Visual Art Review by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS
Jennifer Lauer’s Color and Light at All Sorts Gallery is a little gem of a show of still life and landscape painting in a classical modernist tradition. Lauer lays on lush layers of paint reminiscent of Wayne Thiebaud, with colors such as seen in Wolf Kahn’s fiery landscapes or in some instances like the color harmonies in a Pierre Bonnard, with compositions in some of the still life pictures that bring to mind abstracts by Richard Diebenkorn. Thiebaud, Kahn, Bonnard and Diebenkorn are masters of this type of painting. If Lauer is not a master equal to these painters, she is at the very least a painter who has learned her lessons well.
Lauer’s landscapes are simple with little detail and often little more than a field and sky, and something like a river, tree line or hillside along the horizon, with complementary colors that reverberate sometimes brilliantly and in places nuanced harmonies and contrasts of alternating warm and cool colors.
Her still life paintings tend to be slightly more complex in design with planes of flat colors interacting like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Her paint application ranges from thick, opaque impasto to the thinnest of translucent washes. In other words, she is a formalist with a love for color.
“Enough” pictures a simple jar on a yellow table. The background is a wash of gray-violet over a scumble of yellow. These are complementary colors that in this usage blend rather than contrast. The only contrast is provided by a strip of thick light blue on the edge of the jar.
Lauer’s juxtaposition of warm and cool colors, makes areas of color seem to advance toward the viewer or recede into the canvas — all very subtly. As in “When Your Heart is Full,” a picture of a jar with bright pink, red and orange flowers on a blue table. The background on one side advances forward, while it recedes on the other.
Among my favorite is “Thursday Afternoon,” a picture of a paint brush that has been immersed in a can of light pea-green paint and laid on a yellow-ochre table. The bristles of the brush line up with the table edge and with the bottom of a blue bowl that seems to teeter precariously on the edge of the table. The yellow of the table advances, while the brush seems to burrow into the table top.
Another favorite is “Dust Dream,” a landscape with slap-dash blobs of bright pink and blue at top and duller dusty rose and green at the bottom. This one is the most abstract painting in the show.
There are a few small, dark landscapes that feature tiny dots of light in what appear to be night scenes, such as in “Night on the Bay,” which is filled with mystery and wonder.
Lauer’s play of advancing and receding planes, along with her use of color contrasts and harmonies make her paintings more an investigation into the nature of color and composition than a depiction of objects, be they paint brushes, flowers, or trees in a landscape.
This is a small show, as are all shows at All Sorts, where the dining and living rooms of a private home are temporarily turned into an art gallery for a couple of weekends three or four times a year, and where the opening receptions feature great snacks and brilliant conversations. This is one that all local art lovers should see.
What: Jennifer Lauer: Color and Light
Where: Allsorts Gallery, 2306 Capitol Way S, Olympia
When: artist reception Feb. 3, 4-7 p.m.
Feb. 1,2, and 4, 5-7 p.m.
Feb 9-11, 5-7 p.m.
and by appointment
How much: free art show, paintings for sale