Friday, June 12, 2009

Eo Omwake's landscapes

Eo Omwake's landscape paintings now at the Gibby gallery in Middletown have an alive quality that freshens the familiar meadows and hedgerows and iconic animals.

His theme "Honoring Nature" is straightforward enough, but the pictures are not so simple. Eo's roots as an abstract painter in mixed media are evident in the poised compositions and patterned backgrounds. It's his affinity for Buddhism and Eastern philosophy that suggests a beckoning spirit in these places beyond the usual Brandywine scenes.

His misty, diffused handling of acrylic paint is another wonder. He said he layered paint in the typical oil method, but the acrylic surfaces come up drier and warmer. He told me he used airbrush on big expanses plus brush work on the figurative subjects. That yielded a borderless sense of space and distance - to serve his meaning about nature's mystery.

So "White Sound of Winter," a 36-inch canvas with a hint of snowy field and woods, has tenderness despite its blank austerity. And "Rock" in mossy greens and browns somehow looks reptilian rather than sedimentary.

Eo said his ornery and irreverent impulses came out in two portraits of his pet cats hunched atop a Buddha statue and a totem pole. After all, the Buddha didn't take himself so seriously. The cats' inscrutable eyes and muscular tension are not just whimsy, though. Beware of life.

This show continues to June 27. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays at the Gilbert W. Perry Jr. Center for the Arts, 51 W. Main St., Middletown. It's next door to the Everett Theater. See

Eo Omwake teaches at the Gibby, and will start new workshops this fall. He also holds classes at the Delaware Art Museum and Buzz Ware Village Center in Arden, as well as a good many Philadelphia colleges.

His Web site is

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