By Joseph Pratt
The Southern Ohio Museum is beginning the celebration of their 35th anniversary, and is doing so with “Alan Gough: The Intimate Landscape” in the Kricker Gallery and “Carol Snyder: Porcelain Perspectives” in the Richards Gallery. Both exhibitions focus on landscapes in the southern Ohio region and represent the past and present states of the area.
The idea of this year’s agenda is to plan around the concept of past, present and future.
“Anniversaries and birthdays are a great time to look into the past and where the future is headed. So, we are starting off with where we are in our region,” Artistic Director Charlotte Gordon said. “You know, southern Ohio is a very specific landscape. We are just north of the Appalachia cusp. We have our own visual flavor, flavor of people, music and have just a great region. It is also a region in the state of Ohio that is different from the rest; the hills you see here are even different from the ones you will find in northern Ohio. This is just a very unique setting.”
Alan Gough’s elegant and highly personal odes to southern Ohio will be on view in the museum’s Kricker Gallery from Feb. 15 through May 10. This comprehensive overview of Gough’s 50-plus year career includes some 75 paintings and drawings; it will be held in tandem with a smaller exhibition focusing upon Gough’s most recent work, to be shown at Columbus’ Keny Galleries, in April.
The focus of the Gough exhibit is his work in landscape painting. Gough has traveled and painting many places and these paintings can be found in the gallery, but the majority of his work is from the southern Ohio region, where he lives.
A major talking point that Gordon points out in Gough’s work is the depth that he paints into his landscapes. The artistic director went on to say that a lot of artists have complications finding the right color, shading and artistic method when trying to add distance correctly into work, but Gough does it masterfully.
Gordon also stated that when she and newly appointed Education Director Emily Uldrich were recently giving lessons to local Cub Scout Pack 14, they added in games of dimension, where the students had to “look” behind objects in the Gough paintings and guess what was behind them, based on contextual clues in the painting.
An interesting bonus to the gallery is the addition of Gough’s study paintings that he completes before he tackles the actual painting. Gough stated that the studies are something he was taught in art school, but the actual paintings are more his style. The studies are done onsite, so that he has reference to what he is painting when he is back in his studio.
“As you can perceive, the use of these paintings [the studies] led to more and more work done in the studio, where I could distil the paintings more upon reflection, after the onsite experience. So, once removed from the actual circumstances and whatever conditions were prevailing at that moment, since nature doesn’t stand still, I was compelled to put down things as quickly as I felt and observed them. Through the years I felt that I wanted to inject some of my reflections on a particular instant,” Gough said.
The Southern Ohio Museum is the first entity to hold the first ever retrospective show, where you follow Gough’s lifelong career of 50 years. Curator Sara Johnson has worked on piecing the show together and collecting the work through other museum galleries and private collections, some of the work even came from Gough’s private archives.
Columbus artist, Carol Snyder, works in porcelain for its unique qualities as a clay body. Its whiteness and translucency can give the sense of texture and patterning without the addition of glaze color. This more minimal approach to her work compels her to consider how light itself will convey the patterns and textures in each piece. Snyder’s pieces are wheel thrown and hand carved. She is influenced by nature and the surrounding landscape. Snyder’s exhibit will run from Feb. 15 to March 29.
“I am influenced by nature and the landscape around me,” Snyder says in her artist statement. “A vessel’s edge becomes the horizon line that can appear continuous or interrupted by the irregular tops of trees.”
Snyder has been involved in the Ohio art scene for a while, but is starting to emerge more and more since 2007, when she began being juried into galleries and winning competitions.
“Snyder is very visually in tune with landscapes, the elements of landscape and what makes it,” Gordon said. “The rhythm of trees, the density of the forest, tree lines dividing the sky from the Earth in a jagged line; she is really looking at it all. She pays attention to detail and visual elements like fields, cornstalks, bales of hay and then incorporates it into her porcelain.”
The first upcoming event in the museum’s calendar is a lecture from Executive Director Mark Chepp called “God’s Land: Landscape Painting in 19th Century America.” The lecture will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Southern Ohio Museum. Chepp will discuss how different American landscape painting is from European.
“European art was inspired by land that every square inch had been built on for centuries and when they got to America, they had wild expanses of land and it really changed their perspective of what landscape painting was. This made way for an entirely new genre of art and style,” Gordon said.
Some of the museum programming will address the issues of conflicting philosophies of “Did God put us here to use the land or did God put us here to tend the land?”
The museum’s next exhibition will be bringing back art that they’ve featured in the past 35 years. The selections are highlights from the many exhibits they’ve housed. They are in the process of tracking down the pieces now. Following that exhibit will be a look at the sky in “Sky High.” Gordon stated that the year will evolve from land to sky, which is to represent past and future.
The Southern Ohio Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday, and major holidays. They are at 825 Gallia St., and the 6th Street entrance offers handicapped parking and a wheelchair ramp. There is a voluntary donation of $2 for entry and $1 for seniors and students. More information on the museum can be found at the recently renovated website, www.somacc.com.
Information on Alan Gough can be found at www.kenygalleries.com and further information of Carol Snyder can be found at www.carolsnyder.artspan.com.
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times at 740-353-3101, EXT 287 or by Twitter @JosephPratt03