The exhibition explores the parallel use of botanical imagery and motifs with abstracted and geometrical elements in both artists’ work.
Ken Buhler’s work pulls inspiration from wildflowers clinging to the sides of wind hammered rocks, or dotting the muddy banks of streams. Buhler often collects, dries and catalogs these flowers and mines his collection for painterly inspiration. For example, Queen Anne’s Lace, named for the elegant adornments of royalty, graces the side of neglected country roads, with its tiny clusters of detailed half-globes creating a startling overlay of ivory. Working with washes of bold color, meandering lines, stencils, and rubber stamps, Buhler creates paintings and watercolors that feel new yet familiar, revealing a world which is luminous and layered.
In Ellen Driscoll’s ink-on-paper pieces urban plants that thrive in densely populated areas are drawn into allegorical tableaux that speak to environmental change and adaptation. Some of the plants in her herbarium are used for remediation of toxins for both humans and soil—such as the sunflower which is used to revive the radioactive earth at Chernobyl. Other plants that she includes are found growing wild in urban empty lots or clinging to abandoned buildings. Using walnut ink that is removed to create a kind of “ghost” image, the brown ink in the drawings creates a surface that shows the historic trace of the ink’s initial flow while also evoking the color of parched earth.
Together, the works by Buhler and Driscoll turn a lens towards the plants that thrive unattended at the margins of our daily lives, bringing to focus that which surrounds us but is often overlooked.