The Susquehanna Art Museum recently welcomed an exhibition to its Lobby Gallery featuring two artists in an intriguing juxtaposition of works in “Pattern & Place.”
Painters Danielle Klebes and Maija Miettinen share the gallery’s walls with vibrant, large scale works both incorporating patterned brushstrokes as a response to the world around them and individual places they inhabit.
Klebes’ oil paintings depict people in places undergoing various stages of transition – a snapshot of a fleeting moment of time. Her subjects are often surrounded by nature with no indication of a clear entrance or exit pathway. Such is the case in “Kook’s Scum” where a pair of hikers appears to be placed in a forest, near a graffiti covered wall. With no discernible trail, they are surrounded by paint-covered trees and thick foliage.
“I take liberty in creating the environments for my figures, sometimes completely removing them sometimes abstracting them, and sometimes adding surreal elements,” Klebes explained. “The painting are not specifically narrative, but they include pictorial clues to the experience of the subjects.”
Klebes uses organic patterns and a cool color palette when painting the environments in her work. Cool colors are typically shades of blue, green and violet and are used to produce a calming atmosphere. In “Idling,” two men float along in a canoe along a waterway, amidst lush forest. The reflection of the greenery is beautifully captured and produces symmetry within the scene from top to bottom.
Klebes’ rich colors are not overpowering and create the illusion of receding in space. For this reason, they typically make the setting appear larger, allowing the backgrounds to dominate and often, make the figures less prominent, but no less integral within the scene.
More information about Klebes can be found at www.danielleklebes.com.
Miettinen’s abstract acrylic and enamel paintings are complex composites of brightly colored patterns exploring the intricate interconnectedness of the world. Miettinen finds inspiration in the patterns of traditional Aboriginal painting of Australia. Often, she draws a comparison between Aboriginal art and the Finno-Ugric folk art from her own native country of Finland.
Miettinen challenges the viewer to experience her paintings from a distance and close proximity. As the viewer moves closer, the individual elements in the pattern may present themselves in a new context. In “Tidal Divarication” from a distance, a black diamond pattern catches the eye, but upon closer examination, beneath the diamonds are lighter pink, green and yellow curved lines. Resting atop the diamonds are colorful dots, which at a distance are lost but add to the complexity of the pattern when taken as a whole.
Miettinen’s patterned compositions are reminiscent of textiles, but openly reveal the natural imperfections of the artist’s hand. As in ”X-Maze,” a composition of lines and dots reveals less than perfect lines and paint drips from the dots, many of which reveal that the work was turned during the creation process as the drips flow in various directions.
“Where the configurations start falling apart and the imperfection of the hand become visible, I see vulnerability but also delicate tension and confusion,” Miettinen explained.
But do not let the imperfections be confused with flaws, since their presence adds creative value to the final product.
Another somewhat less prominent, but no less fascinating component is the contrasting sides of the canvases. Miettinen paints patterns on sides of the canvas, designs approximately 2 to 3 inches thick, giving a full 180-degree experience with each painting.
More information about Miettinen can be found at www.maijamiettinen.com.
“Pattern & Place” is on view in the Lobby Gallery at the Susquehanna Art Museum at The Marty and Tom Philips Family Art Center through Feb. 17.
Visitors will have the opportunity to meet both artists during an artist talk and gallery tour on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 3 p.m.
The Susquehanna Art Museum is located at 1401 N. Third St., Harrisburg, and is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, with extended hours on Wednesdays until 7 p.m. Sunday hours are noon to 5 p.m. Free parking is available to museum-goers in the lot immediately adjacent to the rear of the museum at Calder and James streets.
General admission is $8; $5 for teachers, seniors and veterans; free for children younger than 12. For additional information on the museum and exhibitions, visit its website at www.SusquehannaArtMuseum.org.