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The Landscape

The Landscape

Classical to Modern

FEATURING:  Martha Mans, Kurt Meer Stephen Pentak and Pauline Ziegen


SANTA FE, NM.  Artists are continually looking for new ways of perceiving, interpreting, and translating the reality of nature into the language of art. Karan Ruhlen Gallery will feature the work of four accomplished artists with varying approaches to painting the landscape and exploring the beauty of nature in painting.


Martha Mans has lived in New Mexico and Colorado where the weather and seasonal conditions create dramatic and changing effects on the mountains, valleys and mesas. She has traveled extensively in Italy and France immersing herself in the culture. “The most familiar of landmarks, wherever you are, take on different elements that can be fleeting and you only see that one time. It’s fun to discover these moments and use them as inspiration for my paintings,” says Mans. 

Mans will also be the gallery’s featured artist for the “Seventh Annual Historic Canyon Road Paint Out” on October 17th from 10 to 3 pm. Over 100 artists will participate in this not-to-be missed outdoor event on historic Canyon Road


Tennessee artist Kurt Meer was profoundly affected by the theories of Whistler. “I have adopted Whistler’s comparison of painting to music,” he says. “Color is like a keyboard where there is a root key or color harmony within which there are a variety of chords created by playing opposites against one another, such as warm and cool, saturated and unsaturated.”  Whistler found one means of expressing his theories in a series of works depicting the river Thames at night. For Meer, the Mississippi river is the inspiration. “I’ve come to know its subtleties, and while the rivers in my paintings are imaginary abstractions of water, sky and vegetation shapes, they undoubtedly go back to my memory of the Mississippi.”


New York artist Stephen Pentak’s subject is the great outdoors. His method: a tried-and-true combination of oil paints, wood panel, large brushes and palette knives. He works from his mind’s eye, pulling from memory the landscapes he has seen. The creation and combination of color plays a major role in his work.

Pentak’s serene landscapes radiate an inner light. Surfaces are built up of many thin layers of oil paint, pulled and crosshatched, one over another. Brighter under-layers gleam through shadowy upper layers, acting as the sun on the horizon, gliding over the edges of trees, lakes and mountains, on its way to the other side of the earth. The backgrounds are panoramic, while the foregrounds are dotted by sparse collections of trees…often birches, with their white bark formed by the delicate lines of individual bristles.

Pentak is informed by his surroundings but holds fast to his freedom to create and invent space.

Pauline Ziegen’s earliest landscape paintings were painted outdoors in Kansas where vast stretches of prairie lead to distant horizons. Representing the unique dichotomy of where the earth seems to meet the sky or the apparent boundary between earth and sky, the horizon is, she says, “an ever-shifting location that you can never reach, yet it is always compelling.” At the time, Ziegen’s landscapes were representational; however, she has been “editing” ever since, creating suggestive abstractions inspired by the landscapes she views from a ridge-top home and studio on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. “...abstraction is all about editing and simplifying the visual world into formal elements that become metaphors of emotion,” says Ziegen.