural world in a way that is consistently compelling. Day and and day out, she shows up and shows us what it means to deeply engage with where we are.