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Artists Consider The Nature Of Neglect In Art Ventures Exhibition

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John Womack's watercolor paintings have a mysterious and alluring quality to them. Old barns or other dilapidated buildings on the prairies and back roads of Oklahoma and the Ozarks, often in front of a swirling gray sky, offer glimpses of the lives that were once built around these structures.

"I see [these buildings] as really kind of statements of optimism by the people who built them originally," the artist shares. "Then you look at them now, and they're abandoned and falling apart, and the human story in there is filled with all of these question marks and intrigue."

FAQ

‘Return to Roots — Paintings, Photographs & Nature’s Design’

WHEN — On display through January

WHERE — Art Ventures Gallery, downtown Fayetteville square

COST — Free; art available for sale

INFO — 439-8641, fayettevilleunderground.org

Womack's paintings will be on display at Art Ventures in Fayetteville for the month of January as part of the exhibition "Return to Roots -- Paintings, Photographs & Nature's Design." The contrast of the weathered boards and stone of Womack's subjects with the unkempt landscapes on which they appear adds a compelling visual texture to the exhibition.

"You can tell, too, there's this sense of returning back to nature," Womack says. "Eventually, all of those wooden buildings are just going to crumble and [return] back to the soil, so I find that provocative and interesting.

"You can't help but wonder about the stories that, as they say, if this building could talk. Or if that tree could talk," he goes on. "You'd have this wonderful kind of pageantry of event. But you just have to imagine now what it might have been. All of those buildings also speak to maybe a simpler time because you don't see those kind of barns being built anymore. Today they don't have much character to them."

Womack's pieces are displayed with photographer Heather Chilson's works, which also show the impact of time, and Andy Baugus' wood working, created from indigenous hardwoods.

"Andy's work is this natural material, these beautiful pieces of wood he's sculpted and changed, so it's very of-the-earth there. And then [Heather's] photographs are this kind of rustic story of materiality or fabric of time and that's very interesting. It looks like [the exhibition] fits [together] perfectly."

-- Jocelyn Murphy

jmurphy@nwadg.com

NAN What's Up on 01/05/2018

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