|Lawrence Wallin's World of Music by Shirle Gottlieb
Mythic Landscapes by Christopher Newall
Sojourn: Fine Art Photographs of Distance Places by Josef Woodard
Comments by visiters and collectors
that changes the dimensional restriction of four walls."
|Like the Americans John Muir and Henry Thoreau, Lawrence Wallin finds the source of his inspiration in nature. But unlike conservationist Muir and naturalist/essayist Thoreau, the artist who admits to being something of a transcendentalist too, is preoccupied with images - not words.
Stylistically, his land and seascapes are reminiscent of John Constable, who was concerned with the intangible qualities; conditions of sky, light and atmosphere. But his paintings are distilled through a very personal approach to the environment. So the end result is pure Wallin.
Spatial elements are often juxtaposed with a great stand of trees silhouetted against the sunset. The push and pull of surf breaking over the rocks and the tide-splashed shells if crabs, sea urchins and the incredible life that dwells in the sheltered coves and tidelands along the California coastline are subjects Wallin never tires of exploring.
What is it that attracts a particular artist to a particular theme? Is the choice of subject matter inherited from an artistic predecessor , or is it an attitude - an individual way if seeing the world about one.
Wallin is something of an idealist too. "What I’m trying to do is present a world that we can live in. Once there were times I did political cartoons. But in my paintings, I’m dedicating my life to healing the world. I’m trying to show those parts of it I want to survive."
A passionate exponent of ecology and environmental causes. Wallin waxes enthusiastic. "We live in the midst of a silent sermon all the time, so I’m dedicating my life to healing the world. I want my ideas expressed through my paintings. I want to show the wilderness in its healing aspects."
And, curiously, it’s true. The message comes through. In a room, Wallin’s paintings create an ambiance of spaciousness that changes the dimensional restriction of four walls.
Lawrence Wallin’s art background includes Los Angeles Trade Technical College, the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his MFA at Otis Art Institute of Los Angeles County.
And, he is represented by the Bolen Gallery. Among his exhibitions are those of Meridith Hunter Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Bergsma Gallery, Grand Rapids, Michigan;
Louis Newman Gallery, Beverly Hills; the Bolen galleries, Santa Monica and Los Angeles; Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia; Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, Los Angeles and the California Institute of Science and Industry, and many others.
His paintings are in numerous corporate collections including those of the Bank of America; Anton Caratan Vineyards; Oceanside Savings: Wells Fargo Bank; and Rock Resorts, Kapalua Bay Hotel, Maui.
Although the artist lives and works in a home/studio surrounded with tree and gardens in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angels, he goes on frequent painting junkets along the coastlines of Northern and Southern California.
He keeps a strict schedule, working in his studio every day, either painting or doing work-related things.
Lawrence Wallin’s paintings are often a composite of actual land- and seascapes which he has sketched of photographed on his travels. "I know my true function within a society that embraces all of us is to continue and ago-old tradition to create images from the depth of the imagination and give them vigor for a decadent period. We need images of calm for an age that is too violent and images of reconciliation for worlds torn by division. And," he concludes, "in an age of mediocrity and shattered dreams we need images of exuberant beauty."
Betje Howell, January/February 1982
"Wallin’s landscapes elicit the song of the earth."
Southern California artist Lawrence Wallin is primarily known for his bold, stately, realistic and larger than life landscapes. He has worked full time as a professional painter since 1966 when he received his M.F.A. from Otis Art Institute where he studied with Joseph Mugnaini and Bently Schaad.
Most of his commissioned works are in private collections, but two of them hang publicly in the downtown Long Beach Branch of Bank of America. Others can be seen in Oceanside Federal
Savings, Wells Fargo Bank in Palm Desert, Anton Caratan Vineyards and Kapalua Bay Hotel in Maui, Hawaii.
On first consideration the theme of this exhibit, "The world of Music," seems an abrupt departure for Wallin. Then one recalls that the history of landscape painting is full of romantic imagery and allusions that sing to the spirit of man and reflect his love of the land. Music and painting continue to be handmaidens of the Muses, as devoted to them today as they were in the Golden Age of Greece. They just take different forms.
In the tradition of the Hudson River School, which moved across the continent and evolved into California Impressionism at the turn of the century, Wallin travels throughout the Western states capturing the grandeur of nature "en plein air." Now as then, artists are attracted to the special quality of light that exists here.
Big Sur’s "Sand Dollar Beach," "Morro Rock" viewed from a field of wild poppies, "Vernal Falls" plunging into Yosemite Valley, and the fiery glow of the Painted Desert; All these are familiar haunts and fair game for Wallin’s interpretation. "Wagnerian Bombast," wrote L.A. Times art critic Henry Seldis in 1977. Yes, there’s a definite connection. Wallin’s landscapes elicit the song of the earth.
In "Au Au Channel" we find a rich symphonic orchestration of overlapping rhythms that sound the vibrant red/orange/lavender turbulence of the Hawaiian sunset. "Tidal Swirl" depicts the gently percussive swish of lacy white foam as it rushes over scattered rocks making staccato chords. The lingering wail of an Oriental flute seems to emanate from the pale pink "Orchids" hanging over a wall of black lava and "Oceanside Morning" tap-dances down a beckoning jetty into a foggy day.
"Music and harmony bring peace to the soul," said Alexander Pope, "All of nature is but art." The rhythm of life, the still sad song of humanity - there’s something spiritual and uplifting in the mood Wallin creates in his landscapes. In "Afternoon" he sums it up by presenting us with the classical image of earth and sky bound together in a universal hymn of transcendence.
Even his nudes dance, if not in actually than through the formal elements of compositions, Wallin lays out his paintings in strong contrasting shapes of highly intensive sunlight played against rich shadows.
Vivid areas of light flood through the picture plane making stark kinetic patterns as they fall across the figure. To some, Wallin’s work might appear to be photo-realistic. A closer inspection reveals that subtle pre-selected abstractions have created impressions that exude energy, vitality and a clearcut innocent joy of life. Bodies glow from within while reflecting the orange/blue, sienna/gold palette of the sun. The resulting imagery is bigger than life and highlighted by a sculptural quality that is devoid of extraneous detail.
Some of the figures are done in quixotic spontaneous series; and here too the titles have duel connections. "Quartet-- Four Movements." for example, could just as easily refer to music and dance as to four sets of side-by-side impressions of the female form
In "Model Undressing," Wallin shows us ten figures in the continuous motion of removing their clothes. In another painting they put them back on again. Like the breakthrough still photography of Eadweard Muybridge, he illustrates his images all at once in progressive action . It reminds one of "A Chorus Line," only this time the figures are all the same person in a time-sequential activity that can be read like so many musical notes.
In his artist’s book "The Model," he graphically portrays (in lyrical term that include the act of dancing) a day in the life of his model from first arriving at his studio through her departure. A portion of the book has transparent pages where see-through drawings on the back juxtapose(double entendre intended) and dance with those on the front. The technique expressed here is minimal, poetic, and distinctly different from that in his painting. The overall effect is that of a tone-poem.
As for the painting with specific reference to "The World of Music" in terms of subject-matter, they vary in images from chamber musicians through a broad range of dancers, singers, people around a camp fire, three generations seated at the piano and traveling Elizabethan troubadours. An entire series of work is devoted to the theme of a Renaissance Faire.
These Paintings are representational in figuration and clearly illustrated. Strong compositions of bold color once again play up stark contrasts of light and dark. Wallin works both from live models and photographs, sometimes combining elements of several pictures on his canvass. One such work, "Trio," is depicted in the rich warm brown/sienna/bronze tones that seem to bring out the resonant qualities we expect to hear from a flute, violin and cello.
The acrylic paintings on watercolor paper are more graphically designed and crisper in image than his works on canvas. This is due in part to the rapid absorption of the pigment and its bonding with the paper. Wallin carefully tests all his paint in advance to insure the longevity of its color.
"Without music, life would be a mistake," said Nietzsche. There are a lot of musicians in Wallin’s family who obviously agree with that statement. Meanwhile, the artist is busy preparing for his next exhibit which will feature his landscapes and take place in England later this year.
Freelance arts writer and
Art Critic, Press Telegram, Long Beach, CA
|Lawrence Wallin lives in California and paints epic landscapes of the Pacific seaboard and Sierra Mountains. The grandeur and scale of these paintings reveals the fundamental objective of landscape painting: to evoke and describe the beauty of a native land.
Europeans may look for resonances of older traditions in Wallin’s works. Vernal Falls, for example, depends upon a Ruskinian inspection of rock forms and an investigation of the elemental forces of nature; and in Setting Moon the effects of evening light on the ocean remind us of Scandinavian blue painting.
However, these connections with European art may be assumed to be fortuitous as Wallin’s essential purpose is not to see the landscape through the eyes of earlier painters, but rather to create a new repertoire of landscape elements which are as awe-inspiring as the landscape of the New World is in reality.
Wallin’s power of realism is such that his landscapes can mesmerize the viewer. In his two large paintings of the Grand Canyon he has scrupulously observed the vast cleft in the face of the earth, static and ageless and yet seeming to draw into itself the outer atmosphere. Cloud formations stream concentrically into the vortex that is the canyon and the pellucid light of the western atmosphere baths the composition.
In his paintings of the mountains and ocean of the American west Wallin explores a new mythology of landscape, and has created a stage for mysterious and unseen events. The enormity of his vista, previously expressed in the photographs of Ansel Adams and by the film maker Wim Wenders in the opening shots of Paris, Texas is brilliantly described in these large scale canvases.
Wallin’s very remoteness from European painting and the English idea of domestic and agrarian landscape painting makes his work unfamiliar and fascinating to our eyes. He believes in the wilderness as a place of spiritual succor. He has stated: "We live in the midst of a silent sermon all the time, so I’m dedicating my life to healing the world. I want my ideas expressed through my paintings. I want to show the wilderness in its healing aspects."
This exhibition represents an opportunity for people in London to see paintings by a most remarkable Californian artist. Few will be unmoved by Wallin’s vision of the majestic beauties of the American continent.
But, of course, good fine art photography is its own reward, whatever or wherever the subject matter. In the most memorable images of the show, an intuitive process of depicting a scene and a culture and the unaccountable atmosphere of art come together in an unexpected, symbiotic accord.
Josef Woodard in the Santa Barbara News Press, May 25, 2007
|"Artists give sight to those who have been too busy to see. It is a very great gift. Thank you."|
… I loved visiting your website, especially "Mockingbird Hill". Beautiful scenery and good to know there are 'avid gardners' down south. I know there is beauty everywhere, and my upcoming move is an opportunity to look through new eyes as I prepare to leave my northern California home in the mountains.
You have the ability to capture moments and bring them into full living color. People seem to be stepping off the canvas, landscapes invite the viewer into an alternate universe, and I hear music in all your works. Thank you for sharing your vision of this world with us. I am grateful for your dedication to express unwaveringly
Wow! your pictures are great. My family (3 children and 1 fiancee) spent 7 days in beautiful Alaska in 1996 and enjoyed all the natural beauty. My husband and I plan to go back in 2003. This is a state that you just have to see all the splendor yourself. Thanks for posting your pictures.
Lawrence Wallin's art work is alive. We own several of his paintings and a large wire sculpture. His humane view of the world, his almost musical use of color and light, his sense of playfulness--all are captured in his work. These are the qualities that attract me again and again to his art.
When I walked out last night I saw how very beautiful it was high up the hills of Santa Barbara. My eyes faced the silhouette of the mountains against the darkening sky, a trace of the blue still to be perceived. The Manzanita bells hung from the shrub outside [the] door; the native bushes were etched on the horizon as they had been in your painting. I felt the pulse of natural law of this place as different from any other place.