Midwest Museum of American Art

Elkhart, IN



Diane Tesler: Paintings from the Heartland


East Coast painter Diane Tesler never thought a 1986 trip to her friend's studio in Indiana would lead her to restore first a house and now a prominent 1889 Odd Fellows lodge hall building on Main Street in downtown Kewanna, Indiana. It is from this small town perspective that the world-traveled and Hoosier-born artist creates her arrestingly poetic paintings which are the subject of the museum's exhibit which opened June 9, and continues through Sunday, July 23, 2000. (left: September, oil on canvas, 38 x 40 inches)

Tesler began her painting career in Hawaii, drawn to the quality of light and a compelling subject -- the abandoned cars scattered around the island. These discoveries, and the power of light to reveal form and beauty of the discarded object, have remained a constant in her work ever since. After relocating to Virginia, Tesler joined the now famous Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria where she is a painting instructor at the Art League School. (left: Runaways, oil on canvas, 38 x 64 inches; right: Indiana Flight and Pursuit, oil on canvas, 48 x 84 inches)

Tesler had never been to Fulton County until her trip 14 years ago. Every summer since, the artist has been able to create about two dozen works in addition to hosting students from her Torpedo Factory classes and tending to her own restoration projects. The county's many historic houses and barns have become a favorite subject -- especially the abandoned buildings. What the artist calls "silent places" fill her canvases. The artist has said she is drawn to "the balance of forces -- order with disintegration, dark spaces and sunlight, what is lost and what remains." (left: December Evening, 1995, oil on canvas, 38 x 54 inches)

While the buildings and houses, which have been left behind and often forgotten, symbolize the transitory nature of the life/death cycle itself -- a kind of Midwestern vanitas, Tesler has turned her attention to doing portraits of the living inhabitants of Kewanna as well as beautifully orchestrated still life subjects. In all, the artist's paintings conjure up a nostalgia for small town life in mid-America and a reflective look at Hoosiers in the face of the new millennium. (left: Wade's World, 1993, oil on canvas, 46 x 50 inches; right: Gathering Storm, oil, 15 x 16 inches)

"Diane Tesler: Paintings from the Heartland" is sponsored by the Martin Foundation.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/2/11

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