Contemporary Impressionism

Contemporary Impressionism


contemporary impressionism: the missouri valley impressionist society

From August - September 2020, Southwind is hosting the Missouri Valley Impressionist Society's 9th Annual Juried exhibit. There were more than 50 works selected for the show, and the juror this year is plein air painter and Kansas artist Kim Casebeer.

Impressionism is only direct sensation. All great painters were more or less impressionists.

– Claude Monet

The Missouri Valley Impressionist Society defines Impressionism as a movement built upon the Realists' celebration of everyday modern life and created in direct observation of reality. Impressionism seeks to capture an "impression" of fleeting life, and it often involves saturated color and looser, more spontaneous brushwork to do so. The original impressionists were fascinated with direct observation of nature and reality. Many devoted their time to working outdoors, creating the bulk of their work en plein air. While many of the original impressionists were more concerned with capturing  the effect of ever-changing light and color upon objects than they were with representing artists themselves, contemporary impressionists have taken elements of the traditional style while pursuing their own concepts.

The original focus on capturing an "impression" rather than a more realistic reality has lead to one of the most popular art movements of all time.

The MVIS was founded to showcase great works by contemporary impressionists, but their society is also open to other styles. As they say on their webpage, "Impressionism was built upon the Realists' celebration of everyday modern life and art rooted in direct observation of "reality." The society is open to artists living in the Missouri River Valley area, which spans nine states. This year's participating members show in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, or Missouri.

Since the society spans such a large region, their annual exhibit contains an incredible variety of work. There are more than two dozen artists in the show, including painters who specialize in pastel, oil, watercolor, and acrylic paintings of the highest quality. A beautiful variety of subject matter is also represented in the show. The 9th annual exhibit features landscapes and architecture, portraits of animals, and studies of people and still life.

Awards have yet to be announced for the show, so for now here are some unofficial "honorable mentions."

"Turned" by Johne Richardson

There is something absolutely spectacular about this piece by Johne Richardson. At first glance, the piece appears highly realistic. Yet, the contrast and harmony between the pink, blue, and yellow in the clouds along with every element of the piece is defined by thick, spontaneous brush strokes and a mix of saturated color opposites like red and green. Using such polarizing colors, Johne paints a scene that's incredibly radiant and full of movement.

"Radiating Velvate" by Vic Mastis

Pastel artist Vic Mastis has three pastels with floral themes as part of MVIS. Described simply by the artist as "Velvety purple flowers with light glowing behind them," this piece is a great example of the kind of joy found in Vic's pastels. In each of her works, Vic has taken simple floral arrangements and given them a more permanent life on paper. Her technique is simple but well-executed, using the textured pastels to describe delicate flowers in a series of loose strokes. By working gesturally, the flowers seem to dance energetically across the image and give additional life to each work.

"Side Chapel at Notre Dame de Vie" by Elaine Haake

From the artist: "Notre Dame de Vie is in the beautiful French village of Venasque, France. Painting this during the recent quarantine brought me peace amid the uncertainty. I even 'lit' a candle in the corner alcove for all the victims of the pandemic and those who were impacted."

"Side Chapel at Notre Dame de Vie" is a beautiful, yet somber painting. The artist has captured the gentle architecture and lighting within the cathedral using traditional oil painting techniques. The style and subject matter both lend a very classical feel to the painting, and the concept makes it all the more meaningful.

"Omaha Prime" by Katrina Methot-Swanson

Another example of some of the fantastic architecture paintings in the show, Katrina Methot-Swanson works in an extremely realistic style. Utilizing straight lines, accurate colors, and nearly invisible brush strokes, the artist has depicted three scenes from downtown Omaha in this year's MVIS exhibit. Difficult items, such as the circular rail decorations are rendered with precision as they change in both value and perspective on the fence. Reflections are handled carefully, as well detailed signage and other patterned elements. In person, these pieces are strikingly realistic and separate themselves from the wall on lovely gallery wrapped canvas.

"Cooling Down" by Andrea Orr Clague

At first glance, this is a highly realistic painting of a young boy playing in a backyard kids pool. The sun seems to shine off his hair while cool shade crosses the water. Yet this painting is strongly rooted in the impressionist tradition. Interactions between light and shadow fascinated the original impressionists, who avidly worked from life to capture fleeting moments and lighting situations quickly before they passed. Artist Andrea Orr Clague continues this tradition by rendering light and shadow based upon careful observation.  

MVIS Participating Artists:

Michael Albrechtsen, Randall Bennett, Cris Chapin, Karen Cooper, Lee Copen, Doug Frye, Elaine Haake, Cathy Kline, Marla Luttrell, Vic Mastis, Spencer Meagher, Katrina Methot-Swanson, Rachel Mindrup, Brent O'Connor, Andrea Orr Clague, Christi Patterson, Johne Richardson, Susan Rose, Carol Rubsam, Brent Seevers, Richard Sneary, Cathie Thompson, Cody Wheelock, Vesal Yaghoobi, and Darla Zook.

To learn more about the art and artists in the showcase, click the buttons below to visit the full online exhibit!

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