Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Alexa Kleinbard: Remedies

Night Blooming Ceres
Collection of Jill and Bob Harper

On April 19th, 2012, the Ogden Museum of Southern opened Remedies, an exhibition of shaped oil-on-panel paintings by Tallahassee artist, Alexa Kleinbard. A self-taught painter, Kleinbard has, for over thirty years, explored folk medicines, scientific advances, the environment and the unsettling role of humans in the balance of nature through her work. In this series of meticulously rendered and richly colored paintings, she has turned her focus to the wild medicinal plants of the Southeast and the endangered wetlands that sustain them. Sculptural portraits of these plants surround lush landscapes of their native environments, and seem to dance on gestural root systems.
Foxglove Digitalis

Informed by a background in sculpture and dance, Kleinbard has, over the past eight years, created a series of individual surfaces that move as if choreographed – a parade of medicinal plants in full bloom, involved in the act of creation. Each piece is an ecosystem of plant, pollinator, and wetland environment. Great filters of toxins, the wetlands heal the environment as they nurtures plants capable of healing humans.

Bloodlines: Pomegranate, Wild Rose, Evening Primrose and Ginger
But just as human expansion pushes native fauna into ever diminishing corridors of natural environment, the later Bloodlines paintings become filled with animals. These are not the calm pollinators involved in the act of creation as in the earlier works. Nests full of hatchlings and birds of prey are sounding the alarm that nature is under attack. The gestural roots are no longer dancing, but combined with depictions of Native American directional trees, point the viewer toward action.
Bloodlines: Passion Flower and Trumpet Vine

Alexa Kleinbard has been the recipient of several awards, including two NEA Endowment Grants and a Florida Fellowship Grant from the Florida Arts Council. She received her BFA in Sculpture from the Philadelphia College of Art, and received training in Dance from the Melia Davis School of Dance and the Ramblerny School of Performing Arts. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States. She lives and works with her husband, artist Jim Roche, in Tallahassee, Florida. In 2011, the Ogden Museum exhibited highlights from their collection of self-taught, outsider and visionary art.

Milk Thistle


Artist Statement:

Over the past twenty-two years, I have focused my work on what human beings must protect in the natural environment. As the fragmentation and division of wild lands all over the world escalates while ninety-six percent of all old-growth forest has fallen to the chain saw, I’ve been driven to work on paintings that hint at the potential silence that will be left in our remaining habitats if more and more species are lost forever, and man’s push toward more population and further stripping of nature’s resources is not somehow subdued.
Bind Weed
I hope to seduce the audience eye into healing views of faraway wetlands and aquatic serenity. As the thickened foliage, lushly painted with flowers and leaves of traditional healing plants, is pulled visually aside in a voyeuristic manner, a scene of natural glory and serenity is revealed. I try to offer a suggestive peek at what we must never lose. These shaped paintings are each a single character unto themselves; each one reads as a single medicinal plant, complete with dancing leg roots. Individual plant shapes have been cut from birch wood and feature leaves, blossoms, pods, fruits and insect pollinators, jaggedly silhouetted and painted with traditional oils. These healing plant cut-out shapes are a foreground through which the faraway horizon of water meeting sky is seen in deep space, carefully depicted with sunsets and reflections that imply hopeful and timeless beauty.
 This exhibition runs through July 22, 2012, and is located on the fourth floor of the Ogden's Goldring Hall.

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