Grace Grothaus is a landscape painter but not in the traditional sense. She wants us to see the true representation of the world we live in today not an idealized romanticized version. Her landscapes are made up of many layers of plexiglas containing layers of paint. collage elements, incised lines or electronic light elements. I have the sense that they are very luminous seeing the reproductions of her many layered works but we will get the real feel of them when we see them in person and interview her on May 12th in her Tulsa, Oklahoma studio for our documentary. We chose Grace both for the uniqueness of her work and also how differently she looks at her environment in Oklahoma from some of the other artists we will be interviewing. The images begin with aerial photographs of farmland, industrial sites, river systems and city grids. Nature is imposed upon by the hand of man.....
AUGUST 25, 2010
365 Degrees and Rising
The city's arts seasons are heating up as seasons change. And one project, Art 365 just gets hotter as its diverse exhibits zoom toward critical mass
BY LIBBY WILLIAMS
The Oklahoma Visual Artist Coalition, or OVAC, is another such organization that is contributing to this effort through a unique exhibition for Oklahoma artists called Art 365.
Since it began in 2008, Art 365 has been successful in bringing national recognition to Oklahoma artists as well as providing the necessary means to keep artists working in Oklahoma.
"We view the exhibition as an investment in research and development for the artists," said Julia Kirt, executive director of OVAC. "Art 365 fulfills specific needs for area artists to receive both funding and feedback, allowing them to explore their vision and improve their work."
This year's Art 365 curator Shannon Fitzgerald chose five artists out of 102 proposals to each receive a $12,000 honorarium toward creating a body of work for the Art 365 exhibition.
After selecting the five artists she most wanted to work with for the exhibition, Fitzgerald's responsibilities as curator include meeting intermittently with each artist as a means of discussing their ideas, offering guidance and pushing their visions to their full potential.
As a contemporary art curator and art writer, Fitzgerald is well experienced in instigating this sort of dialogue and has proven to be an extremely valuable asset to the artists and the exhibition.
"Art 365" demonstrates in the most visibly exciting way -- that deserving artists, when provided tangible creative, intellectual, and financial support, excel," Fitzgerald said.
Let's get down to it, though. Art 365 supports Oklahoma artists financially and publicly, so let's meet this year's group.
Covering the Land
Art 365 has taken Tulsa artist Grace Grothaus high into the sky and around the entire state of Oklahoma in preparation for her body of work titled, OK Landscape: From cornfields or oilfields.
Grothaus is preparing 10 back-lit paintings for the exhibition, each an aerial view from various locations across Oklahoma.
"People have an idea of what landscape is but it doesn't exist anymore," Grothaus said.
In the first stage of her creative process, Grothaus hired a pilot to fly her from Green Country to the Oklahoma panhandle to take aerial photographs depicting the encompassing effect industry has played on the landscape of Oklahoma. Photography is not a medium she works in frequently but was the most successful option for obtaining the kind of imagery she would later incorporate into her paintings. Grothaus primarily works as a landscape painter.
Her images show Oklahoma as a grid of oil refineries occasionally disrupted by the organic contours of rivers, lakes and natural terrain.
Photographing the terrain was merely the first step in creating her work for the exhibition. From there, she enlarges the photos to a size of two-by-four feet and begins the process of building up the image through application of mylar, paint, electronics and natural objects such as leaves and sticks. Her final product walks the line between painting and sculpture as her inventive layering process changes the dimension of her work.
Additional to the numerous mixed media elements she incorporates within her paintings, Grothaus also utilizes light as a key player in her work. Each piece is framed so that it is backlit by a light located inside the frame. For this effect to work Grothaus is careful to keep the layers on the surface translucent. "For me, light and shadow are as important as hue and tint," Grothaus said.
To add another level of complexity to her work, she intends to implement LED lights functioning as motion detectors into each piece. The lights will correspond to the viewer's movement as they move closer to the painting.
She does not want her paintings to be viewed as an attack on the oil industry. Her intent is to simply show viewers what their environment truly looks like, that it is not the same as the one that have pictured in their heads. "I know my work will be successful if people take the paintings home with them, whether or not they bought one," she said.