Light is unifying theme in exhibit at museum

Painter Jane Guthridge recalls how Colorado caught her eye after move from Midwest


“We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and darkness, that one thing against another creates.” — Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, “In Praise of Shadows.”

In the introductory comments beginning a catalog of her works, painter Jane Guthridge speaks of sun and shadow and how she works to capture the changing patterns. Guthridge recalled moving to Colorado from the Midwest “30-ish years ago” and immediately being struck by patterns of light — and clouds that cast shadows.

She manipulates materials and light from various sources to create “light forms” that suggest the effects of sunlight in nature — manipulating translucent film, reflective surfaces and color.

Walking into her solo exhibit, “Play of Light: Works by Jane Guthridge” at the Littleton Museum through Aug. 25, has an immediate effect on a visitor — what a happy space this is! Floating installations move gently, shifting shadow patterns and reflections. Other works glow from walls and pedestals — some with intense color, while others present softer surfaces and hues, layered and framed — or freestanding.

At the gallery entrance is Guthridge’s installation “Suspended Light,” with a slender 120-inch rod holding airy, rounded, translucent shapes, strung on slender threads — their shifting shadows playing on a wall just behind them.

Step into the gallery past “Suspended Light” to the right to find another intricately conceived installation called “Reflected Light: Littleton Museum.” Guthridge worked with Littleton Museum curators Moira Casey, Jennifer Hankinson and Kevin Oehler to install her works, adjusting lighting to reflect color, some mirrored surfaces — and of course, shadows — all constantly shifting.

Freestanding sculptural works are called “Kamorebi,” described as “an untranslatable word that captures the effect of sunlight streaming through the leaves of trees.” They are made from highly polished steel, painted on one side, with cut-out patterns. Metal plates are shaped so lighting penetrates each work, affecting reflections and shadows — within and on its host surface.

The catalog shows other iterations of this work at different locations, each distinctive and mesmerizing. Guthridge has cumulative experience that lets her predict the effect when all the pieces are assembled and properly lighted. The “Reflected Light” for instance, especially changes with each location.

Framed works include precisely cut pieces of Dura-Lar translucent plastic sheeting layered over colorful encaustic and archival inkjet prints on mulberry paper (textured paper, handmade from mulberry bark, widely used by artists for prints, collages, watercolors and other artworks).

One can view the exhibit as individual pieces and as a cumulative, sunny, whole experience. Certainly, more than one visit is in order to process it!


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