Montgomery County artist Barbara J. Zucker paints nature’s story. This retrospective exhibition of her work shows changing phases of painting and life, but also constants: a love of color, form and balance, the persistence of landscape and a reference to the human body–overt or hidden–and a sensual expression of the subject matter.
Nature, she says, “constantly intrigues me… [It] fills me with a sense of nature’s mystery, power, and beauty.” Zucker’s paintings, grouped by series, vary by style and medium but consistently illustrate vivid variations of nature’s colors, shapes, and textures. She has found that by developing a subject in many ways over time, she is able to experience a place more fully and continually discovers new variations.
The exhibition showcases work from each phase in Zucker’s life—works that are transitional or that she personally has selected as her best work, or works which capture her spirit at the time. These include moonscapes, goddess images, paintings related to family events, organic forms influenced by geometric structures, landscapes inspired by travels, and a topiary series inspired by Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia. More recent is the Stone Hill series depicting the woods and sights near Zucker’s Montgomery County home, and paintings of beloved Maine locales, such as the blueberry fields, which turn brilliant scarlet in autumn, islands beyond the harbor, and the rocks and water on the Schoodic Peninsula, part of Acadia National Park. The salt water Mill Pond is the focus of another series, “to celebrate its beauty, its peacefulness and its changeability; infinite variations of colors, patterns on the water, shapes of clouds, movements of the grass or times of the tide.”
While these painting are about special places, they are equally studies in color, light, shape and other formal abstract elements. The paintings have a contemporary feeling due to heightened colors and simplified forms, and many employ multiple panels: diptychs and triptychs.
“Nature,” she writes, is “more rich and varied than our minds can imagine and in looking at the same subject matter over and over, I am always excited by seeing something new.”
Barbara J. Zucker is a 1966 graduate of Ursinus College and earned her master’s degree from Tyler School of Art in 1971. She is President Emerita of Philadelphia/Tri State Artists Equity and was Exhibition Chair of that organization from 1993 to 2010. Her paintings are in the permanent collections of the Berman Museum of Art, the Reading Public Museum, Woodmere Art Museum, Rosemont College and other public and private collections.