"Barbara Fields Timm and Richard Fields: Stepping Twice

4 Star Gallery

Through May 30

For some artists, being compared to Thomas Kinkade is a stiff sort of compliment: The so-called “artist of light” has institutionalized nostalgic scenes of an idealized yesteryear in a sort of Hallmark Card approach to visual art — mass produced and available at a shopping mall near you. The ironic preciseness of Kinkade’s dreamy impressionism offers a careful perfection, one that ensures appeal to a large audience and, as many artists would concede, promises not to challenge — which may be the point.

Barbara Fields Timm and her brother, Richard Fields, painter and photographer respectively, are not such beasts. Rather, while their art certainly verges on the sentimental, the sentiment stops short of being contrived. Yet a dual exhibition of their work, on view at 4 Star Gallery, begs for such comparisons.

The paintings of Barbara Fields Timm are fully realized interpretations of genuine places, metaphysical ones or some combination of the two. The photographs of Richard Fields reflect his direct approach to capturing what he sees: In large part, these are close-ups and broader views of the natural world and lazily meandering landscapes. But there’s a decidedly light-filled slant to the work of both artists; the world is a place of beauty, and it’s a beauty worth celebrating.

Timm’s “Light Puddles” is delightfully intoxicating and a perfect example of her ken for the fantastic. The painting depicts an actual place, an abandoned limestone quarry near Greencastle, viewed as a network of puddles from a high clearing. The scene is framed by leafy fronds and blue flowers; a tiny snake slithers innocently on a ledge, birds perch on a barren tree, each illuminated by a golden light. Pink and yellow hues shimmer in the sky and are reflected in the water below, transforming this leftover place into one that feels caressed by Timm’s dreamlike interpretation.

This reflects Timm’s expert handling of color and composition, while other paintings are more surreal, and yet accessibly so. In “A Place for Peace,” a golden sun hovers over green mountains, strangely disconnected from them by de Chirico niches speaking to mysterious reaches.

Fields has achieved notoriety for his work as a photographer for the Department of National Resources’ Outdoor Indiana magazine, and his skillful photographs have documented Indiana’s natural places in books such as Indiana Impressions and Indiana from the Air. His inkjet prints are of this ilk: bucolic green fields, insects at alarmingly close range, trees frosted with gleaming ice and big skies and sunsets photographed in brilliant crispness.

And it is here that both artists shine brightest: in the contrasts of light and dark and the illumination of dark spaces that suggest an almost innocent reverence for the natural and the spiritual. By all means, let there be light.

Stepping Twice, paintings by Barbara Fields Timm and photographs by Richard Fields, is on view at 4 Star Gallery, 653 Massachusetts Ave., through May 30. Call 317-686-6382 for hours and information.



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