To arrive at Gardenworks in Salem, New York, one must first drive through farmlands and fields, twisting country roads and sunlit groves. Raspberry fields and friendly staff welcome you to the store and gallery, an old converted barn housing local produce, homemade jams and cheeses, and kitschy home décor, arranged busily. To get to the gallery upstairs, you must first pass rows and rows of dried flowers on pegs, reminiscent of colonial life.
In the gallery, the ceiling is high and the barn doors are open, allowing the sunlight to brighten the gallery. Light streams in through cracks in the big wooden slats of the walls. Laura Neadle’s work hangs on large white panels suspended from the walls and beams in the old barn. Dusty and cobwebbed antique farm tools are placed decoratively in the middle of the floor. Laura’s work pops off the panels at you – framed in gold to catch the sunlight, her colors brighter than the capabilities of paint. There is a unique texture used throughout her paintings – most notably in her work “Pillars of Stone”. This texture, combined with the bright colors and dramatic composition, sets a theme for her show, which is titled “Crossing Borders”.
She uses inks as her base, poured on yupo and inlaid with foreign texture. The texture is created by laying plastic wrap in the ink while it’s wet and then letting it dry. She then peels it off, and paints with watercolor over the interesting ink shapes. The bright oranges and warm yellows used throughout the show pop off the page, while the distinctive textures, and use of dark, heavy paint in her watercolors differentiate her landscapes from the traditional brand so common in the Adirondacks.
Her subject matter is unique, as well. These are not your typical locations for landscape paintings – they are off the beaten path, farmland most people drive by without noticing; bridges, quarries and shops documented on a lazy drive through the country. She concentrates on Rupert and Salem, where the show takes place, and the viewer’s long, languid drive out to Gardenworks sets the mood for the works. Take “Between Salem and Bedlam Corners” for instance – this piece is a landscape, but it’s no typical lake or forest scene. The texture of the foreground is that same ink-and-plastic-wrap technique, and looks like a stained-glass scene, stretching into the distance with extreme perspective. Houses are barely visible in the background – this is a familiar scene to anybody who’s gone for a drive through the country in Upstate New York, but the intensity of the dark-blue mountains and the rough texture of the dark soil makes it almost surreal.
All the houses in Neadle’s work are distant, always dwarfed by mountains or sky, and always outdone by the colors of nature. In “Red Sky at Night”, she uses the paper in a portrait fashion, rather than horizontally as most landscapes, and ¾ of the page is an intense red and blue sky, above what would be a bland watercolor of a house save for the color-storm hovering above it. “Farm Near Rupert” is practically abstract, a farmhouse in the distance, reverse-silhouetted by dark colors, with an enormous foreground of color leaping off the page in that stained-glass texture.
Neadle also had some traditional landscapes for the more conventional taste, admitting that some of it was older, and noting that her newest traditional landscapes are much freer, easier, and looser after her experimental materials and colors. The show blends with the location incredibly well, with a modern and surrealistic spin on the old standbys.
This show can be seen at http://www.lauraneadle.com under “Galleries” and “Gardenworks”.
Between Salem and Bedlam Corners, Laura Neadle