COVERLooking at modern and contemporary works of art can be complicated. With so many styles, so many approaches to form and themes, so many mediums and mixed media, there is not a singular way to look at works of art, but a myriad of ways. We can pause at the complexity of a modern painter like Georges Braque and gather the pictorial parts to create a whole. In post-modern art, we can decipher incongruent images to create new meaning, or we can visually speed across a contemporary minimal surface where immediacy and even branding is a popular approach to creating works of art.

Gallery 208 at the offices of Up & Coming Weekly decided to host a one-woman exhibition by an artist who focuses on a particular type of immediacy in her paintings. The public is invited to meet the artist during the opening reception of Light and Time: Paintings by Rose Kennedy on July 12, 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. The artist, Rose Kennedy, is more connected to the modern impressionist style, popular since the late 1880s, but in a contemporary Southern landscape context. 

There is a complexity to the Kennedys’ work, but visitors to the exhibit will not be bogged down by the theoretical. Instead, form and content are intertwined into a visual experience of light, color and a sense of place.  Where many people feel alienated from contemporary art, people will feel immediately connected to Kennedy’s keen interpretation and observation of the Carolina landscape. 

As stated by Kennedy, her goal is “to draw the viewer into the moment, eliciting the emotional response of a particular point in time, whether it is the serenity from the warm glow of morning, or the sparkling playfulness of light and shadow as the day transitions into evening.” My response to Kennedy’s work is similar to how theorist Laurie Fendrich defends abstract art: “… not a vehicle for social or political change….it enables us to be quiet… it offers a counter to the glut of things…often is quite simply beautiful.” 

I have followed Kennedy’s art work for many years and knew her mostly by her pastel paintings. But of late, she has undertaken the plein air (French for in the “open air”) painting approach as she paints quickly and directly from observation. In her direct observation of a landscape, Kennedy is “on-site” and has to capture the light during that specific window of time. Qualities of light, direct sunlight or overcast, the artist has to understand the light through color and the painted mark. 

A task that is not easy, an artist has to be organized and practiced to paint on-site. A challenge, since the light and environment changes, the artist’s efforts result in capturing a spontaneity and freshness. To learn this skill Kennedy noted she “has attended numerous workshops with nationally-renowned artists. Then I took the techniques I learned from these experiences and developed my own personal and recognizable style of painting. My paintings are vibrant and intriguing, reflecting nature as I see it. “

Kennedy’s works are included in both private and corporate collections, and she is a featured artist in the publication Painting North Carolina, A Visual Journey. Memberships and affiliations include the Southeastern Pastel Society, Piedmont Pastel Society, Oil Painters of America and Women Painters of the Southeast. Kennedy works from her home studio, but she is also an exhibiting member at Cape Fear Studios in Fayetteville, N.C., maintaining a working studio space there. Before opening at Gallery 208, Kennedy opened a one-woman exhibit at the Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Visitors to Gallery 208 are going to enjoy the colorful and inspiring beauty in Light and Time: Paintings by Rose Kennedy. The paintings are evidence that the pursuits of early modernist Impressionistic art is still with us in the post-modern period. Be prepared to see works by a painter who is not afraid to use expressive color and demonstrates ways to use color and light to unify a painting instead of modeling a form with light and shade. 

Like the classical Impressionists, Kennedy does not necessarily depend on realistic depictions; instead she captures the immediacy of a moment, a place, and the optical effects of light as she has interprets it through loose brushwork. Her years of working with a heightened color palette has resulted in paintings that have the quality of luminance. In her luminance, we do not perceive the edges of objects or the landscape; instead, ambiguous forms shift to become recognizable in their unity. 

The public is invited to the opening reception of Light and Time: Paintings by Rose Kennedy on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 between 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Gallery 208 located at 208 Rowan Street, the home of Up & Coming Weekly. If you cannot attend the opening, the exhibit will remain at Gallery 208 until mid-September. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information call Up & Coming Weekly at 484-6200.

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