Beth Stoddard: Artist in Residence in Fitzsimmons Woods
May 10, 2021 | Topics: featured artist
The Natural Realm presents Beth Stoddard who is among 17 artists participating in a year-long residency program called ARTservancy, a collaboration between Gallery 224 in Port Washington and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, River Revitalization Foundation, Milwaukee Area Land Conservancy, Tall Pines Conservancy, and the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory. The mission of ARTservancy is to promote the visionary work of both the artists and conservationists. Each artist has selected a preserve to spend time in and to engage with.
Artist Statement by Beth Stoddard:
My artistic practice is borne of the delights and constraints I experience as a city-dwelling landscape painter. In 2020 I completed a multi-year project to paint the over 150 Milwaukee County Parks. Now I’m honored to be 2020–2021 ARTservancy artist-in-residence at the Milwaukee Area Land Conservancy property Fitzsimmons Woods. Unlike briefly visiting numerous, manicured urban green spaces, this residency affords the opportunity to immerse myself and my art solely in the wilds of the woods, learning much about this ecosystem as I create new work.
The appeal of Fitzsimmons Woods lies in its fabulously active forest floor, its grand sweep of layered trees, and in the solitude afforded by its accessible yet splendid isolation. Somewhat hidden in Franklin, its largely undisturbed 43 acres of old growth woodland betray but a handful of human contacts from the surrounding subdivisions. This precious land trust offers a wealth of visual treasures: improbably angled fallen trees, fantastical fungi, and traces of resident wildlife.
My approach has been to make weekly visits to observe the seasonal changes, creating drawn or painted on-site sketches. I enjoy my time alone there, touching various textures, walking slowly, and looking carefully. Unhurried exploration and solitary observation are yielding larger studio canvasses with invented figurative narrative elements suggested by the woodland setting.
Three ways of looking foster three bodies of work: focused forest floor drawings, panoramic palette knife color sketches, and imaginative layered paintings. These might be compared to three ways of communicating an observed truth: factual, lyrical, and poetic.
Beth Stoddard is a Milwaukee artist who draws and paints from life with a modern sensibility. Creating work informed by art history and motivated by love for nearby nature, her primary practice is on-site landscape painting in urban parks and preserves. Wisconsin–born, she studied art in Philadelphia, obtaining degrees from both the University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She teaches, judges, and exhibits art, and her painterly realist pieces are held in private and corporate collections nationwide.
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This residency is sponsored by Milwaukee Area Land Conservancy.
This is the latest in our series of featured artists, which is intended to showcase the work of photographers, artists, writers and other creative individuals in our community whose subjects or themes relate in some broad sense to nature, urban nature, people in nature, etc. To see a list of previously featured artists, click here. The work of the 2019-2020 ARTservancy artists in residence is currently being exhibited monthly at Gallery 224. To meet the other ARTservancy artists in residence, click here.
All images courtesy of the artist, except as noted. The featured photo at the top of Beth Stoddard walking in Fitzsimmons Woods is by Eddee Daniel.