Mosaic / Reviews / January 23, 2019

‘Embracing the Evanescent’ exhibit reminiscent of Impressionist work

Students visit Judy Koon’s landscape exhibit, “Embracing the Evanescent” in Borzello Gallery. (Katy Coseglia/TKS)

This wasn’t my first trip to Borzello Gallery — I can thank my Art Museum Curating class for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Gallery’s permanent collection — but it was the first time I’d gone into Borzello to look at an exhibit there.

The first thing I noticed was the way the paintings were arranged; spaced out at eye level, and circling the room’s wall like a sort of multicolored belt. Almost all of them were hung in landscape orientation, which made perfect sense since most that I could see were landscape paintings. And there were a fair number of them, the largest of which seemed to be about the size of a shoebox, maybe a little bigger.

Before I started examining them in any closer detail, I read the brief text description of the exhibit, hoping to glean some background information before I dove into the exhibit. A traveling exhibit, at Knox since Jan. 11 (and leaving Feb. 8) is a selection of some of the work from the artist Judy Koon, whose brief explanation indicated that she is a landscape painter. The name was unfamiliar, but the paintings quickly roped me in.

The first I saw was a wave tinged with pink, white and grey crashing over a break, set against a grey background. I was struck by the feeling that I was looking at an impressionist’s work from the late 1800s. Circling around, I found a completely different landscape tinged with plenty of green and hills, with a farm atop one, and was struck by the thought that it looked rather Irish. I also felt as if I was looking at works from across the globe. All of the landscapes seemed so different and completely unrelated.

As I skimmed through the paintings, I wondered why there weren’t any plaques with information on them — not even any giving the names of the pieces. It seemed like a curatorial oversight until I noticed a packet lying on one of the two benches in the Gallery, which turned out to be a guide that listed the names and dimensions of each of the pieces.

Flipping through it, I quickly discovered that all the pieces were from a select few places. The seascape I’d liked was actually from Lake Michigan and entitled “Lake Michigan Wave — Winter II,” and the “Irish” landscape was actually … an Irish landscape. My impression had been correct, to my surprise. I chalked that up to my Scots-Irish heritage giving me a subtle signal about the piece. It was entitled “Bunclody, Beyond Newtownbarry House, County Wexford,” though my family came from the south of Ireland, not the Northern Irish county shown in the landscape.

Most of the pieces are from the last three years, with the exception of some black-and-white works that had been painted in 2010. The scenes they depict were mostly from Michigan and Ireland, and I enjoyed looking at them all. It’s certainly something I’d recommend taking a look at if you get a few minutes in your day and are in the area.

Alex Crawford

Tags:  artist Borzello gallery guest artist impressionist Ireland Judy Koon landscape michigan paintings

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