REVIEW OF LAURA JACOB'S SOLO SHOW "FOUND IN NATURE" AT HAYLEY GALLERY
By Peter Tonguette / For The Columbus Dispatch
Posted May 5, 2019 at 4:45 AM
“Found in Nature” continues through May 14 at Hayley Gallery, 260 Market St., Suite B, New Albany
As a child growing up in Euclid, Ohio, a city on the shores of Lake Erie, Laura Jacob considered herself a treasure hunter of sorts.
“I spent every day in the summer of my youth going down to the lake,” she said. “We would go down to the beach and collect little stones and look for glass.”
Now, as an artist specializing in encaustic paintings utilizing a blend of hot wax and pigments, Jacob has put the items she has gathered to good use.
“Found in Nature” — a striking solo show on view at Hayley Gallery in New Albany — features paintings that are studded with a whole host of items, from beads to book pages and dried botanicals.
“There might be threads that I’ve collected from my grandmother’s sewing notions,” said Jacob, a resident of Lewis Center. “Really, anything is up for grabs — anything that I see throughout the years, even things I’ve collected on a walk with my daughter and my dog.”
“Carried Away,” for example, uses acrylic paint and dried botanicals to present an idyllic landscape scene. A blue sky speckled with hints of white clouds lingers above, while an area of grassland dotted with actual painted flowers captures our attention below.
Meanwhile, in the encaustic-mixed-media-on-canvas “Through the Trees,” passages of barely decipherable text — taken from book pages — emerge behind a row of barren birch trees, the branches of which are weighed down with icicles.
At a glance
• “Found in Nature” continues through May 14 at Hayley Gallery, 260 Market St., Suite B, New Albany. Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Call 614-855-4856, or visit www.localohioart.com.
In the charming “Oh Dear” — an encaustic-mixed-media-on-wood — a deer stands proudly in a clearing in the woods, but attentive viewers will notice that the animal’s skin consists of cut-out text. One line visible to the naked eye contains the evocative phrase “memories of autumn.”
Viewers who carefully scrutinize Jacob’s work will find hidden dimensions in works of superficial beauty — which is the artist’s intention.
“How does nature mirror our lives?” she said. “People show what they want on the surface, and there’s so much more going on below.”
In several pieces, Jacob focuses on the root systems of trees. In the encaustic-mixed-media-on wood “Of Earth and Sky,” a spindly tree is seen above ground while its thick, tangled roots grow uncontrolled beneath the ground.
The precariousness of nature is presented in the encaustic-mixed-media-on-wood “The Nature of Living Things,” which shows two trees tilting near the cliffs on either side of a cavernous valley. Ornamental grass tips are included near the bottom of the work, but its sad, lonely flavor is enhanced by the burnt-orange tone of the sky above.
More straightforward in its pleasures is the encaustic-mixed-media-on-wood piece “Splendor,” which presents a tree with white foliage — snow, perhaps? — onto which dabs of gold and silver leaf have been scattered. The tree, surrounded by a kind of green aura, has a wonderfully regal presence.
Jacob may play treasure hunter in seeking objects for her work, but after viewing this exhibit, central Ohio art aficionados will surely recognize that the artist herself is the real hidden treasure.