Plein Air Experience

'Passage' By J. Austin 'Passage' By J. Austin
'Forest Mount Saint John' By Andrea Starkey 'Forest Mount Saint John' By Andrea Starkey


By Jud Yalkut

'Forest Mount Saint John' By Andrea Starkey

On September 1, 2010, Mount Saint John at Bergamo was host to 15 active artists for the day. Gallery Saint John coordinator Brother Joe Barrish noted that “the Mount is celebrating its 100 years of existence and we wanted other artists besides our five resident Marianist members to use the grounds as a theme.”

The invited artists were members of the Dayton Visual Arts Center who had planned its “7th Annual Fresh Art in Fresh Air” as part of its series of plein air works on natural sites.

“Fresh Art is the name given an annual painting on site or plein air experience,” explained Brother Barrish.

The beautiful grounds and meditative space of Mount Saint John are a magnificent inspiration for image producing and the resulting exhibition of paintings, etchings, woodcuts, monoprints, photographs and color sketches, which also includes work by the Marianist brothers, runs at the gallery through November 28 following an earlier show by just the brothers.

The current show has a combination of pieces done by both groups. Among the DVAC artist selections are images also produced in and around the Dayton area as well as on the Bergamo site.

Several palette knife paintings in the impressionist style are gems of color,” commented Barrish. “There are close-up studies in oil pastel and etchings that investigate the light patterns and calligraphic tree forms in the wooded areas.”

DVAC artist Andrea Starkey did a number of pencil sketches within the woods of Mount Saint John and altered them in various ways, such as by making a monotype of her sketch of Forest, Mount Saint John. The overall effect of this small panoramic study is of light breaking through the textural tonalities of slanting foliage on ghostly trunks, which carries over into mysterious depths and layers of her four-block woodblock print Forest No. 6, Mount Saint John.

The straight pencil drawing of Forest, Mount Saint John employs all the subtle tricks of graphite with blurring, melding and streaking techniques, and the fringed vertical trunks of her Forest, Mount Saint John has the muted reflective ambience of glistening water.

Most abstract of Starkey’s Mount Saint John compositions is muted meanderings through white space in her soft pastel Shadows on Mount Saint John, floating with an almost oriental gracefulness. Bringing her images back into the mundane world of downtown Dayton is the soft pastel of the Oregon District entryway at the Fifth Street Bridge and the slanted overhanging awnings of Third Street from the Cannery.

J. Austin Jennings also focuses on downtown Dayton with her angled view of Main Street seen from the corner of the Victoria Theatre complete with Phantom

'Passage' By J. Austin

and Wicked posters. Jennings finds another Passage with her pastoral bridge crossing a stream towards the Bergamo cemetery where white stones rest in the mottled shadows of evergreens on the green ground. Her husband Randy Jennings shows a peaceful color photograph of a water lily and pads with navigating goldfish in Watercolors.

Susan King has multiple shades of green, the most infinite color of all, angled by purple grasses and thickly applied impasto textures in her oil Autumn Morning, and approaches her wooded glen from the opposite direction with the sea of gilded grasses progressed further along in Autumn Afternoon. Green trees and hay-colored fields with horizontal wild hedgerows give quiet space to the Meadow at Mount Saint John by Michele BonDurant.

Four small oil images by Christine Klinger glow within their black frames with the purple, yellow and white sprays of bushes in Meadow in Autumn, in the spread of misty grasses delineated by green outcroppings and framed by a tall cedar in Sanctuary, in the slanting Path to the Woods bordered by wild brush and flowering weeds leading to a yellow leaved tree, and in the multicolored row of trees with yellow and darker greens and the emerging yellow sky glow of Pines at Sunset.

Brother John Lemker includes a number of images carried over from his photo-portraits of Mount Saint John like the beautiful views around the Virgin Mary during the seasons in Grotto in Spring and Grotto in Autumn, the nestling spotted Newborn Fawn in innocent grandeur, the glistening deliquescence of a profusion of rain on a red-orange Spotted Jewelweed, and the translucency of Raindrops on Iris Blossoms.

Brother Charlie Wanda has two digital photographs of Snow and Frost on wintry paths and weighing down tree branches, and his large oil and altered surface Coming Home with two black birds arriving at bare broken trees. Brother Barrish shows his elegantly abstract dimensional collage Night Trail, Mount Saint John and his watercolor homage to the great Southwest, Garden of the Gods, Colorado, and variations on the Raku ceramic leaf theme by Brother Don Smith rest on pedestal tables.

The public is invited to an Artists’ Closing Reception from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, November 28.The Gallery Saint John is located at 4400 Shakertown Road. Gallery hours are noon – 4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. For more information call (937) 320-5405.

Reach DCP visual arts critic Jud Yalkut at

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