An ability to find joy by studying nature very closely, and sometimes at very close range, stands out vividly in shows of art work by Carol Beesley and John Wolfe at JRB Art at The Elms. Offering a tribute to the artistic skills, attention to craft, and broader, poetic appreciation of nature of the two gallery artists, the exhibits are on view through Oct. 28.
Rocks, pebbles and vegetation become almost jewel-like and a kind of microcosm in two relatively small oils by Beesley of Johnson Ranch in Guymon, and a third of a scene near Black Mesa.
The same fascination with a wash of pebbles and glowing, intricate, rich-hued rock formations, is found in a larger Beesley canvas, also called “Near Black Mesa, Oklahoma.” Even more expansive and panoramic is the large, sweeping view of rocky, multicolored hills under a flat blue sky in Australia's “Oz — Painted Desert.”
A dog or wolf supplies scale for an oil of New Mexico's “Bisti Wilderness,” while potted plants, though more mundane, are handled with the same sense of celebration by Beesley, in a second oil. Understated, yet atmospheric is a large oil which Beesley calls “Still Flow Heat Exchanger Abated Storm.”
This offbeat oil depicts blue spools and a screen that looks like an abstract painting in front of a nondescript building, under a deep blue, cloudy, potentially stormy sky. Beesley said the oils in her “At Home and Away” series are about “the jubilation I have experienced in these locations, which are very special and sacred to me.”
She is a professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma who returned to Norman from Santa Fe in 2007.
An Oklahoma City artist and former 30-year teacher in Midwest City-Del City schools, Wolfe is showing acrylic paintings of botanical subjects as well as three large outdoor welded steel sculptures.
Particularly rich-hued and inviting are two of his close-up aerial views of red Bromeliad blossoms, while there is something visually seductive about his acrylic of the sunlit leaves of a “Golden Chard” plant. Much more defensive and prickly are the subjects of Wolfe's deftly executed close-ups of “Prickly Pear” and “Agave” cactus plants.
Offering a striking contrast to Wolfe's acrylics are three large, yellowish-brown, rusty looking, welded steel sculptures of semiabstract figures — ranging from over seven to over nine feet tall — in front of the gallery.
The two shows are highly recommended during the rest of their run.
— John Brandenburg