The Museum of Art – DeLand is pleased to announce the exhibition “Adam Straus: Out of Paradise,” is on view through Sept. 12 in the Downtown Galleries at 100 N. Woodland Blvd.
Straus started his artistic career as a photographer and sculptor in the late 1970s and early ’80s. He began making small paintings of nocturnal landscapes in 1986, inspired by his surroundings in north Florida. These paintings were often instilled with a dark humor and social commentary, and framed in the sheet lead he had been using on sculpture.
Straus’ work developed into panoramic landscape paintings reminiscent of Hudson River School and Luminist painters like George Inness, John Frederick Kensett, Thomas Cole and Martin Johnson Heade. His landscapes present a romantic transcendent view of nature juxtaposed with his concerns about the struggle and survival of mankind and mankind’s effect on nature.
Like many artists, Straus’ technique has evolved throughout the years, from framing the paintings in lead or steel, experimenting with imagery derived from modern technology and, in 2016, collaging newspapers and other mundane ephemera in the work. Straus paints over much of the text and images, but does not completely obscure them. In some pieces, he works back into the paintings with graphite or by scratching words into the paint to create a sense of the mixed messages and muddled information prevalent in the media.
Some of the landscapes are further altered by digitally inspired glitches and translucent shrouds created by adhering rice paper over parts of the image, referring to man’s uneasy relationship with nature.
Straus’ paintings go far beyond landscapes to tell an incredibly uneasy story about nature, technology, media, politics, and the welfare of our planet and hope.
“It is my continued belief in the resilience of nature, that no matter what we do, it will survive even if we don’t, and that something will grow out of the cracks of whatever we leave,” Straus notes. “But, it is also my hope that we get our act together and start saving what we can’t survive without. While I think of these paintings as optimistic, I hope that they also suggest that the Earth is being drastically affected by our presence, and we need to improve our relationship to nature.”
Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission costs $5, but is free for museum members, for Volusia County and Stetson University students, and for children age 12 and younger.