As part of a spontaneous outing with my friend Judy, we stopped by the Opening Night Framing Services & Gallery for the artists’ talk on “Nature: Hints of a New World,” an exhibit featuring the works of Hazel Belvo and Marcia Casey Cushmore. Who knew we had happened upon such a momentous occasion! The exhibit was not only a grand representation of the women’s travels all over the country and world, but also the very last show to grace the walls of Opening Night—its owner is retiring and closing the business’s doors after forty-four years. Yes, we stepped into something very special.
It’s apparent that both Casey Cushmore and Belvo revel in the gift of color. Their works range from painterly renditions of bold and bright flower gardens, to gnarled and textured trees, to modular landscapes, to all-out abstracts. I loved every single piece in the exhibit—and even more so after learning more about the artists and their perspectives on art, life, and our precious natural surroundings.
Marcia Casey Cushmore
Casey Cushmore’s portion of the talk was a tribute to the beauty and necessity of trees. She helped us consider how trees not only sustain our lives, but also serve as our best examples of community as it should be. Life-giving. Sheltering. Concerned about the wounded. Trees embody these positive qualities, and we humans can pay homage to trees—and, in all likelihood, save the world—by reflecting this kind of beauty ourselves.
My favorite works by Casey Cushmore were of trees painted with incredible texture. On closer inspection, the paintings were composed of small shapes and splotches of various colors, some of which were outlined with darker hues. My takeaway? I would love to try this technique using knitted items as my subject matter.
Belvo continued the conversation with musings on the “Spirit Tree;” it’s located among the forests of Minnesota’s North Shore and has inspired much of Belvo’s work. Along with Cushmore, she recommended The Overstory: A Novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning and tree-inspired book by Richard Powers. Belvo showed off a delightful hand-drawn accordion journal showing the progression of seeds to sprouts to seedlings to full-out trees—her tribute to The Overstory.
I obviously have another book to read. In addition, I was intrigued by Belvo’s triptychs, each made up of one abstract landscape paired with two complementary paintings showing the detail of tree rings or another related pattern or texture. I’ve added a similar triptych to my list of assignments
What a treat to be in the presence of both of these women—through my meeting them and seeing their art, it was apparent they bear timeless talent and big hearts for the future of humanity and the system of which we are a part. Theirs is a noble pursuit indeed.
p.s. Hear from the ladies yourself! Listen to Ampers interview>>