The Rising Arts Writers Program is an initiative created by The Arts Beacon to encourage, mentor, support and post writings by aspiring locals writers. With the intention of fostering critical responses to art and artists in the Valley, the RAW Program creates an opportunity for up and coming writers to comment on their own art scene using the platform of The Arts Beacon website while also being a valuable resource for local artists seeking insights into their practice.
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The Bentley Gallery in downtown Phoenix hosted the opening of Jim Waid: Terra Incognita Exhibition this past weekend. Waid’s work focused on naturalistic elements such as flowers, vines, and trees, mainly from desert landscapes; he first found his inspiration in the Sonoran Desert. He brought his Pima Community College students there to have a more diverse canvas than the classroom, and eventually found all of his inspiration from the lush and diverse vegetation. He spent many years hiking and exploring different desert landscapes throughout Arizona and New Mexico, but today he mostly finds inspiration from his garden and the botanical gardens he visits when he travels. Most of his works are created using acrylic paints and pastels on paper. Waid explains in his interview with the Sonoran Arts Network that he enjoys using these materials because they are easily accessible, and “one can work quickly and energetically.” One can definitely see the energy and quickness in Waid’s work. The brush strokes consistently feel fast yet intentional. Pond: Study #1 has vigorous brush strokes, and is the most energetic canvas on view at the Bentley Gallery.
The most intriguing part of the piece is the chaos of color. The blue, black, and purple hued dots in the background are a great example of the quick brush strokes, and give the painting texture. The plants are also of varying color. The colors were not natural to the plants, but they looked intentional, and gave them a wondering view. A similar piece to Pond: Study #1 was Costa Rica.
Again, the colors are not natural. The water, for example, is blue mixed with orange, yellow, and black. This combination creates a light shimmering effect. Another interesting color choice are the pastel combinations on the leaves of the black tree. The shape of the assorted plants is also an intriguing aspect. Some of the plants seem naturalistic, but some look almost deformed and one-dimensional. This could be intentional since Waid explains that “I don’t want the paintings to be like you’re looking at a landscape. I want them to feel like you’re in it.” The close up view, and the varying textures and colors definitely help with that effect. One of the most texturized pieces is Frozen Pond.
The dazzling white and blue mixed with the burgundy and orange flowers and dark stems create a chilling beauty. The brush strokes help show a movement in the water, and the colors most definitely, “parallel the natural world.”