Opening Reception for Shane McAdams and Tom Berenz


Opening Reception for solo exhibitions by Tom Berenz and Shane McAdams at James Watrous Gallery (201 State Street, 3rd floor, Madison, Wisconsin).
Monday, March 7 from 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Towards the North
March 18, 2016 to May 8, 2016
“I explore the in-between space that is neither real nor artifice, still-life nor landscape, natural nor artificial, messy nor clean, flat nor deep, and dynamic nor static.” -Tom Berenz

Tom Berenz's current paintings combine recognizable bits and pieces from ordinary life–playground equipment, mittens and hats, ducks and strawberries–with swaths of color and pattern, piling them together into tight compositions that he calls mounds. Jumbled and disconnected, the busted-up objects in these mounds may be broken, but they are full of life and color. Berenz locates a kind of forlorn beauty in things like melted snowmen, crumpled birthday cakes, or the splintered parts of a plywood “gardening grandma” figure. Folding these random, discarded objects into swirling piles of sharply defined colored shapes, he exploits the tension between realism and abstraction to create taut, dreamlike scenes that tug at the imagination.

Beat a Path, and Make it Fast
March 18, 2016 to May 8, 2016
Shane McAdams’ landscape paintings have an eerie, unsettling quality. For the most part they are centered on familiar, classic scenes—cornfields, wind farms, craggy deserts and mountain lakes—unpeopled and largely untroubled by the weather. But alongside each traditional, finely detailed landscape image, McAdams introduces a jarringly synthetic element. He inserts brightly colored stripes where the sky or water should be, like Northern Lights gone wild, or swirls the clouds into surreal, impossible patterns. Sometimes the synthetic imagery becomes a frame around the landscape, or a layer of texture and pattern through which the scene can be glimpsed, as if McAdams were painting parallel dimensions that exist alongside one another.

This impression of a parallel reality is heightened by McAdams use of obviously artificial, even toxic materials: ballpoint pen ink, resin, glue, and polystyrene. Fascinated by the effects of solvents, heat, gravity, and wind on these materials, McAdams explores the edges of their expressive capacity, emphasizing the contrast between the natural and the artificial in his work.


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