When viewing the large scale paintings of Changes: Landscapes by Ida Schmulowitz, there are many underlying stories worked into the fibers and pigments of the canvas. Schmulowitz’s work explores not only the day to day shifts in light and season, but the long term changes that occur in our ever evolving surroundings. The world is in a state of constant flux and the tale of the two landscapes depicted remind us that even the most familiar changes on us even if we’re not paying attention.
When leaving school, Schmulowitz felt a great need to remain tethered to her artistic practice through painting landscapes from the roof of her apartment. This began a lifelong routine of painting from views on high, looking down on the world below. Ida Schmulowitz works outside, laying her canvas on the ground while documenting what changes she observes. When done painting for the day, she drags the flat, wet canvas home, letting the streets of Providence rework the canvas for her. This adds a unique texture to the work that, much like the colors and light of the paintings themselves, cannot be replicated exactly.
Schmulowitz for years used the old pedestrian bridge at India Point as her observation deck and studio space. Forced to relocate in the interim period when the bridge was being replaced, she found new inspiration and studio sanctuary from behind the nearby elementary school. With the “View from Behind Vartan Gergorian School”, Schmulowitz explores the seasonal and daily light changes that mark the land. Yet she also learns the stories behind the greater shifts in the scene, such as the reason behind changes in an awning of a local business.
The “View from the New Bridge” series explores Schmulowitz’s return to her former haunt, but with new perspective and challenges presented. This scene changes much more dramatically as she documents it, with changes to the landscaping and new signage built up during the course of her sessions. It also changed how the public engaged with her as she worked, since the new bridge now has ample room to walk around the working artist. I highly recommend visiting Ida Schmulowitz’s website as it includes a portrait of her working on the old bridge. The image of the artist standing atop the canvas looking out onto the scene before her gives the best insight into this very personal, yet very public, creative process.
This exhibition is currently on display at the URI Fine Arts Center Main Gallery until December 22 (yes, even with the students out of school). Opening Reception is Thursday, November 20th from 5-8 pm.