Abstract painting

Artist Helena Connects Abstract Painting to Landscapes | Arts & Theater

Helena-based artist Sandra Dal Poggetto has opened a new exhibit, “Fieldwork Meditations,” at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture in Missoula to explore the complex connection between a person, their environment, and their landscape.

The exhibit, located in the Meloy and Paxson Galleries inside the University of Montana’s Performing Arts and Radio/Television Building, runs through September 27.

Dal Poggetto’s own abstract works draw elements from the West to explore her own relationship with the land, she said. Some of her pieces include natural elements like feather antlers and animal skin and fur to further emphasize this connection.

“Not only is my work about landscape, but it’s also about being engaged in the long tradition of painting. I was schooled in the tradition of Euro-American painting and I strive to make it sensitive to today’s concerns,” she said.

In addition to her own artwork, Dal Poggetto was also allowed to view MMAC’s permanent collection of 11,000 pieces to choose pieces that she thought would fit well within the exhibition setting. Dal Poggetto said that, like her own art, she chose collectibles that also dealt with an artist’s relationship to the landscape in which they lived.

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Dal Poggetto said that due to space restrictions in the gallery, she was unable to use all of the pieces she would otherwise have wanted.

“It was like a treasure hunt. As my viewing progressed, my selection of what to include and what not to include also changed,” she said.

Brandon Reintjes, curator of art at MMAC, said the four works by Dal Poggetto that are in the Meloy Gallery were so large they couldn’t fit through the museum’s doors. The canvases had to be brought rolled up and stretched once inside. These four are part of Dal Poggetto’s “American Fork” series.

“Because our landscape in Montana is on a grand scale, when you’re there, out of the cities of Montana, it surrounds you. He is above you, below you and all around you,” said Dal Poggetto.

As with his larger-scale pieces, Dal Poggetto uses the feathers of a mallard and the fur of a rabbit on his smaller, more complex works to show the adaptations of the natural world to its own environment.

“Because of the way they evolved in the landscape they lived in, the fur reacted to the climatic conditions. I can see in the fur the color of the ground, the color of the brush, the wind currents in the grass, the movement of the clouds, it’s all in the fur,” she said.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and art critic Mark Stevens will participate in a panel discussion with Dal Poggetto on Thursday, September 25 at the Masquer Theater in the PAR/TV Building. The discussion begins at 5 p.m. and is free to attend.

Reintjes said one of MMAC’s goals is to secure a larger, more permanent space for the museum’s permanent collection, where a greater selection can be presented to the public. For some of the items, if there was space, he would like to have them in “visible storage” where ceramics, for example, could be displayed all year round, as they are not adversely affected by the air and light.

“Audiences only see a small percentage of it, and it tends to be the same percentage over and over. Ninety percent is stuff we’ve never shown before,” Reintjes said.

The MMAC galleries with Sandra Dal Poggetto’s exhibition, “Meditations in the Field,” are open during summer hours until August 24 from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Friday. Beginning August 25, gallery hours are 12-3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, and 12-6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. The museum is free to the public, with a suggested $5 donation.

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