Michele Harvey is a painter who spends at least part of her time in a studio in upstate New York.
Her paintings of the area are large in scale, rich in detail and texture and often have an air of quiet mystery. Trunks or crowns of trees, sharply focused in the foreground, frequently are set against backgrounds in which more distant parts of the landscape gradually dissolve into mist or fog, inviting the viewer to step forward into the image in search of more visual treasures to be revealed.
In some ways the two images I’ve chosen to show here are atypical, but I happened to find them particularly compelling.
Harvey also does severely horizontal landscapes with broader views, as well as a series of triptychs. The latter sometimes are of three directly related images, but often have a central image flanked by two images closely related to each other, but different in composition and tone from the central image. In those there is still a relationship between the center and side images, perhaps suggesting that they are different views from the same spot, or just scenes from the same area on the same day.
The fact that they prompt questions is part of the appeal of Harvey’s paintings. Even in those in which the focus is sharp and the color brighter, there are suggestions of questions to be answered and mysteries to be explored, if only one could step into the painting and walk down the offered path.
Harvey’s work is currently on exhibit in the area where may of her pieces are set, near Cooperstown, New York.
The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown is showing Watermark: Michelle Harvey & Glimmerglass from now until December 31, 2010.
Glimmerglass is a state park in the area, and is on the banks of Ostego Lake, which was the “Glimmerglass” in James Fenimore Cooper’s series of novels, Leatherstocking Tales.