Kathleen Menges at the Kariton

Mid Day, Kathleen Menges, 24×12 inches, cold wax on panel

It was as my friend Dody and I were coming home that we clued into Kathleen Menges’ exhibition at the Kariton Art Gallery in  Abbotsford. It was a day neither sunny nor rainy, a thick cloud cover had settled over the Fraser Valley bringing the summer fields to a rich bright green. In the middle ground, the near hills are a clear mix of forest green and mountain blue. As the mountains recede like cut-outs, the blue gets purer and paler; the green disappears. The sky is a slate blue tint.  It’s the palette of Kathleen Menges. It’s the West Coast of Canada, the wide open farm lands  held in parentheses by the  ubiquitous mountain landscape. She has captured the soul of the valley.

She lives in the Abbotsford not far from this gallery and it’s her first solo show at a municipal gallery, a kudo we struggling artists aspire to as a stepping stone to more important recognition.
I know Kathleen, so I listened to her concerns beforehand. There was no need  to fret. This show is professionally hung, well spaced, well lit. It shows each piece to advantage.

Lake of the woods, Kathleen Menges, 78 x 108 inches, cold wax on panel

In the next few days, I will try to get better photos as these ones I took at the show are distorted a bit by the lighting.; but they are quite good enough to give a sense of Menges’ style.

It’s a style dictated by her choice of medium. All the work in this show is created in cold wax and oil paint on birch wood panel.  Wood panel is a requisite for this type of work because it’s rigid and the pigments applied with cold wax are apt to crackle and change with any movement of the substrate.  The wax and pigment can be brushed on or applied with a palette knife in a paste-like state. Menges uses the palette knife by preference. Once the painting is complete, it needs to dry completely and flat, otherwise there is a risk of the paint sliding downwards and losing shape. Once the painting has completely dried, it can be buffed to give it a more shiny surface.

Wine in the making, Kathleen Menges,  30x 36 inches, cold wax on panel

Most of the works in the show are landscapes, but Menges also likes to work in non-representational modes as well. My personal preference goes to these.

She is able to incorporate interesting textural patterns by using industrially made patterns, like the honeycomb pattern in the painting above. I find the tactile sense of these abstractions more engaging than the flatter surface of the landscapes. Funny enough, I also find the shapes are more natural and flow more finely in the abstracts. The colour is nuanced with lovely things happening in the yellow with traces of cerulean blue and greys implicating in the texture.

It’s an enjoyable show. If you are in the area,  go see the Kariton Gallery. It’s at 2387 Ware Street in Abbotsford, situated on the grounds of Mill Lake Park.  Look for hours of operation on the Abbotsford Arts Council web site:

http://abbotsfordartscouncil.com/

It’s on until August 14th, 2012

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One Response to “Kathleen Menges at the Kariton”

  1. Conceptual Muse Says:

    Reblogged this on Conceptual Art.

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