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LandEscape meets

Brooke McGowen Nature is beautiful and mysterious but also dangerous and threatening. It is the source of breathtaking sunsets, the intoxicating perfume of flowers, a bird soaring above, all of the things we love to see and feel when we venture out of our safe homes. But it is also the source of devastating storms, wild and hungry animals, nasty poisonous plants, deadly snakes and spiders. Our relationship to nature is schizophrenic. We recognize that nature is important even as we strive to tame it, to clip it down to a well-manicured lawn where not even a weed can survive. We spray it with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to insure it remains subjugated to our will. We cut down forests with impunity to make room for our human activities. But this is not how nature works. The world will never be a pretty garden. The laws of bio-diversity require that those annoying bugs live if you want to hear the music of the songbird. Even those unpleasant snakes and spiders have their role to play in the whole scheme of things. By trying to repress nature we are repressing ourselves. We cannot control nature. We are a part of nature ourselves. When I moved from New York City to a remote area in Northern California in the fall of 2018, I was at first impressed by the purple mountains and towering pines. But living in the wilderness proved to be an immense challenge. From a freak snowstorm that brought down huge trees to the threat of poisonous plants at every step not to mention rattlesnakes, mountain lions and of course wildfires, these challenges showed me that nature is the boss. Instead of trying to eradicate and destroy nature, we must learn to respect it. My paintings reflect my deep respect and even fear of nature. Nature holds many unknowns as does my painting process. I squirt the paint directly out of the bottle onto the canvas. This way the laws of nature determine the outcome. The laws of gravity and fluid dynamics open a portal to the universe. These same laws create the patterns of galaxies and the symmetrical beauty of a flower. By surrendering to the natural movement of the paint I allow nature to express itself in my paintings. Colors coalesce to suggest unfathomable deep spaces and impenetrable thicket. The secrets of the swirling paint correspond to the mysteries of the landscape. The attempt to housebreak nature has failed. If we want to survive we must learn to live in nature without destroying it and while realizing that every bug and every weed has just as much right to be here as we do. By respecting the laws of nature in my paintings I hope to support a new way of seeing nature that will let us live on a finite planet as a part of nature to protect and preserve it.

An interview by Ralph Landau, curator and Katherine Williams, curator

Hello Brooke and welcome to LandEscape.

Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a

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