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KRISTEN GARNEAU : BOUNDLESS

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KRISTEN GARNEAU : BOUNDLESS

23 Sunnyside Ave. l Mill Valley, CA 94941 l 415.384.8288 l seagergray.com

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KRISTEN GARNEAU : BOUNDLESS Exhibition Dates: November 12 - December 15, 2013 Reception for the Artist: Friday, November 15, 6 to 8 PM Front Cover: Fencepost (detail), oil on canvas, 72 x 66� Photography by Craig Kolb Essay by Alan Selsor Direct inquiries to: Seager Gray Gallery 23 Sunnyside Ave. Mill Valley, CA 94941 415.384.8288 art@seagergray.com All Rights Reserved

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January on Drake’s Bay, 2013 oil on canvas 52 x 84”

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Kristen Garneau: Boundless

Kristen Garneau’s paintings capture a fascination with the landscapes of Northern California and the American West – a love, as she explains, of “the sky, the plains and slopes, the ocean where it meets the shore, the shifting textures and contrasts as the light changes through the day.” Her works are inspired by actual locations – January on Drake’s Bay has an identifiable Marin setting, for example – but they are not faithful reproductions of places observed. Rather, they depict “the landscape rendered down to its pure essence, its raw beauty distilled in order to convey my personal experience of it.” Yet, Garneau is quick to add that it is not just the beauty of the landscape that intrigues her, but also the emotional impact she finds there. “Perhaps that is why I am so often attracted to what I call the ‘in-between’ times – the magic in the transitions at dawn or dusk, or when storms or fog roll through.” Consider Thunderstorm across the River, Garneau’s reflection on a magnificent landscape in Idaho’s Snake River basin. “The actual day, the actual storm – did it look quite like that?,” she asks. “No – but it felt like that. I can still smell that thunderstorm when I look at this piece.” Although each painting begins with an experience in nature, the results are the product of a careful studio practice. Images are composed with simplified forms, calm brushwork, and a constrained palette. Surfaces form as layers build up – and on close inspection, the painting process itself may be apparent. The artist sometimes relies on photographs to assist her, but the photos are more like notes that she modifies and moves beyond. In a sense, Garneau’s art owes more to the examples of the Abstract Expressionist masters than to the traditional schools of landscape painting often associated with California and the West. Such works as Fall Evening, Fogbank, and Over the Dark Water – with their tonal expanses forming their compositions – resonate with the works of color field abstract painters, for example. Garneau also plays with format, as in Season of Snow, a dramatic four-panel panorama that, like Thunderstorm, was inspired by a day in the Snake River basin.

Thunderstorm across the River, 2013 oil on canvas 48 x 48”

The artist’s love and experience of nature has been a lifelong pursuit. “I grew up in Contra Costa County, riding horses in the watershed lands and finding there a true wonderland of the imagination,” she recalls. From her youth, she was attracted to art. “So, fresh out of high school – back in the 60s – I enrolled at CCAC and completed two years there. I learned a great deal, but I was just not ready. It would be some twenty years later, when I was older and more mature, that I really began my development as an artist.”

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Garneau credits her mentor, Chester Arnold, with whom she studied at the College of Marin over a 12-year period. “I used to love bold, pure color – but when applied to the landscape, the results were rough, harsh, even aggressive. Chester gently guided me in a new direction. My palette became more limited, quieter. I might take a blue and a brown, and together with white, they would be all I would use for a full range of tones. I began to concentrate on shapes and open surfaces. I might turn canvases from different angles, so that my focus would be on placement and balance rather than the subject.” As a result, she found that her work “became softer – and, at the same time, stronger and more confident. All the sharp edges were smoothed down – like tumbled, polished stones.” Garneau extracts great impact from seemingly simple details: In The Oak, the lone tree’s branches and leaves stand in bold silhouette against the sky. In Moon over Water, the light rides the crests of a few waves. In these, as in all her works, Garneau strives to convey a sense of the purity she finds in nature, “its openness and honesty, free of human interference or human agendas.” One work, however, stands out as a rare exception to Garneau’s exclusion of the manmade, The Fencepost. The post of the title is very small, almost invisible as it stands at the top of the hill, just to the left of the trees. Its presence on the canvas provides insight into the artist’s intuitive process. “That post just wouldn’t be ignored,” she says. “My eye wouldn’t leave it. This one imposed object – so tiny, so alone – became indispensible to the painting.” So the post stands, expressed with a single paint stroke breaking the line where the sky meets the slope. The land is the artist’s first love, but she grants herself the freedom to explore other subjects. She has, for example, included wild horses and other animals in the landscape. She has also experimented with simple still lives and, more recently, a series of small works she calls “character studies.” These last are being shown now for the first time. The inspiration is a favorite novel, Dickens’s Great Expectations, and its well-known cast of characters. Some – Pip, Miss Havisham, Abel Magwitch – are portrayed as imagined “portraits.” Others are symbolic – Mr. Jaggers as a wolf, Estella as a pair of pointe shoes. Those who know the novel might well agree that the uncaring Jaggers should be presented as a wild predator. But Estella and the ballet?

The Jetty, 2013 oil on linen 34 x 30”

Garneau explains, “I see in Estella the qualities of beauty, grace, and rigorous discipline – along with the idea that she is being choreographed, controlled.” Miss Havisham famously sought to make Estella an extension of her own bitterness, but Garneau sees the metaphor of dance as also opening another, more positive view: “Even within the constraints of the ‘performance,’ Estella could find the means to discover herself as an individual.” This desire for discovery has always motivated the artist herself: “I have matured as a painter, but in a sense I am still that young girl riding horses in Contra Costa – that young girl who is happiest when she is out there in a wonderland of the imagination. There is magic in the landscape. Yet, this magic can be easily overlooked, unless you take the time to stop and open the senses.” Essay by Alan Selsor 9


Abbott’s Lagoon, 2013 oil on canvas 24 x 24”

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Fencepost, 2013, (right) oil on canvas 72 x 66”


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Catching the Rain, 2013 oil on canvas 18 x 36”

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Rain Rising, 2013, (right) oil on linen 34 x 30”


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Bluff, 2013 oil on canvas 20 x 18”

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Close to the Edge, 2013, (right) oil on canvas 48 x 48”


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Moon over the Water, 2013 oil on canvas 48 x 54”

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Over the Dark Water, 2013, (right) oil on canvas 66 x 60”


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The Oak, 2013 oil on canvas 36 x 72�

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Fall Evening, 2013 oil on canvas 18 x 24�

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Fogbank, 2013 oil on linen 34 x 30�

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Season of Snow, 2013 oil, wax, glue and varnish on wood, four panels 12 x 48�

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS by CHARLES DICKENS

Pip, 2013 oil on canvas, 14 x 11”

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Estella, (as a pair of pointe shoes), 2013 oil on canvas, 14 x 11�

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Miss Havisham, 2013 oil on canvas, 14 x 11�

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Abel Magwitch, 2013 oil on canvas, 14 x 11�

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Mr. Jaggers, (as a wolf), 2013 oil on canvas, 14 x 11�

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KRISTEN GARNEAU Solo Exhibition, Kristen Garneau: Boundless, Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA Ranches and Rolling Hills: Landscape Art Show, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Nicasio, CA Golden Retriever Foundation Art Auction, Wichita Falls, TX Henry’s Fork Foundation Auction, Island Park, ID Mini Show, Invitational Group Exhibition, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA

2006

Solo Exhibition, Mill Valley Library, Mill Valley, CA Small Works Show, Sonoma Museum of Visual Art, Santa Rosa, CA Solo Exhibition, Rotunda Gallery, The Sequoias, San Francisco, CA Toby’s Feed Barn, Invitational Group Exhibition “Art on the Farm,” Pt. Reyes, CA

2005

Visual Cadence, Group Exhibition, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, CA

2012

Materials, Group Exhibition, Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA Henry’s Fork Foundation Auction, Island Park, ID Mini Show, Invitational Group Exhibition, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA Golden Retriever Foundation Art Auction, St. Louis, MO Ranches and Rolling Hills: Landscape Art Show, Marin Agriculture Land Trust, Nicasio, CA

2004

Solo Exhibition, The Depot Bookstore and Café, Mill Valley, CA

2003

Mini Show, Invitational Group Exhibition, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA Artisans Gallery, National Juried Exhibition (Marian Parmenter, Juror), Mill Valley, CA Falkirk Annual Juried Show, Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA

2011

Miniatures, Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA Fresno Art Commission Art Auction, Fresno, CA Mini Show, Invitational Group Exhibition, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA Henry’s Fork Foundation Auction, Island Park, ID Ranches and Rolling Hills: Landscape Art Show, Marin Agriculture Land Trust, Nicasio, CA Local Landscapes, 4-person exhibition, College of Marin, Kentfield, CA

2002

Scenes of Mill Valley, Artisan’s Gallery, Mill Valley, CA (Honorable mention, Philip Lenarhes, Juror) Falkirk Annual Juried Show, Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA

2010

Ranches and Rolling Hills: Landscape Art Show, Marin Agriculture Land Trust, Nicasio, CA Surface/Tension: H2O, Bay Model Visitor Center, Sausalito, CA Henry’s Fork Foundation Auction, Island Park, ID Solo Exhibition, 255 California St., San Francisco, CA Mini Show, Invitational Group Exhibition, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA

2009

Ranches and Rolling Hills: Landscape Art Show, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Nicasio, CA Tiny. Group Exhibition, Studio Gallery, San Francisco, CA Fresno Art Commission Art Auction, Fresno, CA Solo Exhibition, Bay Model Visitor Center, Sausalito, CA Henry’s Fork Foundation Auction, San Francisco, CA Painting Large, Group Exhibition, San Marco Gallery, Dominican University, San Rafael, CA Mini Show, Invitational Group Exhibition, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA

2008

Marinscapes, Group Exhibition, Larkspur, CA Mini Show, Invitational Group Exhibition, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA Solo Exhibition, Mill Valley City Hall, Mill Valley, CA Art of Nature, Group Exhibition, Sausalito Art Festival, Sausalito, CA Bolinas Museum Annual Art Auction & Fall Fandango, Bolinas, CA Fresno Art Commission Art Auction, Fresno, CA

2007

The Shape of the Land, 142 Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley, CA Mini Show, Invitational Group Exhibition, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA On the Strait Edge, Hilliard Architects, San Francisco, CA Wild West Marin, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Olema, CA California Centered: the Environment, Merced County Arts, Merced, CA

2013

2001 Operating Systems, Group Exhibition, Susan Cummins Gallery, Mill Valley, CA Small Works (Kenneth Baker, juror), Sonoma Museum of Visual Art, Santa Rosa, CA Bay Area Landscapes, (Honorable Mention), Artisans Gallery, Mill Valley, CA Falkirk Annual Juried Show, Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA 2000

Spring Show, 2-person Exhibition, Ringsize Designs, Fairfax, CA

Honors and Affiliations

Chair, ICB Artists Association Winter Open Studios (2011) Juror, Milley Awards (Art), Mill Valley, CA (2010) Chair, Mill Valley Arts Commission (2006) Juror, Mill Valley Arts Commission (2004-2006) Member, Mill Valley Arts Commission (2003-2006) Juror, Artisans Gallery, Mill Valley, CA (2001) Artist member, Marin Agricultural Land Trust Member, ICB Artists Association

Education

California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA. Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey, CA. College of Marin, Kentfield, CA. (Studied with Chester Arnold for 12 years)

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Kristen Garneau’s paintings capture a fascination with the landscapes of Northern California and the American West – a love, as she explains, of “the sky, the plains and slopes, the ocean where it meets the shore, the shifting textures and contrasts as the light changes through the day.” Although each painting begins with an experience in nature, the results are the product of a careful studio practice. Images are composed with simplified forms, calm brushwork, and a constrained palette. Surfaces form as layers build up – and on close inspection, the painting process itself may be apparent. The artist sometimes relies on photographs to assist her, but the photos are more like notes that she modifies and moves beyond. from the catalog essay by Alan Selsor

23 Sunnyside Ave. l Mill Valley, CA 94941 l 415.38 4.8288 l seagergray.com 28

Kristen Garneau: Boundless, Seager Gray Gallery  

Full color catalog of Kristen Garneau's exhibition of oil paintings at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, CA. Essay by Alan Selsor.

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