Over the past 20 years, artists Agnes Carbrey and Ryan Russell have consistently heard that their paintings are meditative and comforting to people. Their new works will be featured at Studio Eleven Gallery in Lexington from April 26 to May 31. The opening reception is this Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The close association with nature, which is found in Rockbridge County’s restorative places such as the Maury River, the Chessie Trail and House Mountain, has been a source of inspiration and joy to both artists.
“These special places help us to feel connected and more in touch,” said Carbrey. “We both search for images and metaphors that satisfy us visually, and on the way have found some healing for ourselves. House Mountain, with its woods, streams, animals and springs, and the Maury River from Goshen Pass to Buena Vista, provide an experience of awe and contemplation.”
Water, in particular, as a healing subject creates a unity in both artists’ current work, including the transcendent feelings, colors and sounds of water and its associative calming effect.
The mystery of the human body in water is a metaphor in Carbrey’s paintings as the journey of self-mastery: “When submerged and holding the breath, one can explore below the surface. My figures in water dissolve into abstractions that resonate with emotional and psychological states of transition, resolution, and harmony. “
Russell has been painting water landscapes on the Maury River since 1995. Now he is painting at the spring on Agnes’ property on House Mountain.
“In years past, I have painted many views of House Mountain from the distance. Now I’m exploring the body of the mountain in detail as I make studies at Agnes’ spring. I enjoy the mystery of the water source high on the mountain, as it traverses down the draws, and eventually flows into the Maury River.”
Concurrent with the show at Studio Eleven Gallery, Carbrey is taking the concept of healing journeys to southern France this spring. Her project is to invite passing pilgrims on the Route de St. Jacques de Compostelle into her exhibition at the Ste Catherine’s Chapel in the Port of Auvillar to contribute images and words about their individual journeys to a collaborative work She will be joined on-site by dancer/choreographer Chanel Smith of Lexington, and Halestone Dance Studio.
Paintings by Carbrey and Russell have been chosen to be in places of healing, among them, Rockingham Memorial Hospital and Funkhouser Women’s Center, Augusta Medical Center in Staunton/Fishersville, the Cancer Center at University of Virginia, and Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital.
Both artists have an extensive history of showing and are in collections throughout the southeast. Russell has taught at Washington and Lee University, Beverly Street Studio School and at Studio Eleven. His work is in collections of Eleanor Wilson Museum, W&L and James Madison University as well as corporate collections at Southern Living, Johnson and Johnson, and Warner Brothers Studios, among many others.
Carbrey has shown her work in New York, Philadelphia, Chapel Hill, and Annapolis and in Germany and France. She taught at Parsons School of Design, was formerly director of Olin Smoyer Gallery at Roanoke College and currently teaches at James Madison University.