New Feature Exhibition in October September 17 2020

River Tapestries

October 3-31, 2020
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 3, 4-7 PM
Artist Talk: Friday, October 23, 11 AM

 About the Exhibition

River Tapestries is Karlene McConnell’s second solo exhibition at Arts on Douglas. For this display of new work, she explores her memories and perceptions of the natural world through a collection of colorful, gestural paintings. McConnell spent a lot of time in nature as a child, explaining, “I was raised in the South and remember experiencing the warm, red clay of the Alabama riverbeds and the expansive green marshes of Florida. When I was a young girl, my family vacationed in New England, where I also enjoyed the refreshing breezes along Maine’s coast and the brisk cool blues and grays of the Berkshire Hills. I eventually found my home along the Tomoka River in Florida. While working on this exhibition, all of these organic experiences manifested in my art.”
While many influences come together in McConnell’s work, this series is largely inspired by her close proximity to the river.  Time spent hiking and kayaking has provided her with real-life references and inspiration. She states, “Working on these paintings has grounded me. This work brings me back home by serving as a reminder that I can find inspiration anywhere, even in my own backyard.” 
In these paintings, McConnell uses shapes and lines to mimic organic forms found in nature.  She plays with positive and negative space and layers of paint to build up a sense of atmosphere on a flat plane. Her work is also fueled by bursts of color.  While not true to life, her palette creates a conversation between cool and warm tones and serves to energize her compositions.
As the exhibition title suggests, McConnell also compares the landscape to a woven tapestry. In many of her pieces, she incorporates thread-like lines or blanket forms as a symbolic gesture.
As a whole, McConnell is less concerned with sharing an accurate representation of the landscape but rather, places her emphasis on sharing her impressions.  Fran Gardner, Professor of Art and Art History at the University of South Carolina Lancaster, elaborates that McConnell’s paintings “are experiences, not descriptions, of places she comprehends on a deep and sensitive level.  McConnell’s spaces are ethereal (what sublime rhythms!). Not quite landscapes and not quite non-objective.”
While working on this body of work, McConnell was inspired to write poetry that reverberates the moods and sentiments that come across in her paintings.  Lines from her poems were incorporated into the titles of her work in this exhibition.  
About the Artist
Karlene McConnell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education from the University of Central Florida in 1983. She is a former Special Education Art teacher and Museum Curator. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows from New England to the Miami art fairs. Her art is included in several corporate and private collections including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NY, and the permanent Lemerand Collection at Daytona State College, FL.