Natalie Featherston & Robert LaDuke: The Art of Story, Group Exhibition
September 25, 2017
Natalie Featherston and Robert LaDuke are visual storytellers whose paintings call for open-ended interpretation and curious viewer participation. LaDuke's cartoon-like paintings take us on adventurous odysseys through natural and industrial landscapes while Featherston brings to life whimsical characters from constructed still lifes with her trompe l'eoil technique. Both artists will present new work for their upcoming group exhibition opening September 29th.
“I work directly from life and I love building the collages just as much as I enjoy painting them,” says Featherston, who literally pieces together found materials in order to first construct the worlds that exist within her paintings. "Cutting and gluing all the little paper shapes together and choosing all the things that go into making up the story helps me to create a narrative vision that goes farther than simply making a pretty painting. Anyone can do that; I want to tell a story.” In Featherston's playful narratives, mermaids have tea with underwater pirates, dinosaurs steal donuts and wolves howl at desert dreams. Her work evokes humorous and mystified responses as the viewer navigates its deceptive illusions, looking closer at what appears to be crumpled paper, glued beads and taped strings. “If I can make you question the line between what’s painted and what’s not, well, that’s where the fun comes in for the viewer,” says Featherston.
In LaDuke's storybook-style paintings, fashions, buildings and cars from previous eras populate skillfully structured compositions painted with clean, contemporary lines and sharp, vivid colors. His travel-inspired imagery takes us on cross-country road trips past rising skylines, across bodies of water, through peaceful forests and barren deserts. LaDuke’s paintings are directly influenced by personal experience; he spent a large portion of his childhood traveling around the country with his family visiting national parks. The parks themselves as well as art created around the parks act as inspiration. "I really like the national parks posters that were printed by the government in the thirties and forties," he says. "I wanted to create my own version with elements that hold personal meaning to me." Consequently, visions from the backseat of his father's Cadillac with Airstream trailer in tow make their way into LaDuke's paintings. "Forest" is a piece that was inspired by trips to Yosemite Valley and a particular stone bridge that stuck out in LaDuke's memory. "By painting each stone I feel as if I am building an actual bridge in some way," says LaDuke. "(In "Forest,") I wanted to paint a mood and time of day with a hint of a mysterious feeling, crossing a bridge into the unknown."
See Natalie Featherston and Robert LaDuke's group exhibition, "The Art of Story," on display at the gallery from 9/29 through 10/5.
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