chicago

Janet Carkeek

State of Illinois Art Gallery

Janet Carkeek works in ink and pastel on commercial plywood, augmenting and drawing out the natural rhythmic variegation of the grain. There is a kind of benign dignity to this pursuit, a Joyce Kilmer–like complicity with arboreal being; time has etched these patterns into the fiber of the wood, and Carkeek’s practice patiently releases them. Her palette is so discreetly muted, so modest and harmonious, that it never overwhelms nature’s consummate artisanship.

In the earliest of the 12 works that made up this miniretrospective, Carkeek joined pairs of variously grained plywood panels in horizontal diptychs that suggest pensive landscapes or seascapes. The whorls and swirls resembling surging seas beneath cloudy skies, which she carefully pulls from the grain in Time Accumulation Series #5, 1986, reveal a latent pantheism. It is as if the patterns on a cross section of a tree and the surface

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