Feature Dates: April 1 – June 26, 2021
On view at River Arts on Water Gallery (590 Water St, Prairie du Sac, WI) and online
Reception TBD, stay tuned!
River Arts is pleased to feature one of our artists, Luann Roberts Smith, as well as welcome guest artist Letha Kelsey. Luann is a mixed media specialist, working with found objects to create jewelry, mosaics, and sculptures. Letha works primarily in drawing and painting, interpreting her experiences in travel and domesticity as abstract forms. On view for a limited time only!
Letha Kelsey Artist Statement: FAR / NEAR
As an artist, I investigate how sensory phenomena and immediate surroundings translate into visual language. Paintings and drawings from the last decade have developed from two events: an experience of being away and the experience of returning home.
Supported by a 2010 University of Wisconsin Summer Research Grant, I hiked across Wisconsin—from Potawatomie State Park to Lodi—via the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The paintings and drawings from this series convey the collective sensory experience of slowly moving through the landscape over the course of 37 days. This body of work is the On Foot
Following the births of my sons in 2013 and 2014, I returned focus to immediate surroundings, making paintings and drawings that investigate play, original impulse, and repetitions of the domestic realm. Daily acts, exchanges, and everyday fragments inform these new works. The paintings and collages here represent a return to what is most simply, close by. This body of work is the Homing series.
Selected works from the On Foot and Homing series are included in this exhibition. It is my hope that viewing them together may elicit fresh contemplation of the everyday, both far and near.
Luann Roberts Smith Artist Statement
A child of creative parents, I was taught to sketch by my mom at an early age, spent time scavenging the neighborhood with my brother for wood and wheels to build go-carts in Dad’s workshop, and got to paint still life in oils with my Aunt Helen when she visited. My childhood was filled with crayons and paper and art supplies, hammers and nails and hunting for treasures and thinking up new things to make. I still enjoy treasure-hunting, and my repurposed jewelry was inspired by vintage pieces that were part of a growing stash.
Over the years I have gained an appreciation for abstract art, but for a painter with very traditional training it was a challenge to turn off the detail and the need to make everything look like something. I began to experiment with picassiette—a form of mosaic which uses found objects and broken crockery, which was very different from previous work and greatly stretched my creativity. Pieces of glass and china and found objects do not lend themselves to realism, and mosaic became a wonderful bridge which led to more experimentation with recycled glass and incorporating encaustic. I discovered that the goal was to learn to play and not work so hard at creating.
Mosaic was the happy medium… and now, after several years of attending workshops, I am beginning to really enjoy painting abstract as well.
There are so many possibilities and discoveries, and I choose not to settle on any one medium just yet. I now describe my work as In Process as I continue to experiment and try new things. I invite you into the journey!