BOUNTIFUL — Take a trip to the islands without booking a hotel or dealing with the TSA.
Local artist Barbara Dowdle, the featured artist for September at Lamplight Gallery, has created an exhibit celebrating the landscapes and people of the Polynesian Islands. The paintings are soft, almost intimate, offering a glimpse of the island far beyond the tourist track.
Dowdle doesn’t offer the classic representation of a tropical island, with sharply vivid greenery and heat-soaked skies. Instead, the paintings are serene and so cool that you can almost feel a light chill in the air. This is art that could serve as stress therapy for anyone who has had a long, exhausting day at work.
Part of the difference in tone may come from the fact that Dowdle lived on Tonga with her husband and children several years ago. Daily life is always simpler and quieter than the hustle and bustle of vacations. Also, the softer focus of the paintings suggests the subtle blurring of memories stretched out by the passage of time.
Still, there are several striking elements to the works. The mountains in “Morrea Island – Tahiti” are my favorite, solid and majestic despite their relatively minor place in the background. The palm trees in “Kolonga, Tonga” also draw the eye, dramatic movement caught in a few graceful lines.
Dowdle’s daughter, Deon Dowdle Quitberg, is the gallery’s featured guest artist for the month. Though she lived on Tonga with her family as a young child, Quitberg’s sketches reflect a slice of nature far more familiar to Davis County visitors. Still, they share a simplicity and gentleness that echoes her mother’s visions of far more exotic isles.