Barbara Staufferacher Solomon once wrote that “Landscapes are what we think we see as real … Land(e)scapes are what we want to see, dreams and illusions …” Gates goes a step further, proposing via her paintings, that land(e)scapes are the distilled fragments of selected memories of experiences within the landscapes. What was and is real has been subjectively experienced — those events now exist in the irretrievable past. The memories have been introspectively recalled/rewritten/abstracted again and again in our minds, condensed and simplified into pared-down abstractions. Gates proposes that these abstractions are what we recall as memories, our truths. And herein lies the potential for beauty.


Gates has chosen light, color and texture to document and poetically portray her curation of memories spent in the landscape. The result is elegantly organized, luminous and subtly colored “land[e]scapes”. She offers her visually poetic experiences to the viewer as nuanced gradations and sensuous applications of paint, engendering space and atmosphere. Graphite lines lend geometric structure to the spaces while fleeting effects of light evolve within the architectural framework of simple geometric shapes. 

In Snowfall, Gates recalls her memories of an experience of falling snow, of huge snowflakes filling the afternoon sky like feathers strewn from a broken pillow. In Snowfall the underpainting conveys the memory of the cold lavender light, while the pattern of graduating-sized circles represents the memory of being encapsulated by the shroud of snowflakes. Gates’ recollected summary of this experience is portrayed by a visual field blanketed by spheres of snow in diffused afternoon light.

In Gates’ painting Tidal Succession, she portrays a summary of memories visiting and revisiting England’s Jurassic Coast. The “ledges” — sequential, eroded layers of geologic time cast in stone — served as visual safety indicators of the tidal stage as it receded or advanced to engulf the shore. In this painting, Gates’ memories of the ledges are depicted as simple horizontal lines that graduate in size as a visual cue for distance. The color of the water shifts subtlety to represent its depth as it advances or recedes from the shoreline.

In Night Snow in the City Glow, Gates portrays an experience in an unexpected spring snowfall at night while in Whitby, UK. The warm hues of the city lights lent a cozy cast to that night in her distilled memories. She utilizes vertical threads of spheres that graduate in color and scale to convey the cold snow falling softly from the night sky. Dark washes of colors gleaned from her memories of night skies in the medieval town serve as the backdrop. The spidery graphite silhouettes of remembered tree branches seen blowing outside the window hover over the dark wash.


Gates leans on her engagement with her memories of the landscape to provide an intimate glimpse and poignant experience with contemporary landscape painting. The poetry of air and light blend into tangible material — the alchemy of abstraction — as experiences are transformed and coalesce into memories, culminating into elegant, conceptual abstractions that are land[e]scapes. For Gates, her very real experiences within the landscape — with different weather, different light, and flora/fauna/shapes — has become distilled and translated as beautiful, simplified works of art. Shimmering memories of locations visited evoke the abstractions of land(e)scapes.




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