The Re Institute is pleased to present landscapes from two very different points of view: Joshua Rosenblatt of Astoria, Queens, and Scott Culbreth of northern Duchess County.
One artist's vision is a visceral portrayal of the act of waiting for your kids as you pick them up, looking out the car window at the bleak but captivating patterns of an urban street scene.
The other is a contemplation of light on forests, fields, the sky, in different seasons and at different times of day. The imprint of humans and their impact is felt in relief, as furrows in a field or a freshly mown meadow.
The contrasts are high. Both artists are looking deeply and without irony.
I make patterns out of my surroundings, taking them from nature or from human-made constructions. Once translated onto paper, they become a rhythmic assemblage of patterns, reflecting both physical space and the passage of time.
Patterns can be represented as surface treatment (the redundancy of strokes and markings) or as patterns found in time (the passage of time on fences, leaves, branches, windows in buildings, the surfaces of buildings themselves). They can be found in people too, as they move through their surroundings, repeating steps and actions out of habit.
To rework a drawing over many sittings, I don’t try to recreate the essence of the draft done at the first sitting. Instead, I layer my drawings with a new day/time in the same drawing. The thematic use of apartment interiors, car interiors/exteriors, parking lots, parks and trees, and the effect of light and rain on all of them, provides a window into the layers of urban life and nature as they meet and mix.
In the panoramic drawings, time passes in the pictures as the eye wanders across them. The weather changes from rain to clear, or a person moves around and repositions himself or herself in different parts of the interior. The resulting image is a span of time, not a moment in time.
The landscape is a primary source of inspiration for me. It is accessible, beautiful and enjoyably varied. The topography, defined by light, is a cornucopia of textures, colors and depth that offer a constant stimulus.
The strongest memories I have of my early youth consist of exploring the terrain surrounding our home. On these frequent excursions I’d collude with Indian scouts, ambush Redcoat detachments, view the spouts of whales from the tops of comfortable conifers swaying in the wind. Days of inclement weather would bring me into the house and to the crawlspace off the bedroom I shared with my brother. I could, with paper and pencil or crayon, continue the escapades that had begun outside. Soon I found that I could record — with a fair amount of fidelity — objects or situations, real or imagined. Gradually my eyes and hand took on a greater significance for me. This facility has remained an important part of my life.
Like a monk chanting or transcribing a text, recording visual phenomena becomes an act of devotion or appreciation. I strive to record a specific place and time. A successful product of this exercise is reassurance, security and, I hope, the progression of a creative endeavor.