A few years ago, I sat in awe at a presentation by Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the 1000 mile Iditarod Sled Dog race in Alaska. Despite her toughness, Riddles looked and sounded like a perky “Oh, darn, I burned the muffins” Wisconsin housewife, while she talked about getting dragged behind her sled in a blizzard. Frostbite seemed as inconvenient as getting a flat tire in front of a Michelin store.
That same “danger with homey warmth” sensation came to me from the paintings of another Wisconsin native, artist Barbara Kleinhans. Kleinhans uses knives rather than brushes to create realistic abstract paintings of countryside scenes reminiscent of her youth. My favorites are the ones that look like a farm at the tail end of a snowstorm, with a barn, shed or stand of trees in the distance. I am drawn into the scene, and believe “If I can make it to the trees, I might survive and be home for hot soup.”
Kleinhans has several paintings in the Tiny Show, a collection of paintings and other works of art, all less than 7 inches by 7 inches, from 110 local artists. Tiny runs thru Dec 24 at Studio Gallery in San Francisco.
By Phil Gravitt