Nate's Notes on Hidden Wonders

Award-winning artist and teacher, Nate Durnin shares his notes on our show…

Fred Danziger


            Through intensely intricate detail Fred Danziger constructs worlds of color, intimacy, and wonder. The paintings guide us through quiet trails occasionaly interupted by the sounds of waterfalls,  raindrops, and gentle waves on the shore. Danziger's paintings are a love letter to nature, not only in the image of the landscape, but in the way that every leaf is accounted for, every abrasive ridge of tree bark is felt and even a forgotten branch on the ground is made essential to the experience. This is a hyper realized version of nature that goes beyond the visual. The paintings emit the sounds, textures and all the senses of being in the wilderness. Danziger's paintings are much more than landscapes, they are complete recreations of nature captured through painting.

            Danziger's love of paint is equal to that of his passion for the outdoors. Up close these realistic paintings transform into wonderful abrstact tapestries of texture and color. The natural patterns and repetitions found in the woods and shores adorn the canvases through deliberate brushstrokes and thick passages of paint. Like nature these works are simple yet complex, quiet yet powerful, unassuming yet beautiful.


Alicia Asselta

            In Alicia Asselta's work, the traditional is transformed into something new, fresh, and exciting. The subjects that inspire Asselta are no stranger to the art world. Flowers, fruits, and animals have been represented in painting for centuries. However there is nothing reminiscent of a 17th century still life in Asselta's work. Vivid color, aggressive brushstrokes, and bold composition is the mantra that Asselta holds dear. Through her stylistic approach the familiar takes on a different perpective and presents a fresh narraitve. These flowers are not lost in the bouquet. Marked with strong and structural planes of color, Asselta's flowers feel powerful and larger than life. In their singularity the flowers begin to break away from still life all together. Like figurative work or portraiture each flower has it's own gesture, expression, and personality.

            Similar to the floral works, Asselta's animal paintings transcend preconceived expectation. These are not nameless cows grazing in the distance. Like a portrait of a wealthy socialite, Leora's wide eyed smile is infectious and exudes a specific character that that we'd better like to know. On the other side, Bella is portrayed like that of a dignitary. With unwavering confidence she stands above us proclaiming nobility.

            Every subject of Asselta's is treated with grace, respect, and passion. The paintings call for us to take a closer look at simple subjects that we might take for granted and presents us with something wonderful.

Sarah Baptist

john doe 1-sarah baptist-figure oil painting.JPG

            One of paintings greatest assets is it's ability to turn the mundane and every day experiences into something meaningful and powerful. This motif is especially true in the work of Sarah Baptist. The urban landscape accentuated with gas stations, quiet streets, and intersections is a far cry from the picturesque scenes we've come to expect in landscape paintings. However, Baptist invites us to set aside our preconceived notions of beauty and take another look at the world around us. Through her painterly approach, Baptist lifts the curtain of banality and reveals a world of light and color. It's a world that we want to stay in and explore more than the actual world it represents. We want to run through the vibrant blue shadows cast by the buildings on 25th and Washington and up the mysterious path in Across the Road.

            Much like her landscapes, there is an everyday quality to the figures in Baptist's work. The aptly named John Doe paintings are an excellent example. These figures are not the classical idealized forms presented by Michelangelo, nor are they the high society figures we might see in Sargent's portraits. John Doe is the average person observed from a distance. Perhaps they just finished a long day of work as they wait for the train home or maybe they are standing in line at the store. They are at once familiar yet completely mysterious. The figures in the series could be seen at face value simply as distant people. But there is something more. The paintings are so reflective for every person that views them. John Doe is familiar to us because the scenes are so relatable.