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John and Linda Cross
Dates: Through May 18, 2019
Location: Kaaterskill Fine Arts Gallery, Hunter Village Square, 7950 Main Street, Village of Hunter
Gallery Hours: Friday, Saturday & Monday, 11 am-5:30 pm; Sunday 11 am-4:00 PM
More Information: 518 263 2060
Work courtesy of Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY
It has become a fact of life that many of my closest friends are artists. I would suppose this has something to do with my own aspirations to be an artist and to function as a critic in relation to the art of others. John and Linda Cross are an artist-couple. I have known them for close to thirty years. We met initially through the Triangle Workshop when it was actively present in Pine Plains, and a year later at the Art Omi International Artists Workshop, also in upstate New York. At that time, Linda functioned as Executive Director of the program at Art Omi for more than a decade, whereupon it eventually became a leading artists’ residency world-wide.
As long as I have known the Crosses I have diligently followed their work through many developments, permutations, and variations. I am interested in what they do with material and in how their ideas become constructs that result in cultural statements in one form or another. I want to understand how they think and function as artists throughout the day. It is more involved than saying—John carves and Linda paints. Being an artist in not so simple, and never has been throughout the long history of making art. There is always more to it than what necessarily meets the eye.
But the eye is also important! I look at John Cross’s carved wooden figure, titled New York Knick (1990) and I see the focus and the attention he has given to every aspect of the carving. This goes from the figure’s stance to its expression, from the umber paint on the head of hair to the umber basketball, from the flesh tones of the legs to the red stripes on the player’s blue sox. Everything has to work evenly and together. Pavarotti (2014) comes twenty-four years later. Again, the black tuxedoed figure spreads his arms wide as his resonant voice echoes into the distant corners of the auditorium upon completing an aria from Carmen. Again the brilliant red cummerbund resonates against the black suit lending a special touch. Both representations—New York Knick and Pavarotti—share a confident, heroic demeanor. The artist recognizes their achievements and, having done so, exhorts the extraordinary humanity and humility present in each.
Linda Cross is a painter—par excellence. I never cease to become ensconced in her inventiveness and assuredness in dealing with form and color. She loves nature as she does the landscape. This is represented precisely in her drawing, Spring Growth (2017). Every nuance derived from nature is complete as she works with a graphite pencil intuiting her application of acrylic medium on paper. The resonance of nature seeps through the stones giving the sense of a cosmology embedded within the earth.
But Linda further extends her artful craft in other directions as well. This is boldly and sensitively revealed in Painted Desert (2017), where the earthly stones are raised from the ground ninety degrees upward so that we experience the textures of the ground transformed through parallel vision to become an abstract painting. She then moves from the forms associated with nature—rocks, moss, clay, etc.—to waste-objects discarded in the natural environment, such as tin and aluminum cans, cardboard boxes, and various sorts of discarded wrappers. Titled Lost and Found (2018), Cross brings chaos back into order, thus liberating our sensibilities to recall the meaning of detritus. This meaning eventually becomes an abstract compositional relief filled with delicacy and masterful maneuvers that rejuvenate our ability to breath again, and possibly to say, as did the philosopher Nietzsche: Yes to life in all its manifestations.
—Robert C. Morgan