PalisadesExhibition | Melissa Brown By Ryan Steadman
Paintings off the beaten path.
In her first solo show at Kansas, Melissa Brown captures the history of one of our area's rare geological enclaves through paintings that are as melancholy and fanciful as they are transcendental. This exhibition is a meditation on the Palisades, a wooded cliff off the west side of the Hudson River that found protection as a state park in the late 19th century after years of industrial pollution.
Brown manages to capture the conflicted nature of this area through the idea of Pareidolia: the method by which the brain looks for imagery - particularly human - in randomness. By personifying natural elements, she follows an artistic tradition that extends from visionary landscape painters like Charles Burchfield to surreal comic book artists like Basil Wolverton.
Her landscapes seem caught in a time-loop as luminous washes, tightly-crafted gradients and nimble brush marks convey a land of hinted-at-histories and future premonitions. Curmudgeonly trees and rocks re-emerge as you wander from painting to painting, while hints of city life twinkle in the distance. You're left with the feeling that human intervention and the natural world are neither friends nor enemies but part of the stew that is our ever evolving planet.