Opens March 3rd
Runs through April 28th
Russell Horton, who is currently the painting instructor at Baker University in Baldwin City, recent works examines the landscape of the prairie and the Bottomlands along the Missouri River. Observation, photo reference, color studies and memory all play a role in his studio practice. As with earlier works, the landscapes are unpeopled allowing the viewer to contemplate the scene without distraction. There is a mood of profound solitude, of loneliness, in these places.
The impact of human activity is readily observed on the plains but people are fewer and further between. Pump jacks, holding tanks, water towers and other structures gain exaggerated prominence in the stark openness. The unspoiled vista of American landscape tradition no longer exists here. This is not a criticism of how the land is being used but rather a critique of nostalgic rhetoric of the pristine. The honest representation of the subject has allowed me to be honest with myself and establish an empathetic connection with structures isolated in the world around them.
The industrial street scenes are from a section of Kansas City, MO known as the West Bottoms. This is a dusty and dirty place and the color palette is purposefully muted and gray to reflect this place. The abstract nature of the architecture, shipping containers and concrete overpasses are a departure point for further exploration of a world that, viewed out a car window, quickly flashes by on the way to some aspect of our lives.