'Long Time Passing' exhibit chronicling farm life opens at Fine Line's Kavanagh Gallery

  • "American Pastoral 06" by artist Roberta Condon of Portage, Wis., is one of the works featured in the "Long Time Passing" exhibit at Fine Line's Kavanagh Gallery. The collection also features work by fellow Wisconsin artist Lorraine Ortner-Blake.

    "American Pastoral 06" by artist Roberta Condon of Portage, Wis., is one of the works featured in the "Long Time Passing" exhibit at Fine Line's Kavanagh Gallery. The collection also features work by fellow Wisconsin artist Lorraine Ortner-Blake. Courtesy of Roberta Condon

 
 
Updated 10/12/2021 5:40 PM

"Long Time Passing" at Fine Line's Kavanagh Gallery is a visual chronicle of farm life in the Midwest past and present. The show is a collection of 52 paintings by artists Lorraine Ortner-Blake and Roberta Condon that focuses on the struggles, joys and challenges of Midwest farm life.

Ortner-Blake presents the familial view of life on the farm through her mother's reminiscences and her own childhood memories on the farm. The intimate and detailed paintings are worked in gouache with a primitive simplicity.

 

The work distorts viewpoint and perspective, and the images speak in a warm whisper tracing solid connections within the family and the roles each member took on.

As a perfect contrast to Ortner-Blake's whisper, Condon's modern abstract works shout out the stark landscape of the Wisconsin farms and fields, presenting richly vibrant pastels in large contemporary splashes of line and color.

For weeks, Condon traveled more than 300 kilometers on the country roads of Wisconsin, photographing rural life and scenes of this region of the Midwest, stopping on the way to talk with farmers. Then, as the COVID crisis required her to stay at home, she closed herself up in her studio with three rolls of UART paper and a good supply of pastels.

Inspired by a book from her childhood, she decided to organize her series like an ABC: 26 works corresponding to the 26 letters of the alphabet. Each one defines a problem confronted by today's small farmers.

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Ortner-Blake and Condon are passionate about their rural history and surroundings and seek to chronicle the past and present to protect the future.

The collection of paintings will be on display from Oct. 14 through Nov. 20 at the Kavanagh Gallery at Fine Line Creative Arts Center, 37W570 Bolcum Road, just west of Randall Road in St. Charles.

On Saturday, Oct. 16, both artists will be at Fine Line to talk about their work and the loss of farm life in the Midwest at 2:30 p.m.

This event is free, but space is limited. Preregistration is required. To sign up, visit fineline.org/pages/longtimepassing.

Following the talk, there will be a reception to welcome the exhibit to the gallery.

Whether you have attended the artist talk beforehand or not, this reception is open to everyone. Both artists will be on hand to meet attendees and refreshments will be served.

This reception, like all gallery receptions at Fine Line, is free and open to the public. No registration is required to attend. It's an excellent opportunity to see the paintings and meet the artists.

The Kavanagh Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is no admission fee to view any show at the gallery.

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