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Land and Light: Paintings and Prints by Kathryn Metz

March 23 - April 30, 2005


The Wiegand Gallery is presenting the paintings and prints of Kathryn Metz in an exhibit being held March 23 through April 30, 2005.

Kathryn Metz is an accomplished artist whose work has been collected by such prestigious institutions as the New York Public Library; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chamaliers, France; and the Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation in Los Angeles, to name a few. She is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she was a highly regarded teacher for over 20 years.

This exhibition gives the viewing public an opportunity to see Kathryn Metz's large-scale paintings, plein air paintings, and woodblock prints. Her work explores the poetic relationship between painting and the natural landscape. The artist's work incorporates suggestions of the tangible world, a world permeated with light. Her forms suggest an abstract landscape space that flips optically into pure form. The hazy periphery of edges is like a distant memory as well as an atmospheric veil. The paintings are slowly built up by many small distinct marks, giving the work a seamless quality. There is a sense of serenity about the paintings that imbues them with a peaceful and contemplative quality, yet their large size and painting application, similar to divisionism, speak of a most rigorous and disciplined approach.

Artweek's March 2005 Previews section describes the artist's paintings and prints in the exhibition as follows:

The paintings' large scale and shimmering bits of color and light create the sensation of a kind of middle space between land and sky, within which the viewer is invited to momentarily float. Often created directly outdoors, references to the concrete objects of rocks, land, branches and earth are generally submerged into a more generalized field of light, cloud, mist and air.  
The tangible world remains secondary, a prop to express the atmosphere which appears as a veil, suggesting fuzzy photographs and faded memories.
The woodblock prints have less of an ethereal quality, but carry a similar energy generated by the vibrating rows of small horizontal marks which comprise the trees, the hills and the sky.

Kathryn Metz has an incisive intellect and a natural sense of curiosity. She is as fluent about politics as she is passionate about art. She is especially concerned with the environment, and belongs to a group of artists who are interested in the preservation of Elkhorn Slough, a wetlands area in Watsonville where she often paints. Concerning the Elkhorn Slough she said "Any observer with thirty minutes of quiet and careful looking and listening in and about the marsh can gain a new appreciation of the forms, movements, sounds, plants and creatures of these magic places, and will want to save them undisturbed, as we do."[1]

Kay Metz's studio faces a small quiet street on the west side of Santa Cruz. It is an organized space, but not too pristine as befits an artist who is both a printmaker and painter. The high ceilings with clerestory windows fill the interior with light. Whether one considers a small painting done en plein air, a print, or a large-scale canvas, the work seems to be all of a piece. Within this range of mediums, Kathryn Metz has found meaning and expression through the landscape motif. (right: Kathryn Metz, #24 Storm Front)

A 32 page, full-color catalogue with an essay by poet/artist Douglas McClellan will accompany this exhibition. There will be a benefit for the Wiegand Gallery Exhibition Program Sunday, April 3, 2005 12:00 -1:30pm. The event will include an exhibition walk-through with Kathryn Metz. Champagne and a light brunch will be served. Please call (650) 508-3595 for information and reservations by March 30.


From the catalogue:

Kathryn Metz's large landscapes have a panoramic sweep that floats the viewer into the middle space without touching the ground. Our view is weightless as we are suspended in a network of color and form. Any tactile references to rock, twig, and soil are set aside in the service of the shimmer and hum of light. Experiencing these landscapes with their elegant curves and translucent planes opens us to a harmonious world in which one landscape site transcends location and moves toward the archetypical. If the term "Luminist" was not already a part of art history, it would be perfectly apt for the paintings of Kathryn Metz. Her work is deeply involved in capturing the transient quality of light and giving it permanence. These skeins of subtle color built from small deliberate strokes seem like a light source within itself.

As Kathryn Metz has written, "Working in the full natural light of my studio the subtle, fragile light and atmosphere of our coastal fogs and mists, which always have seemed magical to me as color and form gradually emerge through a field of milky light, became an unconscious equivalent to the gradual buildup of color and form on a white canvas or page."



1. Readers may see additional information on Kathryn Metz and examples of her paintings on a web page maintained by The Elkhorn Slough Foundation.

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