Brian Fee reviews the exhibition Jason Middlebrook: The Line That Divides Us at Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, on view through August 10, 2013.
Fee writes: "Jason Middlebrook isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel by painting directly onto internally cut trunks from the local mill. But in relocating from Williamsburg to Columbia County in upstate New York seven years ago, the artist began infusing his nature-minded oeuvre with the natural landscape… Consider how the optical waves on Black Betty refer back to the untouched cherrywood and, if you look at them from an angle, recede into the surface. It feels deliberate: Middlebrook’s carefully taped and applied black spray paint belongs there, like the cherry’s grain itself. He emphasizes his ethos in titling neighbor Respecting the Grain: warm-toned chevrons of varying widths ripple across the blond panel, yet they reserve wide gulfs for the creamy, yellow birch grain. The artist considers the 100+ years of growth clocked in this hardwood (old-growth birch can more than triple that estimate), adding his touches to the “work” (i.e. the tree) to make it his own."