Les Yeux du Monde features six artists in a radiant summer show

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"Flatscape III," Cate West Zahl. “Summer Perspectives” and “More Light” are at Les Yeux du Monde through August 20. “Flatscape III,” Cate West Zahl. “Summer Perspectives” and “More Light” are at Les Yeux du Monde through August 20.

Every sunny morning during the summertime, I wake up and stare at the light-soaked leaves outside my window and feel a rush of joy. At a time when most of us could stand a bit of brightness, the sun showers us with one of the happiest forces on earth.

Nature’s hot-weather celebration is the subject of two exhibitions currently on display at Les Yeux de Monde. “Summer Perspectives” and “More Light” each showcase three artists whose complementary works reveal radiance in the abstract.

Isabelle Abbot, who shares “Summer Perspectives” with Sarah Boyts Yoder and Cate West Zahl, explores micro and macro landscapes. In an email, she writes, “Typically, I paint the long view, trying to capture the depth and movement of the land here in Virginia. But for this show I did several pieces that are up-close on different types of local vegetation that I think are particularly symbolic of this area.”

“What if we could see that middle space [between familiarity and strangeness] as joyful and open rather than as a frustration? If we can practice being there our imaginations expand, empathy grows. That’s the point of all art.” Sarah Boyts Yoder

For Yoder, the creation of ambiguous and painterly abstract works is an opportunity to expand not just our understanding of place but our reaction to unfamiliar experience. She writes: “What if we could see that middle space [between familiarity and strangeness] as joyful and open rather than as a frustration? As a place to relax, look around, ask questions, make connections with each other and ourselves? If we can practice being there our imaginations expand, empathy grows. That’s the point of all art.”

Zahl explains that she does not intentionally explore greater meaning in her whimsical, linear works. She focuses on the process as a form of problem solving, in this case taking inspiration from photos of Oklahoma farmland regions taken from airplanes. “I liked the delineations of land and flatness of these aerial views,” she writes. “The paintings are called ‘flatscapes.’”

“Then the Orchards Bloomed,” Isabelle Abbot

In “More Light,” Karen Blair seeks to share the “sheer awe” she feels when she looks at the world. By choosing to distill local landscapes into shapes, marks and colors, “it becomes a challenge to give more to the viewer than just a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional scene,” she writes. “What about wind, heat and cold, birdsong and the taste of iron filings on the tongue in heavy fog? I constantly search for ways to infuse the paintings with this information.”

If Blair seeks to create an emotional impact, Argentina native Ana Rendich paints to extrapolate her own. Her bright, vivid work in “More Light” focuses on concepts such as sanctuary, social change and the never-ending pursuit of happiness.

“I create works to see a better world,” Rendich writes. She says that musing on the human condition helps her connect to hope, history, the environment, God and the goodness of man.

“The Jungle Over the Wall,” Sarah Boyts Yoder

Moving from universal themes to hyper-local scenes, “More Light” includes contributions from Krista Townsend, whose paintings feature familiar spots like the Saunders-Monticello Trail and the Blue Ridge Mountains near Batesville. Ultimately, she writes, “I am trying to capture a sense of place, but the place as I experienced it.”

Townsend, too, considers art-making to be a meditative, therapeutic process. “I paint what I see and feel,” she writes. Immersing herself in inspirational places, she absorbs the movement and color and light of the moment.

“I get to do what I love and I get to reexamine the places that inspired me,” she writes. And, as local art-viewers likewise discover, “I often find things I hadn’t noticed when I was there.”

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