Leaning into the Light

Carl Oltvedt & Barbara McIlrath

March 18 - April 22, 2017

Leaning into the Light

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 18, 2-5 p.m.

This two-person exhibition by Carl Oltvedt and Barbara McIlrath focuses on the lifelong affinity both artists share for nature. Over their respective careers, McIlrath and Oltvedt have remained dedicated to representing their rich encounters with nature through painting and drawing. The title for this show comes from an interview with the environmental writer Barry Lopez, “There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.”

Carl Oltvedt works in Minneapolis as a full-time artist. In 2015, he retired from Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he was a Professor in the School of Visual Arts. Over the past two years, Oltvedt’s principal interests have been the rugged landscape of Lake Superior’s North Shore, the mixed conifer and deciduous forest surrounding Mantrap Lake near Nevis, MN and the Mississippi River environment near Crosby Lake in St. Paul. Of his work, Oltvedt has written, “My working process includes studies done on location and further work completed in the studio from my photographic documentation of subject material. This may take days, weeks or years to work through.  In the end, I strive to instill a sense of presence and mystery in my work.”

Similarly devoted to perceiving the world more deeply though painting and drawing, Barbara McIlrath finds her subject in the dramatic landscape of the Driftless Region of western Wisconsin where the seasonal changes in the sky, land, and water constantly inspire her. McIlrath, who grew up just outside of Chicago now spends her time divided between her home in St. Paul and her farm/studio in Pepin, WI. This current body of work is centered on two locations: the village of Old Frontenac along the Mississippi and the farmland of Hicks Valley. For McIlrath, there is a spiritual, intellectual and physical connection to the discipline of “seeing deeply” and the act of painting. She explains her process as follows, “My work begins with living in direct observation of each place in time. Through a modernist eye, I experiment with the painter’s language and landscape. The resulting work ranges from recognizable images of sky, land and water made on location to more abstract compositions, which evolve later with improvisation in the studio.”

Both artists will be present at the opening reception Saturday, March 18th from 2-5 pm. The exhibition continues through April 22, 2017.