Upon walking into the room you first notice two large, very different landscape images on the walls to the right and left. Though one is of a vineyard and the other of a dusky Hawaiian horizon, the lines and shadowing are soft and exhibit a unique textured feeling.
Sacramento-based pastel artist Kristine Bybee, who graduated from UC Davis in 1974, captures the simplistic beauty of not only Northern California and Hawaii but also Italy and Death Valley in her exhibit “Blending Time and Place,” which is currently on display at the Pence Gallery at 212 D Street.
Pastel work is normally done on a paper surface, but Bybee chose to work with linen for the pieces “Ironstone Vineyard” and “Hawaii” – a decision that frees the work and allows the viewer to experience it without a glass barrier.
“Getting large paper is hard and I wanted to experience working on big spaces,” Bybee said.
Bybee commented that she wanted to provide a feeling of intimacy, taking away the usual “windowed out” feeling of backlit, framed pictures.
“You can almost get up and touch it,” she said.
Due to the rough surface of linen, Bybee noted that she had to go over the piece and use extra pigment, giving the linen a rough, flakey appearance that indeed brings forth an urge to feel the different textures for yourself.
Bybee worked on the project for part of 2007 and most of 2008, and her landscapes feature scenes that are often overlooked – far from classic monuments and historical views. She captures the smallest details like the vivid rust colored dirt in “Tuscan Vineyard,” or the uneven brickwork in an Italian alley in the simplest ways; the subtlety of a single color or an architectural tool makes you pause and give the painting a second look.
When considering her landscape choices, Bybee said, “I do look for situations that will be impactful to the viewer that have an energy or message beyond the everyday … not tourist art, but more of an emotional experience that I want to carry through.“
As an alumna who experienced “the heyday of the art department,” Bybee truly takes pleasure in creating her art, highlighting the use of pastels as truly impressive art form, accomplishing what a paint brush or pen never could.
“Blending Time and Place” is on display now through Feb. 28 at the Pence Gallery. The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit pencegallery.org.
Text by Elena BuckleyPhoto by Sanjana Chand