This month's Art Ltd. has a lovely review of my recent show at Artzone 461. The text, by Dewitt Cheng, is below.
Photography and Impressionism came of age together in mid-19th century Paris, sharing an interest in the new world as a compelling spectacle requiring no moral or allegorical justification. The staged tableaux of the classical tradition gave way to realism, nicely exemplified in Stendhal's description of the novel as a mirror carried down a road. With their oddly cropped compositions, blurred focus, and embrace of the fugitive and transient, the slice-of-life works of Degas, Manet, Monet, and Renoir paradoxically foreshadow Kodak. (Other painters took photographic roads not chosen by the Impressionists, of course.) Painter Heidi McDowell updates this symbiosis, exploiting the "quick, cheap and easy nature of digital cameras" and the auto's mobility to scan for images worthy of transcription into her chosen medium. McDowell: "Oil painting has its own 'artifacts' and unpredictable process-related effects... Rough painterly marks are often enough to indicate detail, and each medium mixed with the paint adds its own unique texture to the painting's surface." She includes in her finished works, however, the "digital artifacts, dust on the sensor, reflections in the car window and other 'aberrations' found in photographic source material."
McDowell's two dozen paintings from 2010 and 2011 in Road Trip are unsentimental and unfussy--no waiting for the photographic golden hour here--yet, despite their modest size, dramatic. Faraway views like Silo 2, Red Hill, Radar, and Reservoir are so suffused with light and atmosphere that their ostensible subjects, shrunk and faded by distance, seem, initially, almost irrelevant; once seen, however, they become surrogates for the passing viewer--silent sentinels. The askew horizons, close-up views, and tight cropping in Tank 2, Yosemite Landscape, Tank Reflection, Refinery 3 and House on Stilts commemorate the landmarks of the passing scene while recapitulating compositional devices employed by modernist painters and photographers alike. Her paintings of riders in passing cars (Duster, Fastback) add social observation, while the twin water towers in Victorville add deadpan humor. Such is the yield from a memory chip driven along a superhighway by a sharp-eyed driver/painter.
KQED also has a very nice review, Road Trips: Two Shows, Three Artists and Many Possible Paths, here.
The show came down in August, but I will have some work up at open studios in two weeks.