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Archive for Thursday, January 7, 1999

TOPEKA ARTISTS DISPLAY DIVERGENT VISIONS OF KANSAS

January 7, 1999

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"Harmonizing Styles" features landscape paintings by two Topeka Art Guild members.

Two Topeka artists with very different ways of looking at Kansas landscapes will showcase their contrasting styles in an exhibit that opens Friday in Lawrence.

Cally Krallman and Brian Slawson share western Kansas roots and an interest in the state's wide-open spaces. They have even traveled together to photograph settings that may end up in their paintings. But what each sets down on canvas proves there's more than one way of seeing the same thing.

"We'll have several pieces (in the show) that are exactly the same place, but the paintings are totally different," says Krallman, who describes her work as impressionistic landscape painting. "You'll see a little more abstract quality to mine. Even though they are obviously landscapes, they are going to have a lot more abstract shapes and patterns than Brian's."

"Harmonizing Styles: Impressionism Versus Realism" runs through Feb. 8 at Roy's Gallery, 1410 Kasold Dr. The artists will be on hand for an opening reception from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.

Gallery owner Mehrzad Alison describes Krallman's oil and acrylic paintings as "contemporary Impressionism."

"She's close to being realistic but still a few steps away from it," Alison explains. "She tends to generalize subjects more than Brian. If she paints trees, for example, she wouldn't necessarily paint every single leaf and branch. She'd generalize and deal with different shades in order to achieve the depth and the colors she wants. She deals with the shapes of things more than details."

Slawson's oil paintings, which include both landscapes and still lifes, are done in a realistic style that suggests an older influence.

"Some of his still lifes remind me of the Old Masters style," Alison says.

The finely detailed images and soft, subdued tones of Slawson's work contrast with Krallman's vibrant peach and cream colors and bold brush strokes.

For Slawson, who is entirely self-taught, the European painters of the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries were a natural influence.

"Most of what I've learned has been from looking at the Old Masters' work," he says. "It's just what I'm drawn to when I go to museums."

While he tries to keep his subject matter more up to date, Slawson strives to preserve the true-to-life realism of that painting style.

"It's something that kind of got lost, I think. People wanted to be more modern and it wasn't cool to do that anymore. They got away from traditional realism."

Krallman and Slawson, both members of the Topeka Art Guild, have exhibited together frequently. They were part of a Topeka show that commissioned four artists to paint the same settings. Some of those works will be included in the Lawrence exhibit.

"What we have found over the past few years when we go to the same shows is that we have people who either really like his or really like mine," Krallman says. "People tend to really like one or the other."

Both were selected as guest artists for the United Way's Topeka fund-raising campaign -- Krallman in 1998 and Slawson in 1999. As guest artists, they produced limited-edition prints for contributors who donated at least $1,000.

Even though they have very different visions of how to paint, they share an appreciation for the land around them.

"I think to a lot of people that don't take time to look at it, the Kansas landscape looks plain and boring and monotonous," Slawson says. "I think the one thing artists all have in common is we take time to look at things and pick out the things that we find are interesting. I think it's that basic way of looking at things that makes you an artist, not the style of art you paint.

"You know, Rembrandt and van Gogh painted the same landscape," he adds. "They just saw it differently."

-- The Mag's phone message number is 832-7146. Send e-mail to jbiles@ljworld.com.

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