Semi-abstract paintings of people and realist landscapes are the highlights of the Third Friday Art Walk in downtown Medford happening from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19.
The Rogue Gallery & Art Center, 40 S. Bartlett St., will showcase "Human Connection: Figurative Paintings by Karen Staal" through Feb. 16 in its main gallery, with an exhibit of landscapes titled "Rogue Impressions and Beyond: Paintings by Sylvia Trujillo" through Feb. 2 in its community space.
Art du Jour Gallery, 213 E. Main St., will feature the landscapes of artist Kim Faucher through January, plus a feature wall of member artists' creations based on the theme "Black and White with a Touch of Color."
The galleries will host receptions during the art walk. Artists will be on hand to discuss their work.
Staal has adopted a positive, hopeful approach in her "Human Connection" exhibit, a departure from a solo show she had several years ago that was a reaction to the violence she saw in the world.
"This is almost completely the opposite," Staal says. "What I'm feeling now is we need to focus more on hope and augment hope in whatever way we can. It doesn't mean that all the paintings are lovey-dovey, but this show is not full of anger or a cry against injustice."
While some of the people in her paintings still appear pensive, many are making an effort to reach out to others in their lives. A man and woman gaze at each other near the ocean; an elderly couple hold hands in a sunset-tinged landscape; jazz musicians team up for improvisations.
Staal says the sky has become an important part of her compositions.
"I'm having a lot of fun lately and using a lot of sky. When you have individuals against the sky as a backdrop, to me that is very exciting. It encourages the possibility of abstraction," she says.
The semi-abstract backgrounds complement the manner in which Staal paints faces and the human figure. She uses confident brush strokes and innovative blocks of color.
Staal says she tries to work out the details of a painting as she goes, rather than being locked into her early concept for a particular piece.
Skies also figure prominently in many of Trujillo's impressionistic landscapes of local scenes.
In a series of small paintings of Grizzly Peak, she captures shifting patterns of cloud and light.
"From my studio in Ashland I have a perfect view of Grizzly Peak," Trujillo says. "Everyone knows that peak, but I've been interested in skies and clouds and different formations that occur."
With clouds constantly shifting, she sketches in the composition of the ephemeral formations, then makes notes on color using oil paints. Then it's time to to make the finished painting inside her studio.
"The clouds change so fast, especially in spring. They say in the spring and fall here, you have all the seasons in one day," she says.
Heavy wildfire smoke that choked the Rogue Valley for much of the summer kept her inside for part of the year, but she made up for lost ground with a flurry of fall paintings.
In "Indian Memorial," dried out grasses glow on a hillside while haze obscures distant mountains. Trees with coral, vermilion, mustard yellow and forest green foliage dot the slopes leading up to a Table Rocks formation in one panoramic painting.
"I like to stay local," says Trujillo, who usually paints outdoors. "There's so much beauty in the Rogue Valley. That's one of the beauties of living here. I don't have to drive very far to find a scene. I just need to find a secluded spot — or at least something that's a little bit off the road."
At Art du Jour Gallery, Faucher's paintings include landscapes, still life works and architectural scenes.
Dark, ominous clouds blow toward a decrepit barn in "Storm Coming," while blue skies and fluffy white clouds grace a Mission-style church surrounded by sage brush in "Our Lady of the Light." "Tea Party" is a medley of cheerful colors with blue and white pottery, tulips, tea and chocolate cake.
"Black and White with a Touch of Color" is a mix of work by member artists Millie Clarke, Dick Woods, Roy Musitelli, Judy Hubler, Virginia Doak, Ruth Heath, Kay Myer and new member artist John Acosta.
Acosta's other new pieces at Art du Jour include an abstract portrait of Jesus, a detailed rendering of the Colosseum in Rome and an Edvard Munch-style painting of a cave titled "Hope and Despair."
Art du Jour Gallery invites artists to enter its People's Choice Exhibit contest of pen, pencil, pastel, colored pencil, graphite or scratchboard art. The entry fee is $20 and entries will be displayed throughout February, with gallery visitors choosing the winner and pieces available for sale. Entry forms are available at the gallery, with art due between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Jan. 31.
See artdujourgallery.com or call 541-770-3190 for more information.
Contact information for the Rogue Gallery is roguegallery.org or 541-772-8188.