Wylie: Hartman includes human imprint in his landscapes

If you were driving in the Kootenays last year or in 2010 you might have seen John Hartman by the side of the road painting.

John Hartman

If you happened to be driving in the Kootenays last year or in 2010 you might have seen Ontario-based artist John Hartman standing at the side of the road painting one of his watercolours.

However, on really cold days, the artist stayed inside his rental car to paint, in which case, you would have just sped on by him parked in the pull-over spot at the lookout.

For anyone who likes this part of B.C., the current exhibition at the Kelowna Art Gallery of 30 small watercolours by John Hartman, painted en plein air on-site as he followed the meandering and bizarre path of the Columbia River, will be a visual treat. Even some scenes of Kelowna—Layer Cake Mountain, for example—are included, as our waterways here are part of the Columbia’s drainage basin, which covers an area about the size of France.

A nationally-known landscape artist, Hartman happened to be visiting B.C. for family reasons when he began this series of work. He had wound up his major Cities cluster of paintings, which had been on a national tour, and had not yet begun his two new explorations in large-scale painting.

As he visited the towns in southeastern B.C. he thought it would be nice if gallery goers there could see his watercolours of their region. We are pleased at the Kelowna Art Gallery, therefore, that this exhibition will tour to the Kootenay Gallery in Castlegar in the spring of 2013.

Accompanying the exhibition, in our hallway space, is a short video shot by the artist’s son David Hartman, of the artist both on the road and painting the works. It is exciting to see footage of some of the pictures in the show in the process of being painted before our very eyes. Not that if we tried it at home we could get decent results. Hartman makes it look so easy, having internalized over many years of working all the looking and thinking necessary to create such pieces so that they seem to just flow automatically from his fingers as he rapidly moves the brush this way and that over the sheets of paper.

For anyone who works with watercolours or just likes looking at them, this show is a must.

The colours in the watercolours range from cool blues and violets in the depictions of the snowy mountain passes, to bright oranges and deep blacks of views painted of communities down in the river valleys and their associated industrial installations. Hartman does not seek to paint only non-populated spots; he has a great interest in the human element within the landscape. He favours a lofty viewpoint and sometimes the works look as though they were painted from an airplane.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue that reproduces each work in colour. As well as a curatorial essay, the catalogue contains a text by award-winning writer and cultural geographer, Sarah de Leeuw. This essay gives an account of the history of the river, including its First Nations’ creation story.

The John Hartman exhibition is on at the Kelowna Art Gallery until Jan. 20.

Just Posted

Accident at Highway 97 near airport

Fire crews and ambulance officials have responded to the scene

Two escape vehicle fire

Smoke and flames were spotted coming from the hood of a truck on Hudson Road

Kelowna motel robbed, suspect sought

The suspect threatened to harm the lone front desk clerk and demanded money.

Penticton reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

West Kelowna neighbourhood fed up with criminal activity

Prowler frustrating West Kelowna residents

Heavy snowfall expected on Coquihalla

Snow forecast for mountain highways

Annett finishes season on the podium at Ironman Arizona

Penticton triathlete sets new course record on the bike

Cash donations create purchasing power

Salvation Army and food banks stretch a donated dollar a long way

Hergott: A pedestrian’s legal obligation

Lawyer Paul Hergott questions the moral obligation of pedestrians and motorists

Coyotes grab Okanagan boys title

George Elliott defeats Seaton in AA volleyball final, seeded third heading to provincials

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

Last day for shoeboxes at Kelowna Gospel Fellowship

Kelowna church has been gathering gifts for kids in need in countries around the world

Owls soar to Okanagan volleyball title

KSS girls win 4A championship for 12th straight year beating Pen Hi in final

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Most Read