The exhibited works of Jackie Battenfield and Julia Bloom in Branched were chosen to complement each other, to draw enticing visual and aesthetic parallels in distinctly different styles. Where Bloom's drawings and constructions cast literal shadows, Battenfield's paintings have an sleek, porcelain seeming surface with just a hint of impasto. Both artists, however, find inspiration in close observation of nature and produce compelling and accomplished works.
Jackie Battenfield's paintings in this exhibition begin on pristine Mylar and flow over the surfaces in graceful turns and with the dynamic punctuation of leaves. The ultra flat, surfaces and the sure hand with which she positions the compositions so that they hang suspended from the sides or tops of the paintings give a stylistic unity to a longstanding, now familiar body of work that unfolds in modern Eastern splendor. In the artist's words: "My fascination with branches and leaves originated from a week I spent at a rural meditation retreat in the 90's. Spring was slowly awakening the landscape from its winter bareness." These meditative, poetic works which focus on tree limbs and leaves are still, serene and deeply satisfying.
While Battenfield's work has a meditative, etherial quality to it, Julia Bloom's has a raw physicality, tempered by the paint she carefully applies to the collected twigs, sticks and branches. Rough though they are, in no way are these assemblages unsophisticated. In fact the complexity of their construction is evident even in the smallest works. By binding and bending small pieces of wood, the artist achieves a figurative grace, capturing a pose or forming a scaffolding. Turning a classic sculptural tradition around, she has boldly and skillfully made the armature the art. Her playful use of shadow drawings adds to the installation and gives an added dimension. Both artists have impressive credits to their names. Battenfield's book, "The Artist's Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love" and her long resume of national and international exhibits and lectures and her inclusion in more than 500 collections has taken her all over the United States and through Japan. Bloom is also an accomplished artist. Her work is in private, corporate and university collections as well as part of the Art in Embassies program. She has had several ambitious installations, both indoors and outdoors. Her many years of exhibiting nationally speak to more than twenty five years of artistic questing.
"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky."
- Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam