Mount Airy’s Jennifer Long Herrera will be one of the artists featured in the Quinlan Visual Arts Center’s Winter Exhibition. She is excited to present a collection of recent pieces melding local landscapes with her pattern and color filled studio work. Her vibrant paintings will share the Green Street Gallery with paintings and mixed media pieces from Commerce artist Frances Byrd’s Wild Women series. Atlanta artist Ferdinand Rosa’s abstract work will be featured in the main Mansfield Gallery. The hallway galleries will have a group show from the Blackberry Creek Artists and watercolors by Karen Sturm.
The Quinlan Visual Arts Center, located on Green Street, in Gainesville, Georgia was founded in 1946 and has grown to be a comprehensive visual arts resource for Northeast Georgia. The Winter Exhibition will be up from December 8, 2022 through February 11, 2023. The opening reception on Thursday, December 8 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm is free and open to the public.
Jennifer Long Herrera last exhibited at the Sautee Nacoochee Center for the Arts in White County in July of 2020. Unfortunately, her solo show was hung during the height of the pandemic. An opening reception could not be held and traffic through the Center galleries and the adjoining Folk Pottery Museum was very limited. She is hopeful that many who could not attend then will be able to see the current exhibition. Only four pieces from the SNCA show will be repeated as she has chosen to feature recent work created between 2020 and 2022. She is quick to point out other differences between the two shows.
“In my last exhibits I presented two distinct bodies of work. One half was devoted to the plein air waterfalls I painted with limited time and supplies, while the rest was studio work with conceptual themes and imaginary scenes. There was no overlap. In the time since I have been focused on bringing the two together, focusing on what the work has in common,” she explained. “I have found that the contemplative nature of plein air and the emotional and spiritual themes that can be expressed through color and pattern work well together.”
Plein Air is a French term that means “out of doors” and refers to the practice of painting entire finished pictures outside in the landscape. Four true plein air pieces will be in the show. Herrera hiked to waterfalls in Habersham, Rabun, and White counties with paint and brushes in her backpack. She spent 2 to 3 hours sitting at the base of the waterfalls trying to capture not just the beauty of the view, but also the feeling of being there. She found the practice very rewarding but in time it grew limiting. Increasing the size of the paintings was very difficult logistically. It was no longer possible to finish an entire painting on site. The newest landscapes were started on wood panels out in nature but brought home to be finished. She took many photographs to refer to in the studio but found they did not capture what her eyes had seen. As her memory and imagination filled in the gaps these pieces began to resemble the more expressionistic work that she affectionately calls “the swirly ones.” There will be eight of these hybrid pieces featured in the show.
Herrera’s portion of the exhibit is balanced by her strictly studio pieces. The intensely colored paintings provide a less naturalistic counterpoint. Like the landscapes they seek to capture a moment in time, the feeling of a situation or season, but in a more symbolic and fanciful way. “I would say the theme of this show is transition,” Herrera shared, “Not only is there the change in how scenes are handled, but many of the images are themselves a representation of relational and spiritual transitions.”