Current Exhibition

Abstracting From Nature  | May 4 - July 27, 2014

"There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.” -- Pablo Picasso 

Since opening in the fall of 2011, the Sturt Haaga Gallery has presented exhibitions inspired by ideas we find every day in the garden — the nature of a landscape; the beauty of botanical forms observed closely; the uses of wood; flower real and flowers imaginary. In three shows a year, the artwork exhibited in the gallery challenges us to see — and think about — the nature all around us in new ways and from different perspectives. 

The exhibition Abstracting From Nature presents artists whose subject matter begins with nature but, through a rigorous process of artistic choice, reduction and focus transforms the natural and everyday into the abstract and mysterious. For a very long time in the history of art, the purpose of a painting was to create an illusion. The “pictorial space” of a painting functioned something like a window with the viewer on one side and the subject — a person, a landscape, a religious scene — on the other. The painting was a picture of something, and the more realistic and accurate the picture was, the greater the acclaim. Toward the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, artists began to express themselves differently. They painted their impressions of things. They expressed their imaginations about what they were seeing. They began to move away from the pictorial and toward the abstract and the conceptual. 

In the history of the art of the 20th century, “abstract art” was an important movement that incited much public attention during the 1950s and 60s. And, in terms of public reception, opinions were sharp and polarized: You either loved it or you hated it and there wasn’t much common ground in between. What the artists were doing was searching for the essence of things and then depicting their discoveries in the language of art-making: form, line, color, contrast, medium, dimension, material. Sometimes, they zoomed in on a tiny detail, magnifying it until it became unrecognizable. Other artists pushed the boundaries of pure color, including black and white. Still others looked at small things from very far away, reducing the specific to a field or pattern. 

What was once “revolutionary” is now firmly entrenched not only in the history of art but also in contemporary practice and dialogue, and we will be seeing the work of some leading contemporary California artists, whose search for artistic truth and timelessness has taken them on a journey that begins with nature and ends in works of art that seek to get at the essence of things and inspire us to do the same.

Featured artists include:

Katy Crowe Ann Diener
Robbert Flick Edith Hillinger
Susan Joseph Joan Kahn
Robin Mitchell Susan Rankaitis
Roxene Rockwell Seiko Tachibana
Meeson Pae Yang





above: 'Spidermap' by Katy Crowe

left: 'Ikebana' by Robin Mitchell