Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Dreamscapes,” a two-person exhibition of landscapes by Mary Armstrong and Phillip Adams. Her third show with Cross MacKenzie, Armstrong’s ethereal landscapes explore the symbiotic relationship between the earth and its atmosphere, evoking both a sense of serenity and turmoil in nature. Adams, too, builds a dialectic within his landscapes, but his is a playful imagining of constructions projected onto the stark quietude of the powerful mountains.
Armstrong’s abstract interpretations of a landscape and views of a distant horizon are informed by 19th century painting approaches. Yet the artist’s method of scraping through luscious wax and oils on panel in order to reveal hyped-up colors from underneath, lend her work a decidedly contemporary vibe. Armstrong’s fascination and deep appreciation for the world outside her studio has led her to translate both the physical and metaphysical elements of nature with a certain type of reverence, hovering in between the earthly and the airy worlds. Her veneration of the beauty and power of the natural landscape is evident in the noticeable lack of man’s encroachment onto the vistas, save for the technology implicit in the aerial vantage points. Mary Armstrong, an established artist and professor at Boston College, has been teaching painting since 1989, and has since been featured in dozens of exhibitions and lauded with multiple awards.
Adams’s sublime charcoal landscapes of the Matterhorn conjure up the bleak rock and snow topography of the mountain, onto which he places a touch of colorful humor using oils. The juxtaposition of medium heightens the imaginative absurdity of the scene, with intoxicatingly bright fantasies constructed upon the monotone of rock outcroppings. His works straddle the line between landscape and dreamscape, drawing the viewer into the realm of what could be, rather than what must be. These surrealist visions prompt discussions into the arrogance of controlling one’s environment, questioning whether it is truly necessary to impose on the timeless beauty of nature to accommodate our temporary whims. New to Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Phillip Adams received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked for over a decade as a muralist, both nationally and internationally.