Donald Saaf - Robinosn Crusoe and his Animals - 2011 36 x 40 inches Acrylic, collaged paper and textiles on panel
From September 6th through October 2nd, the gallery will host con-current solo exhibitions of Alex MacLean’s aerial photographs and Donald Saaf’s spirited paintings of whimsical figures and landscapes. Despite the differences in each artist’s media and technical practice, each values the role of form, composition, and color to convey interpretations of the natural landscape and the ways in which it is both valued and manipulated. All are invited to join the artists for a reception on Saturday, September 10th from 4-6pm.
Alex MacLean’s aerial photographs explore the interplay between natural and constructed environments. Focusing on images MacLean has made along water sources including the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and various rivers and water tributaries, the featured photographs convey the prevalent manipulation of population growth, cultural recreation, and climate change on the natural landscape. Water is seen organized into neat coils of canals in a Houston cul-de-sac while sand has overcome a seaside parking lot, creating abstract patterns of the lot’s painted lines. Garish water-park slides and pools are offset by the muted colors of time worn dinghies on a New England dock. Line serves an important role to MacLean’s compositions as color, texture, and pattern develop each composition.
Alex MacLean earned a BA from Harvard College and a Masters in Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He has won numerous awards including the 2009 CORINE International Book Award, the American Academy of Rome’s Prix de Rome in Landscape Architecture for 2003-2004, and grants from foundations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and Graham Foundation. MacLean is the author of seven books including OVER: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point (2008) and Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air (2003). MacLean lives and maintains a studio in Lincoln, MA.
The landscapes and figures in Donald Saaf’s paintings are inspired, in many ways, by his own life and family. Working in oil, gouache, and collage, Saaf’s work features vibrant colors and a web of compositionally inherent lines and forms, such as those found in a stained glass window or quilted textile. The curious, simple surroundings in which his painted figures play music, read books, or sail in boats transform these seemingly familiar practices and pastimes into compelling expressions surrounding themes of family, community, environment, and mortality. Saaf celebrates nature but explores the vulnerability of the viewer’s relationship to the land, expressing a poignancy that reaches beyond the whimsical patterns and tones of the compositions.
Donald Saaf is a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and has been showing nationally for twenty years. In addition to being an important American painter, Saaf is the author of numerous award-winning children’s books, performs on a variety of instruments with the Little Hope String Band, and formed The Bluebird Theater, a marionette and puppet troupe, with his wife, painter Julia Zanes, and their children. Saaf lives and works in Vermont.