Continuing through July 3, 2010
Chester Arnold's paintings and drawings (here, studies of the larger oils on linen) are alive. Cliffs, fallen trees, piles of branches, and tree stumps pulse with personality, in this new body of works that are almost devoid of people. As he has in the past, Arnold based this series on a central theme, one of the artist's favorite quotes, which was penned by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant: "From the crooked timber of humanity, nothing straight is ever made."
In this exhibition, Arnold continues to explore the intersection of man in nature in highly detailed and expertly stylized nature scenes. The wind's chaos kicks up papers, deterioration, detritus, cut-down trees. In several works, the Sonoma-based artist also keeps the slightly elevated perspective found in previous paintings; the viewer surveys the scene from above. But these studies of decay, based as they are on such a doom-and-gloom declaration, do not depress. In these often large scale landscapes (several measure as large as 78 by 96 inches) are touches of humor; Arnold's jaunty, fluid Van Gogh-like strokes result in an animated playfulness. There's also an earthy, romantic appeal of times past - the allure of an abandoned old barn or rickety rope-and-wood-plank bridge. One comes away with a sense of optimism or hope: there's a beauty and substance of character to be found among the gnarled wreckage.