The Rapidian

Sheryl Budnik's relentless landscapes on view at Forest Hills Fine Art Center

The painterly landscapes of Sheryl Budnik are on display at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center through June 12.
Sheryl Budnik, Rhythm of Surf, 12.25"x 8.5", oil on linen canvas mounted on birch panel

Sheryl Budnik, Rhythm of Surf, 12.25"x 8.5", oil on linen canvas mounted on birch panel /Sheryl Budnik

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The public is invited to the reception of Sheryl Budnik's exhibition of new landscape paintings at the Forest Hills Fine Art Center, Thursday May 23, from 6-7PM

http://www.sherylbudnik.com/

Sheryl Budnik, Red Beach at Night, oil on canvas, 20"x20"

Sheryl Budnik, Red Beach at Night, oil on canvas, 20"x20" /Sheryl Budnik

Sheryl Budnik, Night Sky Over Ocean, oil on panel

Sheryl Budnik, Night Sky Over Ocean, oil on panel /Sheryl Budnik

It is exceptional to see landscape paintings that are as moving as those by Sherly Budnik. The landscape is a popular subject in general, because everyone has some basis from which to contextualize it, and so it is relatively easy for the viewer to understand and appreciate. Budnik’s paintings are surprisingly challenging because of their dynamic, thickly painted surfaces, and disorienting compositions. You get the sense that she has something important to say, but she’s not going to spoon feed it to you.

There is a curious play of space within her works. Since she typically does not include anything within the composition to indicate scale, like a figure or building, the viewer has a difficult time knowing where he or she is situated in relationship to the setting. Furthermore, those subjects that you intuitively expect to be open and expansive like a seascape, often feature forboding atmospheric effects (see "Red Beach at Night" on right), and those subjects that are traditionally inviting, like an orchard, squeeze out the sky and compress the space.

As an example, consider Budnik’s night scenes compared to Vincent van Gogh’s "Starry Night." Van Gogh's swirling stars contrast with the still village below. There are a few cottages with lights, which reassures us that someone else is awake and witnessing the celestial anomaly. By contrast, the stars in Budnik’s "Night Sky Over Ocean" (illustrated at right), look like embers or brimstone, which could plummet from the sky without warning.

Budnik’s paintings are informed by a romantic sensibility like those of the 19th century British artist Joseph William Mallord Turner, but Budnik's are not in the least bit sentimental. Based on her subjective experience and interpretation, they serve as metaphors for universal human experiences, resulting in images that are not fixed or limited to any one place.

Sheryl Budnik's paintings are on display through June 12, 2013, at the Forest Hills Fine Art Center, 600 Forest Hill Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, 49546.

Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Admission is free. 

You can meet the artist at the reception Thursday, May 23, from 6-7 p.m.

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