The windows of the Canyon Community Center in Springdale, which is cradled in a redrock canyon just outside Zion National Park, look out on a landscape that visually reverberates with the abstracted canyons and flora on display within. In a hand-in-glove match between venue and artwork, the Center hosts the exhibit Lines in Nature: Recent Works by Justin Newby & Carol Bold until December 23rd. In fact, natural harmony seems to be the overarching theme defining the show. Work by Carol Bold, a printmaker and painter originally from California, and that of Justin Newby, a wood sculptor originally from Texas, complement one another well in a small but succinct series of artworks celebrating the landscape of Utah’s southwest which both have come to admire.
Bold, in particular, is becoming well known in local circles, both for her complex reductive linocuts and her vivid acrylic landscapes, one of which earned a prestigious Purchase Prize from the Escalante Canyons Plein Air Competition in 2015. Her work has changed in content since leaving California in 2010, but has remained lively in style and hue.
In the past two years Bold’s work has become more decisive— the compositions at once more simplified and more iconic, as Bold hones in on her content without compromising her palette until cactus or canyon loom before the viewer with unwavering intensity reminiscent of Georgia O’Keeffe. Lines in Nature is a good sampling of this recent shift, both in the florals and the more ambiguous canyons. The painting “Pine Creek Cathedral,” depicting one of Zion’s most popular spots accessible only by canyoneering, captures the formation with the accuracy of a portrait while maintaining visual integrity in composition.
The show also wisely features Newby’s more simple abstractions, which complement Bold’s work quite well. Several pieces seem to contribute lines of running dialogue between the artists. For example, Newby’s “Divide,” where a large pillar of wood is divided by a serpentine line representing a land mass cut by sky or water, echoes Bold’s “Blue Divide,” in which bright blue sky separates the rust-colored cliffs of a canyon when looking straight up. Similarly, the undulating, water-formed shapes of several of Bold’s close-cropped canyons, “Peek-A-Boo” and “Spooky,” find a visual counterpart in Newby’s “Flow.”
It is clear from the pieces in Lines in Nature that both artists have hiked and canyoneered a good portion of the southern Utah terrain. Enough to, as the local saying goes, have some red dirt between their toes. Zion enthusiasts and visitors alike will find much to appreciate in Lines in Nature.
“Lines in Nature,” work by Justin Newby and Carol Bold, Canyon Community Center, Springdale, through Dec. 23rd.