Let It Snow

John Phillip Osborne

G. C. Lucas Gallery

Through March 8

Hoosiers have a love-hate relationship with snow. Because we don't get much of it, there's a tendency to overreact when we do - a couple of inches fall and no one dares leave home (grownups) or we hastily dust off our plastic torpedoes and head to the nearest hill (kids ... and some grownups). Unless we get more than a couple inches, neither of these reactions provide much satisfaction; the best we can really expect is a short-lived but lovely panorama. So we might as well just sit back and enjoy the show.

All this brings us to John Phillip Osborne, a distinguished, widely exhibited, frequently awarded traditionalist whose winter-inspired paintings are on view at G. C. Lucas Gallery.

Waking up to snow - sadly, just a little more than a dusting - last Saturday morning, it seemed like just the thing to do to check out Osborne's exhibition, Let It Snow, to get even more out of the spectacular scene outside our window. While "spectacular" may be an overstatement, given our largely staid Central Indiana landscape, we take our beauty where we can.

And Osborne does, too; fortunately, it's all around him. Osborne lives out East, where snow is usually in larger supply; and nature's more dramatic vistas are made even more ethereal. Osborne easily captures the lazy beauty of a snowy slope and partially frozen, meandering creek, or a brilliant red sky lighting up a bank of trees. The artist's palette is almost as neutral as the snow but made alive with subtleties of pink and blue; these are his primary tools for making his impressions come alive. But one could easily imagine an equally lovely rendering of a Southern Indiana hillside - and our Brown County painters give us plenty of these.

Osborne's brush isn't sharp; instead, its soft and light, like the gentle snow that continued its subtle cascade outside the window the day of our visit. It's the light that brings such deceptively neutral tones alive; and this is one of the artist's gifts - the ability to train the eye towards that one point in the composition where light gives the image lift.

Lucas Gallery is known for showing the work of accomplished artists in the more traditional styles: realism, photorealism, Impressionism and the like, and in this overall genre, Lucas chooses well. The surprises here are few, but there's a comfort in well-conceived beauty, and a respite there as well.

Let It Snow, paintings of winter by John Phillip Osborne, runs through March 8 at G. C. Lucas Gallery, 4930 N. Pennsylvania. Call 255-4000 for hours and more information.


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