May 29th 2021

Leslie Baum
Tanya Brodsky
Deborah Brown
Spencer Carmona
Andrew Holmquist
Mike Howat
Olivia Schreiner
Sophie Treppendahl
Emma White

Carrie Secrist Gallery is pleased to present the group exhibition PLAIN AIR featuring nine artists exploring the traditional genre of landscape. This exhibition opens May 29 and continues through July 17, 2021. It will be viewable in person by appointment at our gallery space located at 900 W. Washington BLVD, Chicago, IL. Our online viewing room and exhibition will open to the public Saturday, May 29 at 10AM (CST). To make an appointment in person, please visit the Reservation page on our website.

Whether painting en plein air, or from the confines of a studio, the landscape is the original natural point of inspiration and awe. The existence of such is permanent, yet always changing, both from a literal point of view and from a sensorial one – that arises from the viewer. The interpretation of the landscape at the hands of artists meets the natural world in a reflection. This mirror can offer a wide variety of sensations that inhibit, displace, or exasperate but as a genre – or original art historical trope – the landscape is an ideal muse.

The artwork on view in PLAIN AIR has primarily been made within the last year and a half. This timestamp corresponds with the majority of our population existing in a physically confined state that borders on a mentally restrained state of mind. The landscapes on view highlight an oppositional tension between the real and the rendered, the idyllic and non-idyllic, the rational and emotional, all of which are intensified by our proximity to the outdoors. This heightened sense of spatial awareness – staring out our windows, taking our pets for short walks, sitting on our back stoops – is an intensified collective subconscious desire to be immersed in the natural landscape. As we are finally returning to a time when the atmosphere around us was composed of plain air pre-pandemic, we communally can breathe in and let out a huge sigh of relief.

With over forty artworks by nine artists on view in our multi-room 10th story penthouse-turned-exhibition space, PLAIN AIR offers a setting with multiple views of Chicago’s urban landscape. This built environment is representative of the different types of landscapes on view. From pastoral to metropolitan, bucolic to angst-filled, psychedelic to representational, the range of aesthetic values of the landscapes mirror a collective experience.

Leslie Baum’s (Chicago) long-running practice of plein air painting in and around Chicago is on view with four subtly abstract paintings of eerily familiar environments. Tanya Brodsky’s (Los Angeles) hanging two-way vertical blinds subverts and exploits our relationship to nature. Deborah Brown’s (New York) “Shadow Paintings” shifts a mundane personal task – walking her dog Trout – into an immersive and existential experience. Spencer Carmona’s (Los Angeles) moonscapes tackle color theory as a repetitive task attempting to capture the ethereal. Andrew Holmquist’s (Los Angeles) plein air paintings simultaneously capture the light, mood, and potential of California’s originality. Mike Howat’s (New Hampshire) paintings of still-lives of the sills of windows create framed portraits of landscapes. Olivia Schreiner’s (Chicago) atmospheric paintings pit exteriors against interiors with a wound up tension using light as an interloper. Sophie Treppendahl’s (New Orleans) paintings frame a captured landscape in windows with a palpable strain made all the more intense through her brush stroke and use of perspective. Emma White’s (Toronto) paintings on paper focus on the outdoor world around her albeit with a very subtle human signature.

PLAIN AIR was organized with assistance from gallery artist Andrew Holmquist.

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