| For The Columbus Dispatch
Between the coronavirus pandemic and the contentious political season, many central Ohioans may find themselves feeling a bit tired, weary or whiplashed.
The visual arts can help. Whether experienced in-person or virtually, galleries and museums can function as spaces to reflect, relax and ruminate.
Such is the aim of a new exhibit available online and in person at the Springfield Museum of Art. “What Makes Me Feel Safe?” offers a bevy of inspired works plucked from the museum’s permanent collection.
The eclectic pieces in the exhibit — which was organized by two members of the museum’s education staff, Alyson Annette Eshelman and Amy Korpieski — have little in common except a certain quality of contemplation, including loving portraits of parents and children, peaceful landscapes and calming abstract pieces.
Along with some interactive elements, the museum has installed the works in its Art Lab space. For viewers still weary of venturing into indoor spaces during the pandemic, the core of the show — that is, the paintings themselves — can be found on the museum’s website, springfieldart.net.
This review was written based on the online version of the show, which — with its slideshow showing a succession of serene images — achieves the overall aim. Indeed, when viewed online, the exhibit serves as a welcome break from the avalanche of news and opinion that fills most of our computer screens and mobile devices.
Who wouldn’t want to spend a few minutes contemplating the majestic splendor of Theodore Wendel’s oil-on-canvas “Haying by the Brook”? In a soothing pastoral vision, the work shows a winding, shaded stream in the foreground and bushels of hay in the distance.
Equally evocative is Andrew Janssen’s oil-on-canvas “Near Provincetown, MA,” which presents two lone beach-goers walking among the dunes and grasses that border a body of water. Like Clarence K. Chatterton’s watercolor-on-paper “Three Women Sewing” — showing a trio of female figures seated in a garden while sewing — the picture is the very definition of tranquility.
Several works depict parents holding or carrying their children, including Ralston Thompson’s casein-on-paper “Mother and Child,” which stands out for using bold, sharp, chunky lines and solid blocks of color to express the most tender of emotions: a mother’s love for her offspring.
To be among familiar objects and settings can itself be a source of comfort, as evidenced in Alfred Henry Maurer’s watercolor-on-illustration-board “Interior Scene.” The picture presents a woman in 19th-century-style dress writing while seated at a bureau. That the angle of the watercolor does not reveal what the figure is writing — is she composing a letter, writing a diary entry or making a note to herself? — contributes a hint of mystery.
Viewers eager to escape the commotion of everyday life could do worse than spending a few minutes, or longer, contemplating the restful renderings included in this fine exhibit.
At a glance
“What Makes Me Feel Safe?” continues through Jan. 3 at the Springfield Museum of Art, 107 Cliff Park Road, Springfield. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $5, or $3 for students with ID and senior citizens age 65 and older, free for children 17 and younger. The online version of the exhibit is available at springfieldart.net.