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Allegory, Icon & Metaphor: Works by Frostad, Waddell & Weber

August 6 - October 31, 2005



(above: Arin Waddell, View of Two, 2003, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches)


The Holter Museum of Art paired three painters from around the region in Allegory, Icon & Metaphor. Arin Waddell, Stephanie Frostad, and Cathy Weber all reference the history of allegorical and still life painting, employing a visual language that is rich with nuance, subtlety, and often humor. Their work puts a new twist on the visual and literary traditions of:

Using allegory, icon, and metaphor, Waddell, Frostad and Weber compose still lifes of found objects that weave sharp and cunning narratives-meditations about the current state of the political climate, thoughts on relationships, and resolute responses to the world surrounding them. (right: Stephanie Frostad, The Third is Not Given, 2005, oil on paper, 6 x 8 inches)

Arin Waddell's paintings describe internal and external relationships in which everyday objects -- such as chairs, poppies, pencils, and daffodils -- are used as icons to create unexpected juxtapositions, often with whimsical results that please the eye while challenging perceptions. All of these visual relationships are elegantly painted and set against an indefinite, neutral background where human presence is suggested, rather than explicit. The images are animated with animals and insects, which are depicted in the same calculated and humorous way as the objects surrounding them. The real presence felt here is of a deep mystery, where all these parts add up to an uncertain whole.

Waddell was raised on a cattle ranch in central Montana and currently lives in Dayton, Wyoming. Many of the objects that punctuate her work are taken from the rural ranch setting where she lives and it is possible to partially reconstruct her life by viewing the images in this exhibition as a whole.

Cathy Weber embellishes her rich surfaces with symbols drawn from medieval manuscripts and book plates, a painted collection of feathers and skulls, as well as her own complex lexicon of imagery. Weber's life is reflected in her work. An itinerant collector, Cathy infuses her warm personality into her subject matter-still life materials including rocks, twigs, pieces of animals-which are humble collections of detritus that fill her studio. The pieces in this exhibition mark her return to oil painting, whose robust surfaces complement the emotional impact.

In Weber's work, there is always an internal dialog that tells a story, often just below the surface. She is a consummate craftsman and the pieces reflect her confidence in handling a wide array of materials and forms-from artists' books to illuminated manuscripts, intimate watercolors and beaded miniatures-by which she fluidly blends the figurative, the narrative, the written word, and the unspoken. Weber grew up in the Midwest and moved to Dillon, Montana, in 1981.

In contrast to the visual abundance of Weber's work, Stephanie Frostad's paintings offer spare images whose dramatic force comes from the charged relationships between the specific objects depicted. Her sensitive, mysterious, and sometimes melancholy work leaves the viewer to fill in the blanks. These paintings, a new body of allegorical still lifes created for this exhibition, are a departure from Frostad's haunting landscapes and figurative narrations. She elegantly tackles visual puns, romantic metaphors, and political savoir-faire while forcing the viewer to take an active role in completing the conceptual equation of the piece. The images come from her experiences and are left purposely open-ended for interpretation. Frostad likes to "present the essential elements of a story: a character or two, a sense of place and time, a moment of contact, conflict or contemplation. keep[ing] the spectrum of interpretation broad, and leav[ing] room for viewers to insert their own perceptions and experience."

Frostad, originally from Walla Walla, Washington, now lives in Missoula, Montana.

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