‘Chasing Magnificence’ featured at St. Anthony’s | Arts & Leisure

“Beauty is truth, truth is beauty,” wrote the British romantic John Keats.

The painter Rosemarie Evans names the words of the poet as the philosophy that explains much of her work. Perhaps the close observation and expression of beauty makes us think beyond our limited selves. We can explore these ideas in St. Anthony at the October online exhibition “Chasing Beauty, Finding Truth: Paintings by Rosemarie Evans” in October. (st-anthony.net/the-arts-council.)

After World War II, Japanese Americans leased land in South Phoenix and planted fields of flowers for local and foreign buyers. One of these farmers received Rosemarie to paint on his farm and she became a fixture there. Years later, after state flower exporters took over the market and these farms, the once popular attraction was forced to close.

During this time, the Gammage Auditorium in Tempe hosted “Paradise Lost,” an exhibition of Rosemary’s paintings that honors the richly colored fields that were once there.

In one of these paintings, “View of Camelback”, Rosemarie showed the mountain in the distance for the first time. Then she suggests fields of flowers with thick, energetic, italic brushstrokes. Much like her own signature, the brushstrokes scribble elegantly. Next, a saturated yellow field emerges at the front of the painting, complemented by bold reddish browns, purples and blues of the earth. In this painting, as in all of her work, she “easily gets out of hand”.

This technique, she explains, makes the scene vibrate with movement. Perhaps the truth in this painting is, as William Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Art is long and time is fleeting.” In other words, the fields are gone, but the artist makes them timeless.

For many years “The Farm” in the south of Phoenix has been a popular place for Rosemarie to “hunt beauty”. It has “farm to table” restaurants surrounded by pecan trees, chickens, and fields of vegetables and herbs. Rosemarie exhibited and sold her art there and also taught painting there.

In one of her works from The Farm, “Bring in the Harvest”, she paints an old truck in a lively, strikingly deep blue color. The sky moves and the tree in which she is embedded also lets the tree magically blow into the sky with her brushstroke. Then she shapes a gardener’s shirt with a creamy, radiant white. With curved lines, it expresses the grace of the human body while it carries its load.

In another painting by The Farm, “My Burden is Light”, a gardener takes up the entire canvas, his white shirt bursting in front of a green meadow. He’s carrying a load of flowers over his shoulders. While he is bent over with what appears to be a heavy burden, the artist curiously titled “My Burden is Light”, a title that reflects her contemplative thoughts on this scene, on the burdens of human life, on what it could alleviate. This gardener becomes a symbol and a reflection of human existence: what will lighten our heavy burden.

In these pictures Rosemarie hunted and found beauty, but every time she also has a revelation. A truth unfolds for her as she ponders something beautiful. That happens to us too.

When beauty stops us, we are stunned and think about it for a moment.

The purpose of the St. Anthony Art Council is to create a center for artists, art lovers, and anyone who wants to be part of our aesthetic movement. If you are interested in working with the program, call St. Anthony on the Desert Church at 480-451-0860 and leave a message for Becky Evans.

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