A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
Mar 6, 2012
02:00 PM

Flower Power

Flower Power

Mary Kay Neumann with some of her watercolors. SEE MORE PHOTOS IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.

When you look at Mary Kay Neumann’s watercolors, you’re swept into a world of color, motion and lush nature.

The Madison artist creates vibrant, beautiful scenes. So would you be surprised to know her most recent paintings draw inspiration from the political turmoil of the past year?

Perhaps not if you take a closer look at her vivid flowers. There’s expressiveness, certainly, but also an edge, a sense of anger or a feeling of conflict in some paintings.

“It’s about struggle and about freedom,” Neumann says of her recent work. “Some of these flowers are having a struggle.”

Neumann, who’s also a trauma therapist with an office downtown, has been following the Capitol protests closely since last February. A year ago, she began making a new series of paintings based on what she was seeing and feeling.

“There was a sense of urgency and even threat,” she says.

Neumann is showcasing just under twenty of the works in a new solo show, Art Still Has Truth, Take Refuge There, at PilateSpa, a private studio on Atwood Avenue. The title comes from a quote by Matthew Arnold, a nineteenth century poet.

Visitors who come to the studio for Neumann’s reception on March 24 (or by appointment March 19 through April 30) should recognize titles of the paintings even more easily. Get Up, Stand Up and There Must Be Some Kind of Way Out of Here and HOWL are the names of a few of her politically and emotionally charged works.

“This is what it felt like to be at the Capitol, screaming in winter,” she says of HOWL, a scene of a sunflower with curling petals bracing before a turbulent blue sky.

Neumann will reveal her new work as well as nearly a hundred smaller pieces. And she’ll donate ten percent of all art sales to Options in Community Living, a group that provides residential services to adults with developmental disabilities.

Neumann’s goal for the show is to bring people together regardless of personal politics. She hopes art can be an avenue for finding inspiration and understanding. 

“I don’t want it to be divisive,” she says. “This is very political to me, but I want everybody to be able to take refuge in art.” 

Art Still Has Truth, Take Refuge There runs March 19 through April 30, with viewings by appointment (email marykay@mknart.com). An artist’s reception, open to the public, is March 24, 5–9 p.m., at PilateSpa Studio, 2045 Atwood Ave., Suite 107. For more information, visit mknart.com.

Photos courtesy of Mary Kay Neumann.

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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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