New work by Vivian Gladden and Katrina West

Almost every downtown youth has spent some time playing at the O’Bannon Old Northside soccer fields whether through Tab Rec soccer, Herron High School, Indy Parks, or just meeting up with friends. Those soccer fields were a source of inspiration for Vivian Gladden and Katrina West, friends and fellow Indiana Plein Air Painters whose newest works hang in the City Gallery this month.  Paintings of historic neighborhood homes and schools play alongside views from the Fall Creek bridge and a glimpse of the downtown skyline from our favorite “urban sledding” hill (a highway embankment). I’ve enjoyed meeting these delightful women this week.


King Park Highway Ski Hill, Vivian Gladden

Vivian’s work is dreamy and muted, with a palpable sense of season. “Working in oil and pastel describing nature and objects in a naturalistic-impressionistic style, my influence is the weather, trees, atmosphere and lay of the land,” she says. “I hope to capture the vanishing countryside and share a concern for the beauty of ordinary things.” Her paintings are full of those “ordinary things” we see on our walks around town: front porches, doorways, even an abandoned shopping cart.


Looking South on Alabama, Katrina West

Katrina’s vibrant work is a great counterpoint, full of brilliant blue skies streaked with wispy clouds. “I grew up in central Indiana in a rural area and have always felt a great affinity for the natural landscape,” says Katrina. “When I attended Herron School of Art in Indianapolis it was a time when the Vietnam War was ending. The Avant Garde art world was seeking artists who were expressing themselves through abstraction and expressionism. Perhaps it is still so. However after much experimentation I have returned to my roots, recreating the effects of light on the natural form.”

Plein air painters paint “en plein air,” a French expression meaning “in the open air,” particularly used to describe painting outdoors.  Because light changes dramatically by the minute in real time, the artists have to paint quickly, capturing the movement of the sun and bringing an immediacy and freshness to the work. “Each time I make a painting” says Katrina, “there is a connection that resonates between the image and myself.  Every form and reflection of light speaks to me in a memory, in a dream, or a feeling. Coaxing color out the shadows and catching the light at the end of the day is rewarding as well as challenging and it is deeply gratifying after all these years to find that the richness of seeing only grows.”

We hope you’ll dig out of the snow this weekend, come warm up here, and remember that Spring . . . and soccer season . . . will be here soon.