An insider’s view of the outside

The "Outside of Walls" exhibit features landscapes from two artists.

By Angie Andera | Oct. 22, 2010

Tags: Community Visual art

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Columbia's Davis Art Gallery will host the "Outside of Walls" art show Friday through Dec. 10. The exhibit features the landscape paintings of Douglass Freed and John Louder, which attempt to break down the walls that restrain people from taking a closer look at the outside world.

Each artist uses a different approach to depict his landscapes.

"John Louder and I have two completely different approaches to landscape art," Freed said. "Mine is totally devoid of surface, and his is all about surface."

Freed's distilled, minimalistic approach opens up new ways for people to view the natural world.

"I negate surface and try to eliminate any marks," Freed said. "I want that surface to be a void where you can fall into the atmosphere of the painting."

Freed accomplishes this technique through a comprehensive process involving cutting his own stretchers, sanding them, stretching the canvas, drawing the image and finally painting it. Despite the hard work, this creative process is what Freed enjoys most.

"I love working on it, planning it," Freed said. "It's just my passion, my bliss, working in the studio. It's almost a meditative experience when you're painting."

Despite Freed's minimalistic landscapes, there still exists a complex facet to his work. His landscapes generally consist of one main canvas extended by one or two adjoining panels depicting a different time of day or season.

"(The panels) are about light, time and atmosphere," Freed said. "There's a kind of intellectual quality because of the panels and the different kinds of light or times of day depicted. There's a kind of ambiguity that sucks people in."

Freed is not the only one who values ambiguity and its effect on what the audience can learn and feel from his artwork. Louder said he wants his viewers to form their own interpretations.

"I want people to get excited about their own lives through my art," Louder said.

Louder, like Freed, strives to get people to take a closer look at the natural world. But his approach to landscapes differs significantly. The majority of his paintings featured in the exhibit deal with a duality between wordplay and illusion in addition to the landscape aspect.

Louder's fish paintings feature colors with names also used to identify species of fish, such as "Titanium White Bass." Louder juxtaposes these beautiful landscapes with the toxic paint pigments.

"It's this whole idea of painting beautiful landscapes with chemicals we wouldn't want to be in the water," Louder said. "I guess there's a little irony. It's a play on words, a play on illusion."

In the end, Louder simply paints what he feels.

"I'm driven to paint because I really need to do that, and it really grounds me and helps me to stay connected to the planet," Louder said.

Both Freed and Louder hope their landscapes challenge those who attend the art show to look more closely at the world from a new viewpoint.

"Landscape is probably the most accessible genre of painting there is," Freed said. "And when there are people out in the world that respond to and appreciate what you're doing, it's a very, very rewarding thing."

Regardless of style, Freed and Louder's shared appreciation for the natural world radiates vividly from their canvases.

"The best artists paint authentically about what's most interesting to them," Louder said. "That's what makes art believable."

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