Joanne Landis’ ‘In Story’ at Converge
When Joanne Landis said she wanted to “get away from it all,” she really meant it.
The artist-writer-fashion designer was living in the lower east side of NYC and painting in a tiny apartment when she decided to move to a 9-acre property in Troxelville, a town with a population of 221 as of 2010, according to usa.com.
She lives there without a computer (she has no email address) and is right up against state forest land, which makes for some interesting interactions with wildlife.
“I’ve had a Mexican standoff in the woods [with a bear],” she said. “I’ve had them in my pond, in my driveway. I’ve seen them walking on the road.”
Being a city person for most of her life, Landis didn’t anticipate how animated the woods would be.
“The woods are alive and changing,” she said. “It’s almost like New York – every time you go out, it’s something different: something’s lived or died or changed. It’s something new.”
She said that the bright colors in her paintings come from the colors in her surroundings and that her property makes its way into her artwork frequently, particularly by way of her pond.
“The fish [in the paintings] started because I have these huge fish in my pond,” she said. “They take over everything … I think they’re carp. They’re grey and gigantic and live for like 80 years or something. I feed them every day; they’re like my friends.”
Water is a common theme that runs throughout Landis’ works like it runs through her land.
“I think it’s in most of my paintings,” she said. “It’s kind of like the blood of the Earth. There’s water running through my property and in the woods behind my pond. It signifies life to me in an important way.”
Landis’ works are on display for her “In Story” exhibition at Converge Gallery, 140 W. Fourth St., until Feb. 23, with a closing reception-artist talk being held Feb. 22.
It makes sense that the show is titled “In Story” and that stories are an integral part of Landis’ work – she is a writer after all.
“I’m very involved in the stories of the paintings,” she said. “As you know, I write, and that’s a really important part of my work. It comes into the paintings in a big way.”
Landis also had the opportunity to read some of her writings in front of her artwork during Converge Gallery’s last “A Night Of Spoken Word,” Jan. 11. Landis has read at the event in the past and said that she enjoys coming.
“I like to hear what people are writing,” she said. “And I do like to read. You respond to your own work in a different way when you read it aloud with an audience. It changes how you respond to the words. It’s like a theatrical thing to be up there and say it.”
Landis has shown some works at Converge in the past and said that the gallery is “wonderful.”
“Give Casey his due,” she said. “All of the shows he’s hung here are exquisite. His choices are wonderful.”
Landis has shown in Williamsport several times, including at the Community Arts Center, the Community Theatre League and at the Pajama Factory, among other places, but this is the first time she’s been able to present a comprehensive exhibition that features works that span her entire career.
“This is like my history in art. It’s different. It’s the whole story,” she said. “I was really surprised when Casey was picking some of the pieces but I’m really happy. When he pulled some of the older pieces … I wouldn’t have shown them but I think they anchor the show.”
Landis’ next big show is in May at The Station Gallery in Lock Haven and in September, she will exhibit her “giant murals” at Penn State University.
For more information about the artist and Converge Gallery, visit convergegallery.com.