Addison Street Window Gallery
Curated by Demetri Broxton
February 22 to April 9, 2014
Saturday, February 22nd 3-5 pm
2018 Addison Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
Work is on view 24/7 from Addison Street, right across the street from Berkeley Rep!
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In these paintings, the intimate path-side vista is the source material for my construction of a fictional landscape. When gallivanting through the forest, head down to avoid catching my foot on a protruding rock, the miniature organic habitat commands my fascination. My eyes sift through fragile twig lattices in our California wild spaces and I find myself looking for signs of environmental strain, but also for signs that life is thriving independent from my specie’s proximity. The Teeming Rift is a portal to a world that exists alongside ours where creatures form communities, build complex homes and follow intuitive migration paths. Insects and arachnids attach themselves to and utilize the plant world in fascinating ways. As the sandy soil falls away from the base of a palm, a wormy root network is revealed that flaccidly festoons itself in fanning layers. As the filaments of a spider’s nest gradually build up opacity, it begins to hide the skeleton of the branches that support it.
These paintings are a study in how we use overlap as a visual device to understand three-dimensional space. Organic forms twist and tangle each other to create frequently interrupted visual pathways. In these condensed spaces, I’ve included only small slices of deep, lonely space to give the viewer the sense that they may be hiding and crouching down to protect themselves in potentially perilous environs. As a painter I’m drawn to subject matter that’s both alluring and repelling. The plant life I’ve selected is presented with a skewed scale in order to emphasize its brooding and creature-like resemblance.
I’ve decided to study in paint these uncelebrated beings and their wooded ecosystem as a means of highlighting the incredible complexity and vulnerability that exists in our periphery. In painting this subject matter larger than life, I hope to elevate it to something worthy of contemplation and worship. I too hope that the works spark a dialogue about the importance of preserving our wild spaces. The teeming, abundant and thriving natural world exists alongside ours; but I’m reminded that it is our responsibility learn from it without destroying it.
The Addison Street Windows Gallery presents The Teeming Rift: The Art of Jamie Treacy, an exhibition organized by curator, Demetri Broxton. The Teeming Rift assembles acrylic paintings completed by Jamie Treacy within the last year. Through his paintings, Treacy creates fictional landscapes, derived from his observations in nature. Treacy alters plants and organic shapes, mixing up proportions to create new, fantastical, and sometimes alien-like worlds. He is particularly interested in what happens when humans leave a built environment and plant life returns and flourishes.
The title of the exhibition is derived from Treacy’s tendency to look deeply into crevices within fallen tree trunks and rocks to discover often overlooked aspects of the natural world. He paints his observations in larger than life scale to force us to reconsider our relation with nature. Often times the act of zooming in creates what appears to be otherworldly. In The Adoration Circle, Treacy zooms in on a cactus plant and flower bulb sprouts bursting through the soil. The flower sprouts are really only about one or two inches tall, but in his paintings they appear to be behemoth structures towering around a monumental tree in the middle of a lake bed.
At first glance, Jamie Treacy’s work may simply appear to be pretty investigations of the natural world. However, upon closer examination, he is really asking us to focus on the critical loss of natural resources. In this way, Treacy builds upon the legacy left by land artists from the 1970s such as Robert Smithson. Smithson’s most well known work, Spiral Jetty is a monumental artwork, 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide, created in the middle of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Smithson broke away from tradition by placing his works out in nature and using the earth itself as his medium. Spiral Jetty is about entropy: decay and renewal. The artwork, a monumental spiral made of dirt in the middle of the Great Salt Lake is visible only when the water levels are low enough. Over time the piece will be completely taken over by nature. While Treacy employs traditional art materials to produce his work and the paintings are presented hanging on the walls of an art gallery, he is building upon the legacy of artists like Smithson by investigating concerns of environmental sustainability. Treacy does not move tons of earth or situate his pieces outside of the gallery; however, his work connects to the work of Smithson by asking us to consider the human impact on nature as well as showing us the beauty of the often overlooked wonders of nature.
Jamie Treacy also builds upon the legacy of artists working in the Hudson River School style of painting, such as Edwin Church and Thomas Cole. The Hudson River School of painting came upon the heels of the American Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th century. Much of the landscape had been destroyed and artists responded by painting romantic and breathtaking landscapes. The artists involved in this movement wanted to show the pastoral American landscape, where humans and nature coexisted in mutual peace. The painters of the Hudson River School reminded the public of the beauty of nature, which spurred movements for preservation.
In presenting this exhibition, we hope Jamie Treacy’s work reminds you of the beauty of nature, and inspires you to look a little deeper the next time you pass a crevice.