In a genre awash with cliches, Carol Zastoupil’s latest exhibit of landscape paintings at Community Christian Church is a real delight.
Zastoupil describes her small to midsize artworks as “fantasy landscapes,” which is as good a description as any when combining palm trees, cypresses, large flowering trees and rolling hills in settings straight out of Candyland.
Zastoupil has been a working artist for several decades but has been creating landscapes for only a short time. In a recent discussion, she said she started painting trees more than two years ago. One of her initial inspirations was the work of Charles Burchfield (an American artist who died in 1967, known principally for his landscape watercolors).
In his own time, Burchfield’s work was described as “transcendental” and “mystical,” and Zastoupil’s art can also be seen as visionary. But her oil paint palette, with its pinks, purples, oranges and blues, is very different from Burchfield’s mostly neutral and dark, watery tonalities.
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And where Burchfield’s work has a nervous, edgy feel to it, Zastoupil’s work is dreamy, gentle, even seductive.
Zastoupil’s paintings also feel substantial, no doubt because her imagery is drawn from sites she has actually seen or visited. A trip she took to Cuba explains the vibrant palm trees in such pieces as “Pop Palm” and “Cane Lake Road,” while “Belton Valley,” with its striped fields and rounded trees, could have been motivated by countless plowed acres in the Midwest.
“Wonderland Trail” merges cone-shaped trees with giant orange and white flowering ones that line rounded roads leading into infinity. This work, like much of Zastoupil’s art, appears to be as much a compilation of collaged memories as facts.
“Plains, Pines and Palms” demonstrates that Zastoupil has become increasingly confident pushing the scale of her works, an avenue she seems eager to pursue. But her small pieces, such as “East Passage Way,” which is tucked away in a cabinet that leans on one wall, continue to enchant.
Zastoupil’s art rests somewhere between Kansas and Oz, and I am more than willing to follow her down whatever colored brick road she chooses to paint.
“Plains, Pines and Palms: Paintings by Carol Zastoupil” continues at the Steeple of Light Art Gallery at Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St., through Nov. 30. Hours are 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment. For more information, call 816-561-6531.