An Animal Unto Itself
HILARY BALDWIN • ANNA ORTIZ
SEPTEMBER 14 – OCTOBER 14, 2018
OPENING RECEPTION FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 6–9 PM
You see, what we're talkin’ about here is an organism that imitates other life-forms, and it imitates ’em perfectly.
—John Carpenter’s The Thing
Plein air painting is a weird choice for a contemporary artist, leading the practitioner dangerously close to being labeled a hobbyist or a "Sunday painter" (a creature that seems to exist mostly in ghost stories for people with MFAs). The impulse to paint from nature, in nature, feels antique, more the stuff of historical re-creation than of the serious contemporary artist. Painters Anna Ortiz and Hilary Baldwin embrace this oddity, taking the constituent elements of plein air, the landscape and the figure within it, as their starting points, their paintings not so much a representation of that landscape as an uncanny encapsulation of the friction between painter and subject. Working in nature, with their subject simultaneously the site of their practice, both artists produce a kind of visionary art, capturing what is present but not immediately recognizable.
Anna Ortiz engages simultaneously with the landscape around her and the landscape of her imagination, populating otherwise pleasant vistas with structures of indeterminate origin and unknown purpose. Even when painted entirely from observation they have an air of unreality, interruptions in landscapes that, despite their beauty, are suffused with a sense of unease.
In Hilary Baldwin’s work, the environment is both a reflection and projection of the self. She observes the natural world not so much to acquire its likeness as to capture the mood of her relationship to it, creating works in which the landscape unsettlingly returns our gaze, mirroring the painter standing in it. Building frame-like extensions for her paintings, she emphasizes their physical presence to the viewer, such that they appear to be reaching out to meet us.
Anna Ortiz (born 1979 in Worcester MA, currently living in Brooklyn NY) is a painter primarily focused on creating uncanny landscapes. Her work reflects on global issues through painterly collapses and constructions. Ortiz received a BA/BFA from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. During her undergraduate years, she spent a year studying at the Louvre in Paris. Ortiz completed her MFA at Tyler School of Art, spending her second year in Rome Italy. Her work has been exhibited at Lesley Heller Gallery NY, Storefront Ten Eyck NY and Galeria Il Polittico Rome.
Hilary Baldwin is a painter in Catskill NY. Her work has been included in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Chicago, Boston, Toronto, and Berlin. She has attended residency programs at The Ragdale Foundation, The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, and in 2014 received a cultural grant from The City of Chicago to attend The Atlantic Center for the Arts, where she studied with the painter Dana Schutz. Hilary has worked with children, teens, and adults as a teaching artist for over ten years, and an artists’ book featuring her series of food paintings was recently published by Soberscove Press in Chicago. She holds a BFA in painting from The Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA from The School of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.