Sentimental pet portraits and pastoral "farmscapes" are ubiquitous, especially in a farm state like Wisconsin. Craig Blietz and S.V. Medaris take these timeworn tropes and make them new again through brilliant draftsmanship, dramatic scale, sly humor, and their passion for the animals they portray. Both Medaris and Blietz are profoundly concerned about our relationship with the animals in our lives, from domestic pets and backyard chickens to animals raised for milk, eggs, and meat. This personal connection with animals is integral to their artwork, and inspires viewers to respond with humor, awe, and humble appreciation.
Craig Blietz: Agraria
Craig Blietz has been painting cows, sheep, and goats for decades, and his canvases seem to get grander in scale and ambition every year. He begins each new painting with delicate drawings and goache studies, gradually building up to complex compositions that include multiple animals, plant imagery, and graphic elements like fencing and windmills. Blietz's most recent work masses herds of Holsteins close to the picture plane, creating broad swathes of black and white paint that flicker back and forth between realism and abstraction. While not a farmer himself, Blietz is intimate with his rural subjects and knows many of them by name.
S.V. Medaris: Making Marks Great and Small
A painter and printmaker, Medaris is also a visual storyteller committed to creating a new and engaging installation for every show. She often combines large and smaller works to draw the viewer in and create a richly layered viewing experience. Medaris's black and white prints are as captivating as her work in color, and the audacious scale of her woodcuts makes her technical virtuosity even more impressive. As a small farmer herself, raising animals for market in rural Mt. Horeb, Medaris’s imagery reflects her personal relationship with each individual chicken, hog, and goat.
(all images are details of larger works)