Jennifer Cross ‘Present Tense’

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Jennifer Cross "Coming and Going."

The Arts Center at Duck Creek opens “Present Tense,” an exhibition of paintings by Jennifer Cross in the Little Gallery at Duck Creek, with a reception on Saturday, July 24, 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibit will be on view Thursday to Monday, 2 to 6 p.m., through August 29.

“Present Tense” features work that Cross began in 2020, and records the artist’s state of mind while isolated in the studio during lockdown and in the months following. Propelled by what she describes as “a tide of losses and an acute awareness of the present” the works “record my shifting, unmoored state of mind during this time.”

Excavated from old sketchbooks and observational drawings of objects in the studio, the images depicted in these works are painted in thinly veiled washes of color. Cross’s process has always involved building up, wiping out, adding and subtracting. This play between solidity and fragility, gravity and disintegration, were directly related to the visceral response she had to the flood of news reports and toxic politics surrounding the pandemic.

These contrasts can be seen in the painting “Coming and Going,” a meditation on regeneration and the cyclical nature of things. The landscape, painted in various shades of blues and yellows, depicts small figures which move across a steep sloping mountain on the left, close to the abyss of calm blue/white sky. Curvilinear lines delicately connect these disparate spaces, their movement signaling a process of transformation.

“Landscape 2020,” a small oil painting displayed in an open wooden box, includes a single slender tree clinging to the ground in a windswept terrain. The red brown earth and tree are contrasted to an iridescent pastel sky. Barely discernible floating figures populate the painting, and again, movement unites the sky and earth, conveying feelings of melancholy, longing and hope.

Jennifer Cross has lived in Springs since the 1980s. She earned her BFA degree from the University of Minnesota and her MFA degree from Pratt Institute. Her work has been exhibited on the East End and in New York City, most recently at MM Fine Arts in Southampton and Tripoli Gallery in Wainscott. Her work is in the collection of Guild Hall Museum.

The Arts Center at Duck Creek is at 127 Squaw Road in East Hampton. Visit duckcreekarts.org for details.

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