Prairies meet mountains and skies in new exhibition
That point of land where the prairies, mountains and sky meet is a remarkable and unique landscape and in his current body of work, Michigan painter and professor emeritus Chris Stoffel Overvoorde continues to explore that edge.
Edge of the Prairie, featuring Overvoorde’s newest oil paintings and graphite sketches produced during a current residency at the Gushul Studio in Blairmore, opens at Willock & Sax Saturday (Aug. 25) with a reception from 2-5 p.m.
In his artist’s statement, Overvoorde says he sees landscape painting as a special way to explore nature.
“To stand or sit in a landscape is an experience we cannot always express in words. The inability to say it in words has led me to painting. The process of painting allows me to understand that special moment in a new way.
“Painting is a way of knowing, of exploring, a new way of seeing what at first was ordinary and commonplace. To reach beyond the appearance of the physical and search for the invisible elements of nature has been my challenge,” Overvoorde wrote.
Overvoorde, whose work hangs in the White House in Washington, D.C., has returned to the Gushul Studio many times, drawn by a place that has become a source of inspiration and mediation.
“The sky has always been important to me as a landscape painter, so too the special light of the sky has played an important role in my work. The cloud formations are almost unbelievable as they form against the dome of the sky; sometimes they are sculpted by the winds coming off the mountains. Light and space play with each other here. Light for me is also symbolic, for it reminds me of God the creator who is still at work in His creation. To be able to respond visually is a gift and seeing the show is sharing of that gift.”
Gallery owner Susan Sax-Willock said over the years Overvoorde has decreased the amount of land he shows in his landscapes and increased the sky.
“We do have big skies here and it offers him the opportunity to explore light through the sky,” she said, adding that exploration keeps him eager and excited and, as a result, producing remarkable work, Sax-Willock said.
“He really is full of energy and enthusiasm and I think that stems from his religious leanings, his Christianity, in that respect. He is what it should be. A sense of wonderment and all encompassing involvement in embracing what the world is as opposed to trying to put into a straight-laced image. I think that shows through in his work. He really looks at it with awe and tries to paint it.”
Overvoorde is also unique in that rather than putting a high price to all of his work, he seeks to keep his smaller paintings and graphite sketches at a reasonable price so his work is accessible to a larger range of art-lovers.
“He is interested in people having access to the work. He really was interested in having people have an original piece in their home,” Sax-Willock said.
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