Blink and you’d miss it, and that would be a shame. Frances Gaffney is showing some pieces from her summer residency at the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry Adirondack Interpretive Center now through October 11 at the school’s Moon Library in Syracuse, New York.

Gaffney was stationed at the Newcomb Campus, where she found herself exploring plein air landscapes and melding them with philosophy and physics concepts on her personal reading list. The result is pieces that start outdoors and end inside, in a whimsical place. 

“Rich Lake,” by Frances Gaffney, 2014, watercolor, 15 x 11 in.

“The backgrounds were done outside around Newcomb, in the Adirondacks,” explains Gaffney. “I used them like a piece of stationery, and illustrated ideas on top of the landscapes. They are almost cartoons — I was trying to understand certain concepts, so I illustrated them. They are playful, and they start a conversation. What does it mean to be centered? It’s like a bee over a flower. What illustrates the concept of balance? I painted toy jacks on the peaks of mountains. I went with the first thing that popped into my head. I just let them come to me and didn’t analyze or criticize — I just chose the one that makes a good composition.” 

Gaffney calls them “freewheeling,” but honestly, they seem more ambitious and provocative than much art — and hardly flippant. Read her blog from her residency here. Find out more about the exhibition here.


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