Astrid Preston's paintings and drawings are grounded in the premise that a landscape is an abstract human construct based on our ability to mentally remove ourselves from the natural world. Because of this conceptual separation, we are still trying to resolve our complicated and ever-changing relationship to nature. Preston addresses both the wild, which has been in our evolutionary blood for thousands of years, and the cultivated, which represents our desire for order and control. While her paintings of topiaries, hedges, mazes and vast deserts dotted with perfectly rounded sagebrush could be described as allegorical, metaphysical and even surreal, her current work, east west spring fall explores the intricate complexities of tangled vines and leaves. The plant forms range from the eugenia in her backyard to the cherry blossoms of Japan. Some are dense foliage, while others are stark and barren. In these works, Preston combines western painting sensibilities with eastern concepts such as wabi-sabi-- the Japanese aesthetic based on transience, imperfection, simplicity and the reflection of natural processes. Several paintings in the exhibition are on raw Belgian linen and include images of leaves that trail off into unfinished passages. In another series of square paintings, the artist has superimposed bare branches over floating color fields reminiscent of Rothko.
Concurrently, the gallery will present an exhibition celebrating the birthday of Julius Shulman, who would have turned 100 on October 10th. Recognized by many as the most important architectural photographer in history, Shulman's iconic images of works by Neutra, Schindler, Eames, Koenig and others have come to symbolize the optimistic spirit of Modernism. The exhibit at Craig Krull Gallery, entitled Centennial 10/10/10, consists of small vintage prints that Shulman made in the years just prior to becoming a professional photographer in 1936. These never before exhibited photos include self-portraits, camping and hiking adventures, and work from his years as a student at Berkeley.