NOTE: This is a guest art review by LaVada Raouf, a lecturer in Art History at Spring Hill College. I will just add that the gallery itself is a wonderful viewing space, tremendously well lighted and attractively designed. It is located at 111 Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile. — Quin

by LaVada Raouf

Joy Gardner’s show at Sophiella Gallery, Rooted in the Southern Landscape, is a colorful journey into the lifeblood of the south. Land is the root of southern imagination and the source of powerful memories in all its lush, verdant, lyrical beauty. This truth is evident in the fifty works at Sophiella exhibited during the month of September.

The inspiration for Gardner’s work is in the deep connection she feels with nature and more specifically her places: urban rivers dense with magnolias, palmetto, live oaks, and mountaintop forests of pine, hickory, and dogwood. In her hands, though, these are not the sepia-toned hazy memories of a time long ago–but rather pungent bursts of warm reds, oranges, and pinks mixed in with layers of blue and green as seen in Fern Bank 1 and 2. Or perhaps as in Late Afternoon Light where Gardner captures, a soft, silvery, shimmering light filtering through a stand of trees.

Whether it is a deconstructed view of farm fields viewed from atop a plateau, riverbanks dense with foliage and pools of water reflecting the sky, or masses of magnolias, the viewer is treated to a lively joyful explosion of color. The vigorous surface quality of the paint imbues the paintings with the life energy of nature.

Gardner’s work is rooted in specific landscape of her home, reaching beyond that to a world that seems evocative of Arcadia, a magical domain set apart from the ordinary.


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