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'Artists in the Arboretum' Exhibition Comes to Jamaica Plain

With an imaginative group exhibition, the Arnold Arboretum offers a talented preview of this weekend’s JP Open Studios.

Held in conjunction with , “” is a new exhibition of works inspired by the collections and landscapes of the.  

At the opening reception on Wednesday evening, curator Sheryl White praised the exhibition’s diversity explaining that the 21 artists in the juried show contributed pieces in a variety of styles and media.

The show includes paintings, prints, collages, photographs and multi-media objects. While the Arboretum’s grounds and resources were the starting point for the thematic, juried exhibit, White noted that the participants were not obliged to literally interpret the Arboretum but were free to investigate colors and shapes.

Artists Jennifer Burnham, Dr. Regina Valluzzi, John Maciejowski, who are all members of the Abstract Artists' Group of New England (AAGNE), expressed surprise at the somewhat serendipitous occurrence that their work was each selected for the show. 

Burnham’s untitled acrylic painting, she noted, “is not a landscape.”  Painted in autumnal toned browns, orange and bronzes, the work, said the former Mass Art student depicts “leaves in decay.”

“The Edge of Eden,” Valluzzi’s large-scale oil on canvas piece, portrays a luxuriant woods. The Arlington resident, who is a scientist that works in the fields of nanotechnology and biophysics remarked that “there’s lots of chemistry” in the piece,” which was created using dripped colors and turpentine in the background and heavily applied paint in the foreground. 

The abstract artist, who calls herself “the nerdly painter,” said she sometimes creates more representational landscapes to freshen her palate, like wine and cheese.

Maciejowski, who holds the post of AAGNE president, said that his acrylic on paper “A Walk in the Park” was influenced by the Paris painters of the 1920s and '30s, such as Derain and Vlaminck.  

“It’s not a real place,” he said about the view depicted in his spontaneous painting.

“Standing” by JP resident Susan C.B. Hampton is equally abstract. Made with a palette knife, the colorful work, is a painting that had no intention, she said.

"The paint speaks for itself, and the paint has its way," she added.

Roslindale photographer Kurtis Brown contributed two digital prints to the exhibition, “Stony Brook #2” and “Savage Nano Park.” In his work, Brown said, he shows landscapes in miniature, like fractal repetitions.

Other works like Maureen Vezina’s "Lilac Sunday at the Arboretum" portray the natural world in more familiar ways. Vezina’s oil on canvas painting is a gorgeous and impressionistic expression of the Arboretum’s annual flower festival.   

“Under the Maples,” a photograph by Susan Johnson Bergin, shows an elusive sunlit moment in the fall under an illuminated Japanese Maple Tree. 

The exhibition also includes the work of several Arboretum staff members. Longtime JP resident Susan Hardy Brown has worked as a curatorial assistant at the Arboretum for the past 25 years. 

Hardy’s “Tree Piece” reflects her love of nature and her long experience. The graphite and encaustic work is comprised of a series of miniature drawings of branches and leaves. The addition of a real twig, like the botanical specimens that she works with, gives “Tree Piece” a three-dimensional quality. 

Co-worker Betsey Henkels’ photograph “Springtime Exuberance” colorfully captures a pink and green “Smoke Tree” at the height of its hues.

will be on view at the Arboretum’s Hunnewell Building until Oct. 23, and will be open during this weekend’s on Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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