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Kathleen Gemberling Adkison: Unexpected Visions

Article # : 15507 

Section : THE ARTS
Issue Date : 4 / 1997  251 Words
Author : Editor

       Adkison has never been moved to depict her natural surroundings literally. Rather, her paintings evoke fragments of the environment--remembered or imagined impressions of a rock face, a waterfall, the meeting of stone and ice, or a mountain scene--while transforming them into Modernist abstract images. As art critic Matthew Kangas has noted, she does this by using strategies of midcentury Modernism such as pouring and spattering paint, disrupting conventional expectations of composition, and foreshortening perspective so that emphasis is put on the flat surface of the canvas.
       Through this process of abstraction she creates meditations that seem to penetrate to the very heart of nature. Here the contrasts between rock and water, heat and cold, and light and dark become the interaction of monumental, living forces. In Basalt Event, we witness the birth of a geological formation. Harbinger, with its paint thrown aggressively at the canvas, reminds us that melting ice and water are the heralds of spring at the highest altitudes. Crystalline Face isolates a crevasse in the icy face of a mountain, while Jubilee Morning (originating in a memory of a Mount Everest hiking trip) and Rosy Quartz Barrier approach Albert Bierstadt's invocations of awesome, light-crowned valleys. Wonder and reverence permeate all, sharpened with intimate experience of nature's beauty and danger. With every painting one senses that Adkison not only vividly remembers, but summons from the depths of her being, numinous encounters with nature--what she calls the moment of "unexpected vision."Adkison is represented by the Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Gallery in Seattle.
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