A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
Jan 19, 2011
04:09 PM

Cold Comfort

Cold Comfort

It’s here—winter in the truest sense. The excitement of the holidays has passed and we’re left with raw cold and a whitewashed landscape. But if you take the time to look, there’s incredible beauty around us this time of year. Local photographers certainly have noticed.

When I visited the Branch, Leaf, Blossom exhibition at the UW Arboretum’s Steinhauer Trust Gallery, I expected to find visual celebrations of summer, a time when trees are lush, fields are green and flowers are vividly in bloom.

The forty works on display, organized in a juried show by the Center for Photography at Madison, “honor the tree and its beauty” and cover all four seasons in a wide range of styles, formats and points of view. But I was surprised by how many artists turned their attention to wintertime—to leaves edged in frost and dark branches snaking across a pale sky—and seemed to find immense inspiration within the season.

In Oak Leaf in Snow (shown above), for instance, Michael Anderson hones in on a fiery orange leaf sticking out of a blanket of snow. The leaf casts a long shadow on the particular kind of sunny day that only seems to occur in winter. Dorith Steinberg’s Snow Tree, Weeds is quieter scene of a rough tree trunk and a few brown weeds poking up from snowdrift. With a palette of brown and white, it’s simple yet elegant.

Several photographers capture the glorious colors of fall: Susan Lukas approaches a forest much like an Impressionist painter in Misty Fall Morning, and Ron Wiecki’s UW Arboretum in Fall is as pleasant as the title suggests, with leaves scattered over a road surrounded by trees.

And some works in the shower aren’t season-specific. Tom Klingele’s Four Trees looks up at trees whose branches explode out like fireworks in the sky. Meanwhile, Becky McKenzie’s Drifting (shown right) is an incredible study of bark. The viewer’s eye passes over the pattern and texture in a feeling similar to drifting along waves.

Viewed together, the photography in the exhibition is a thoughtful meditation on trees, nature and the seasons. I left the gallery full of gratitude for such beauty, even—no, especially—during this time of year.

Branch, Leaf, Blossom runs through February 27 at the UW Arboretum’s Steinhauer Trust Gallery. For more information, visit uwarboretum.org/about/gallery.php.

Photos courtesy of the Center for Photography at Madison.

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About This Blog

As managing editor at Madison Magazine, I'm also an unabashed arts enthusiast. Paintings, plays, music, movies—I'm intrigued by all forms of creative expression. I enjoy talking with artists and sharing their insights, challenges, inspirations and latest endeavors. Check in regularly for details on events, previews and reviews, artist interviews and more! 

– Katie Vaughn
Follow Katie on Twitter @katiemv

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