Section: Arts

Landscapes & Crosses is a homage to the Ohio landscape

Landscapes & Crosses is a homage to the Ohio landscape

New Jerusalem (2018) | ANNALIA FIORE

After the departure of the Matter + Spirit exhibit, Schnormeier Gallery now features Landscapes & Crosses, a collection of pastoral works created by retired Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU) art faculty member Jim Hendrickx. The exhibit will remain at the Schnormeier Gallery through Dec. 8. 

The Schnormeier Gallery inhabits the first floor of the Buchwald Center, an MVNU establishment located in downtown Mount Vernon. The Buchwald Center provides classroom space for MVNU studio art majors, as well as gallery space open to the public. In many respects, the Schnormeier Gallery is the MVNU counterpart to Kenyon’s Gund Gallery; both spaces feature professional exhibitions and student work, providing an opportunity for students to engage with work from both within and outside their local community. 

The Landscapes & Crosses exhibit is an opportunity for Kenyon students to become familiarized with the Knox County art scene and consider the effects a rural setting has on the artist’s life. Hendrickx, raised in upstate Minnesota, was interested in landscapes from a young age. When he came to MVNU as an art faculty member, he drew upon the pastoral landscapes of Knox County as inspiration for his collection. 

In his artist statement, Hendrickx reflects on the influence rural Ohio had on his work. “The paintings you see here come from my fascination with the landscapes of Knox County. Jan, my wife and collaborator, and I often enjoy driving around in rural Knox County. There is much beauty to behold. This collection of small paintings reflects, in a whimsical and abstract way, what I see and feel about the landscapes and Knox County rural life,” he wrote. 

Hendrickx’s collection is a homage to rural Ohio life; pastoral scenes and recycled household items find their way into almost every frame and sculpture. The Landscapes & Crosses exhibit demonstrates his strong connection to Knox County and how the spiritual and artistic mind can flourish in even the most remote places. 

In his landscapes, Hendrickx uses bright pastels to paint fields of soybeans, lazy cows grazing in fields and lonely silos set against backdrops of streaming clouds. The effect is cheerful and strongly reminiscent of country folk art. In Knox County Underground, Hendrickx depicts the sweeping farm fields with egg tempera, a fast-drying paint containing egg yolk. He then imagines the layers of earth and sediment lying beneath the fields with bright blue and yellow strokes. This method breaks landscape and soil into respective blocks of color, resulting in a minimalist product. 

In Knox County Stripes, Hendrickx depicts an empty freeway stretching toward distant mountains. Zebra-striped fields flank either side of the road — a distinctive and perhaps odd way of depicting the farm fields, and yet, surprisingly effective. Hendrickx’s eclectic way of using color calls to mind Van Gogh’s work, and in particular The Sower, where the sky is painted a vivid, psychedelic green. 

Landscapes & Crosses also includes a set of wooden crosses carved from discarded junk wood. In Confessions, Hendrickx’s sculpture cross is a montage of various wood pieces: recycled clothespins, slabs from packaging boxes, etc. “The crosses represent my conversation with God. They come from my eventual acceptance of the imperfect, incomplete, impermanent and the broken. In the disparate, discarded wood pieces that have coalesced into the cross format, I find that their aged quality and traces of lost function speak to these conditions in life,” Hendrickx wrote. 

This Friday, the Schnormeier Gallery will hold a gallery talk on the exhibit at 5 p.m. A reception will follow from 6 to 8 p.m. Visiting the Schnormeier Gallery exhibits and attending events there are easy ways for Kenyon students to connect with the Knox County community by getting acquainted with local artists’ work. The Knox Area Transit shuttle stops by Mount Vernon Square every hour, and the Schnormeier Gallery is just a couple blocks away, located conveniently beside Mount Vernon’s coffee shop Happy Bean. 

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