American Scenes: Timothy Barr, Randall Exon, T. Allen Lawson

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Since the Hudson River School painters of the early 19th century, artists have chosen to convey the American landscape with a sense of reverence, spirituality, or personal reflection. Contemporary artists Timothy Barr, T. Allen Lawson, and Randall Exon each draw from this tradition, painting remarkable scenes of lush forests, wintery plains, and timeworn architecture of small-town and rural America.

Rather than following strictly what they observe, however, each artist refracts the landscape through a distinct lens, exploring formal issues as well as those of personal or emotional consequence.

“American Scenes,” an exhibition of paintings by Lawson, Barr, and Exon, is on view at LewAllen Galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico, through Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

Barr, Lawson, and Exon each convey countryside vistas, mountains, forests or rivers, interpreted through the poetics of tone, light, and color. As many of their landscapes are of scenes that are partially imagined or personally significant, they gleam with a sheen of familiarity and romance that drives them beyond objective depiction. These artists’ images of stone farmhouses, barns, and clapboard houses often glow with a mood of nostalgia and mystery. Their quietly powerful works are contemporary permutations of the longstanding traditions of American landscape painting.

T. Allen Lawson’s paintings of mountains, plains, and small-town life accentuate the immaterial play of ephemeral light, shadow, and color. His paintings draw on his robust plein air practice, which incorporates his observations of the landscape but bends them past literal depiction in his studio towards a quality of metaphor. Even though his paintings are borne through specific experiences in nature, as Lawson has said, “I am not drawn to nor inspired by subject alone.” Instead, Lawson’s work gains a feeling of intimacy and timelessness from Lawson’s desire to capture on canvas the abstract, ephemeral qualities of nature.

Born in 1963 in Sheridan, Wyoming, Lawson attended the College of Santa Fe before enrolling in the American Academy of Art in Chicago and later the Lyme Academy of Fine Art in Lyme, Connecticut. He was awarded the prestigious John F and Anna Lee Stacey Grant, The Red Smith Memorial Award at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, and the Jurors’ Choice Award from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. He returned to Wyoming in 2016, where he continues to find inspiration for his work.

American landscape paintings
T. Allen Lawson, “Hoar Frost,” 2021, oil on linen over panel, 32 x 34 in.
American landscape paintings
T. Allen Lawson, “Basalt Sentinel,” 2019, oil on linen over panel, 32 x 34 in.

Randall Exon is a mid-career representational painter whose landscapes and figurative works are filled with dream-like mystery and pastoral beauty. They evoke an alluring sense of place and people, inspiring feelings of both nostalgia and wonder. His works allude to ordinary life while expressing a sense of the extraordinary.

Exon was born in South Dakota and raised in Kansas and Oregon. He received a BFA from Washburn University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. He has been teaching at Swarthmore College since 1982, and is today the Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot Professor of Art. He has earned him recognition as a Henry Luce Scholar, was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Prize from the National Academy of Design in New York, and the Thomas Benedict Clark Prize at the 179th Annual Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary American Art, National Academy Museum of Fine Arts in New York.

American landscape paintings
Randall Exon, “The Falls,” 2012, oil on linen, 68 x 68 in.
American landscape paintings
Randall Exon, “Beach House Window,” 2006, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in.

Timothy Barr finds great inspiration in the landscape and serenity of rural mid-Atlantic America. His intimate paintings of stone walled farmhouses, centuries-old trees, and domestic scenes embody the solitude and grandeur of pastoral life. While he is able to capture the beauty of the countryside, many of Barr’s compositions are the products of experience and imagination, brought to life through study, patience, and his sophisticated use of light. “I’m interested in the contrast that light brings to a scene,” Barr has said. “It’s fleeting and needs to be slowed down with paint so we can love it always.” Barr’s paintings are imbued with the characteristics of Luminism, a late 19th century technique highlighting reflective waters, magnificent skies, and heavenly spotlit pastures.

Timothy Barr was born in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, where he continues to live and work. He received a BFA from the Tyler School of Fine Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. Barr spent over a decade as an engineer before becoming a professional artist at the age of 33.

American landscape paintings
Timothy Barr, “Doe Run Farm,” 2018, oil on panel, 23.5 x 23.5 in.
American landscape paintings
Timothy Barr, “Infinitely Interesting,” 2012, oil on panel, 17.63 x 23.63 in.

View “American Scenes” through Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at LewAllen Galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


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