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Perhaps, seeing it the way it is.

September 23, 2013

Her name is Louise Medved and she has been living in Salida for the past twenty-one years. (I’m pirating Louise’s statement that accompanies her art show at the library. I loved reading it.)

This might be my favorite part: “At an early age I discovered how much I enjoyed expressing myself through art. Life’s highs and lows were easier to cope with and I gained insight into myself each time I picked up a paintbrush. Art has provided me with a quiet, peaceful way of living.”

The show is mostly work in a certain style she has been painting recently—which is to paint small areas at a time in watercolor leaving the white of the paper around each color.

At first glance, one might think Pointillist; at second glance, perhaps Divisionist; but I think Tessellationist is closest, not least because I made up the word.

The images are mosaic-like. Each patch is of a bright, clean color, and the white space around them is like mortar. The patches are small enough to lose track of them and see the whole image, and also large enough to lose the image and see only the pattern itself.

I like them. I couldn’t help but note that so many of the scenes were familiar to me. There’s a Maine lighthouse with exactly those rocks sloping into the sea. An Oregon waterfall (I’ve only been there twice, but it made an impression).

Monument Valley. The Tent Rocks in New Mexico, which I thought were remarkable. They (the rocks) made the most delightful landscape, both otherworldly and completely familiar and comforting.

There’s a painting of Grizzly Lake, which I assume is the one I know above Chalk Creek. It looks right, anyway, looking sufficiently mosquito-friendly. The summer I went there, we ran for a big snowfield to get away from darkening clouds of mosquitoes that rose up around us.

There’s a Santa Fe bench and a Colorado ranch, which looks like the Beckwith Ranch in the Wet Mountain Valley.

“Fall in Wisconsin” is very familiar, although not because I’ve been to Wisconsin. I’ve seen Autumn in Minnesota, as well as much of New England, and the season is deeply imprinted with enough emotions to constitute a mood.

All of these are eye-catching because the colors are clean. They are eye-engaging because you can feel the work in your optic neurology. If you gaze at a piece long enough, you might go back and forth, a bit like looking at an Escher tessellation.

Strictly speaking, Louise’s paintings are not Tessellationist, since they don’t use repeating patterns. They are mosaic-like, the patches equivalent to historical tesserae (diminutive: tessella)—which long ago were simply small pebbles approximating each other

A similar image can be seen looking at the hills around Tenderfoot or while walking the trails nearby. It’s all tinged a beautiful green right now, but get close and you discover it’s all made of kochia, an unfortunately successful noxious weed.

The hills are kochiallated. Trails that formerly crossed slopes of exquisite grasses are now swamped in kochia. It’s nightmarish, almost hallucinatory for seeing a fearsome thing multiplied everywhere.

But I digress. Louise’s images might be called hallucinatory, too, for the way they are constructed, for the way they appear and disappear. Perhaps they are a result of a quiet life, seeing the world differently—or, perhaps, seeing it the way it is.


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  1. Joanie Malone permalink

    Hi Jeff,
    This is so sensitively written, which is fitting. Louise is a lovely person who walks gently on the earth. In describing her work, you have captured her spirit as well. Thank you…..Joanie, the exhuberant one, from B’klyn!

  2. Joanie Malone permalink

    Sorry about the added “h” in exuberant! I pride myself on my spelling!

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