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Catherine Lo and Debra Yoo at Walker Terrace

A reprise of our April 2010 show, Distant Place/Northern Lives now at Walker Terrace for drive-by viewing convenience!

Diving into an inherited treasure trove of photos taken by her stepfather, Catherine Lo remembers a place and time she never knew. Bestowing a nostalgia on the fragmented record of someone else's life is not a misguided glorification of the past in Lo's hands but more a comparison of life now and then, and an investigation of the sentimental decisions of someone else. The breadth of experience he chose to record struck Lo, from birds to snowmobiles, ice-fishing to cribbage games, and served as a basis for this series of diverse paintings. "I was intrigued by the power of these images to outlive both the fish and the fishermen, retaining their relevance and beauty for decades. And I was also struck by the idea that, in a very simple way, they symbolize a richness of shared memory for many people growing up in the small towns of Maine during the sixties and seventies. You ate the fish you caught, or your sister did, or your neighbor did. Blood and slaughter weren’t as far from the dining table as they are now; red and black plaid had not yet become a fashion statement." Lo's paintings are partly a homage to one particular man, but also a gift to the collective Maine consciousness. The myriad of people that make up the state in 2010 are a part of a continuum that includes many similar stories and images in it's recent past, images that reawaken, remind, and recall.

Debra Yoo approaches painting and place with wide-eyes and no agenda. She says, "whether I look at water, rocks, trees, buildings in the landscape, flowers – it all appears chaotic and mysterious to me at first, an overload of information. Then I set myself to the task of squeezing out an oily colored substance and moving it around on a rectangular surface in the way my hand seems to like moving it around, and slowly finding the kinds of compositional relationships that I always seem drawn towards. When the end result not only has a life and a completeness of its own, but also something essential of what I see in front of me - the light and the shapes of Maine – the painting is done." With a loyalty to the particular glow and scent of a place, Yoo's paintings are sensually striking and evocative. The landscapes are familiar and often include houses and phone lines. They don't erase human life or try to restore nature but they do celebrate the natural environment. The musk of the deep woods is present in the paint, the startling brightness of flowers, and the heaviness of an overcast day.

-Celeste Parke


Catherine Lo, <i>Ice/Fish</i>, 2010, 48
Catherine Lo, Ice/Fish, 2010, 48" x 48", oil on canvas

Debra Yoo, <i>Poppies and peonies</i>, 2009, 14
Debra Yoo, Poppies and peonies, 2009, 14" x 18", oil on prepared paper mounted on panel

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