David Ligare at Winfield Gallery June 3rd – July 5th

David Ligare’s and John Steinbeck’s visionary California is lush, edenic and pastoral. But the pastoral is a tricky designation. Traditionally, it signifies cultivated and harmonious space between wilderness and civilization. When the world is too much with us, the pastoral soothes. Cultivated nature restores sanity. We bend our knees. Find solace. To look at a Ligare painting seems an act of sanity, just as reading Steinbeck’s descriptions of the land connect us to the haunted beauty of Central California. Even when California hills are bathed in late afternoon light—Ligare’s favored time– change hovers. Steinbeck’s narrative is Ligare’s vision: we gaze longingly at the ideal, knowing it’s elusive, that light fades.

Both Steinbeck’s and Ligare’s California landscapes are sharply etched and deeply felt. This matter of seeing is no mean task, for it involves a kind of double vision; keen sight and insight. Artist and writer pay rapt attention to the changing colors of California hills–tawny, golden, sear. Both love “dumpling summer clouds,” “round comfortable oaks,” and hills “bathed in pale cold sunshine.” Ligare’s paintings capture his own “wonder of light on an object.” Steinbeck’s Cannery Row is a place that exists in the “hour of pearl,” a time between darkness and dawn, a time bathed in mystery.

In a Ligare painting and a Steinbeck novel, the perceiving eye and the human heart are joined so that familiar landscapes and ordinary light are transformed, our own understanding of place reconfigured.

—Susan Shillinglaw,
Author of Carol & John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage

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