Duet Perspectives in Twin Peeks
The Parthenon | May 19–September 9
WORDS Megan Kelley
Bringing together painter Marleen De Waele-De Bock and photographer Jeff Frazier, Twin Peeks pairs twin perspectives on city and state parks near the Nashville area. The two artists walked side by side in several Nashville staples—Beaman Park, Radnor Lake, Percy Warner, Shelby Park, and Richland, to name a few—and considered ways to depict the same places with their own unique mediums and perspectives.
De Waele-De Bock is best known for her textured, layered style of painting, which shows a strong command of color and surface. Her scenes, which range from figurative to landscape, are expressionistic, with moments of focus that give clarity in the atmosphere and are deeply personal and poetic. In contrast, Frazier is known for his portraiture and compositional strength, creating a visual and narrative prose through pose and body language, with his landscapes similarly cinematic in form. The project asked both artists to use their mediums in new ways, using their particular approaches to document specific scenes and subject matter almost as nonfiction vignettes.
The complexity of the concept goes deeper than just the surface, however. The exhibition is as much about two processes of thought as it is about two methods of approach. Though the place and images chosen for depiction happen at the same moment—the two artists vying side by side for locations and concepts—the work itself branches in front of and after this moment in time.
For Frazier, much of the work happens onsite or even before. He walks often in the parks and describes the habit as a familiarity that allows him, in photography, to remain entirely present in the moment. For the multiple exposure method, such presence and attentiveness is crucial. “None of the exposure work happens in post; it all happens on-site, in the camera,” explains Frazier. The first image provides structure, the shadows within that image creating the space for additional images to overlap. The focus of the following images is intent on capturing texture, atmosphere, and “the quality the place wants to impart,” layering the impression of space into the medium and moment. Prior to choosing the exact location shots, Frazier must consider every element he wants to include. “It requires you to be really engaged and present at the scene. You can never get the same moment twice.”
“That process of negotiation occurs when you have two sets of perspectives. It’s good for artists.”
For De Waele-De Bock, the work diverges forward from the moment of choice. Though she also takes photographs on-site, these serve more as notetaking methods than points of reference. “It is a starting point, and then I go my own way.” She begins with an abstracted background completely separate from the photo reference, engaging the process of painting as its own being before moving into depiction. Her work then spends additional hours in the studio, pulling from her memories of place and the needs of the painting before her, engaging layers and layers in her quest for recreating the spaces. The work is poetic yet realistic, constructions of memory even as they are reconstructions of specific place.
The differences led to many conversations around the intention and construction of each of the scenes. “I usually work by myself; I like to work from my own ideas,” says De Waele-De Bock, “and now I worked with someone else, conversing with someone else’s ideas, trying to find my own. I resisted at points, but now they are some of my favorite paintings. Ultimately, it is a show about trust.”
“We are two artists pretty passionately engaged with these locations,” Frazier agrees. “That process of negotiation occurs when you have two sets of perspectives. It’s good for artists.” The final choices led to places and depictions that surprised them both.
“I expected to see differently,” De Waele-De Bock notes, “but in the end, we are both drawn to the organic structure in these moving forms, landmarks as defining moments, and that universality of space.
“This show reflects every moment between two people asking the same question. You wonder, do we even see the same color, the same thing that catches us first? We are drawn in different ways, and yet we arrive in these places together.”
Twin Peeks is on view in the East Gallery at the Parthenon from May 19 through September 9, with an opening reception on Friday, June 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/ Parthenon.aspx. See more of the artists’ work at www.marleensartgallery.com and www.jefffrazier.com.