“Soul of Place: Images Inspired by the Places We Love” -AOM June, Karen Keil Brown and Cathyann Burgess
The Asheville Gallery of Art welcomes June with the show “Soul of Place: Images Inspired by the Places We Love,” featuring the landscape paintings of Karen Keil Brown and Cathyann Burgess.
Karen Keil Brown discovers a delicate balance between earth and sky, realism and abstraction. Her new body of work is a departure from her usual tranquil nature oil paintings. Instead, Brown focuses on nature in motion, applying layers of acrylic paint with a palette knife to create texture and movement within a contemporary landscape composition.
An Asheville native, Brown has been inspired by the mountain landscape from a young age: “I remember being mesmerized by the vast layers of mountain ridges and misty, foggy valleys.” She gathers her subject matter for her paintings from her local hikes and bike rides, whether through the mountains or on the coast.
Brown has been a professional artist for over 40 years, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UNC Asheville and continuing art education at the Arts Student League. She paints full-time from her studio in the River Arts District and her paintings are featured in art shows and private and corporate collections across the country, most recently in the main lobby of the North Tower at Mission Hospital.
Cathyann Burgess utilizes her skills in soft pastels and oil paints to capture stunning landscapes, many of which center on variations of water, mountains, and sky. She often paints outdoors, en plein air, to catch the subtle shifts of light and shadows brilliant in color, even on grey days. When she was isolated from her painting group during Covid, Burgess began creating small pastel studies of scenes within walking distance of her home. These studies served as a valuable reference for Burgess to translate into larger works in oil.
Burgess studied art from a young age, majored in Art in college, and holds a MS Ed in Art from Buffalo State College, SUNY. She came to the mountains of Western North Carolina from her home of New York City after retiring from a 30-year career in art education. In her words, “It was always a dream of mine to reside in a rural setting at some point in my life. I like the open air, the skies illuminated by stars and moonlight as opposed to city neon and the people.” Her work is reflective of this admiration for nature, often capturing the beautiful fleeting moments between weather patterns or the turn of seasons.
After a fulfilling career in teaching, Burgess now focuses primarily on her painting and is a juried member of the Appalachian Pastel Society. She holds several awards statewide for her pastel landscapes, and her artworks are included in private and corporate collections.
The show’s title is directly inspired by the Sufi poet Rupi, who said; “Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.” Brown and Burgess have been deeply affected by the beauty of nature, and their individual interpretations of the natural world make a must-see collection of emotive landscapes. Visitors can view “Soul of Place: Images Inspired by the Places We Love” at Asheville Gallery of Art from June 1-30 (Hours: Wed-Mon 11am – 6pm), with a “Meet the Artist” event on Friday, June 4, 5-8 pm.