National forest on display at Sears Gallery’s ‘Land of Contrast’

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The Sears Art Museum Gallery is showcasing the Dixie National Forest with its Land of Contrast exhibit. 

Curator Kathy Cieslewicz said she wanted to give Dixie State College students the opportunity to see artist Arlene Braithwaite’s series on the forest, which she painted on commission from the forest’s management. 

“The forest is part of where we live,” Cieslewicz said. “We just want our students to be aware of the Dixie National Forest and enjoy it and take care of it.”

However, the show has expanded to include more artists, which Braithwaite said was meant to get more people into the forest. 

“[Kathy] immediately got on board and said, ‘What if we send more artists out to the area,’” Braithwaite said. “When [Dixie National Forest representatives] first contacted me, the whole idea was to get the diverse kinds of experience in Dixie.”

Braithwaite echoed the statement, saying she was surprised at the scenery the forest offered.

“I never really had done much exploring, and I was so surprised at what spectacular scenery there was and how relatively undiscovered it is in a lot of places,” she said. “You still have spectacular chances for solitude.”

Cieslewicz said the exhibit would include multimedia elements as well, such as a showing of “Green Fire,” a feature-length documentary about environmentalist Aldo Leopold, who was one of the progenitors of the environmentalist movement. 

Another feature the exhibit will have is a map that marks the areas where the painters created their work.

“When the artists were in the forest, they either had a GPS of where they were or drawing [their location], so we’ll have a map with those locations,” Cieslewicz said.

Cieslewicz said a variety of painting styles would be featured.

“The artists work in different [media], so the interpretation of what they saw in the forest is very diverse,” she said. “Some artists did a plein air painting (a painting done outside)…We also have watercolor, oil and pastel.”

Braithwaite works in pastel, and said she prefers the medium because it allows the artists to get close to their plural work.

“I like pastels because they’re so immediate,” Braithwaite said. “There’s nothing between you and pigment.”

Braithwaite, who had been commissioned to create paintings for each district of the forest, said one of her favorites was her painting at Powell Point.

“It’s looking up from the blue hills up toward Powell Point,” she said. “That was a really fun time because I had to kind of camp up and set up so I could be there right as the sun hit the cliff.”

Cieslewicz said notable artists displaying their work include Braithwaite, Roland Lee and Sue Cotter, who is also a notable book illustrator.

Braithwaite said she wanted the paintings to exhort viewers to visit the Forest.

“I think we’re fortunate to live in an area that’s so spectacularly beautiful,” she said. “The whole idea of the show and the whole idea of getting these artists together is to get the people right out in the National Forest and enjoying what we have in our backyard.”

The Land of Contrast runs from Nov. 16 to Jan. 18. The Sears Art Museum Gallery is located in the Dolores Dore Eccles Fine Arts Center and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.