New! Seeing the forest for Amy Talluto’s trees
What’s that in the forecast? Several days into the 60s? Finally, the layers are coming off! Light jacket season has arrived, and with it the urge to fling ourselves into the outdoors, find some fresh air, and go full GORP. Spring is low-key optimal for hiking, high time to embrace the beauty of short-lived blooms and sprouts, and spot some newborn wildlife. The leaf-peepers won’t crowd the trails until fall, and there’s no snow to trudge through, but temps are still cool enough that you won’t instantly be drenched in sweat. And green! The welcome sight of so much green multiplying every day. To engulf yourself in it after the equinox is a sort of baptism by nature, a deeply restorative, even invigorating phenomenon—a feeling Amy Talluto somehow manages to convey in the immersive nature experience of her new edition: Black Creek.
The lush, green grove portrayed here is a particularly striking section of Black Creek Preserve, a 130-acre woodland tract in Esopus, upstate New York. Tipping slenderly toward the center of the frame are the shaded trunks of eastern hemlock trees. When their needles shed into the creek below, their tannins turn the water black—giving the preserve its name and the creek an otherworldly countenance. The creek’s inky surface also invites rich reflections from the surrounding flora, adding to its mysterious aura. Talluto masterfully captures the enigmatic, inverted world on the water’s surface, and the dappled light cutting through the canopy to caress a patch of leaves, flirt with a knoll, or commune with a fallen tree.
Color and light are inflection points in Talluto's painting, something she executed with great intention. Black Creek is part of a series the artist created inspired by Eudora Welty’s short story, Moon Lake, in which the author describes the night sky as "pale as a green grape, transparent as grape flesh over each tree.” This grape imagery and the story’s descriptions of dense, verdant woods stuck with Talluto, reverberating through her painting practice and evolving into the ethereal mood and emerald wash of Black Creek and its counterparts. The time of day is indiscernible, replaced instead by a sort of forest time, an ambiguous dance of darkness and light.
There’s so much to notice in Black Creek, so many stirring details that make this nature moment come alive—and the way the artist sees it, that’s simply doing the scene justice. In this video, Talluto discusses her process and leads a brief amble through Black Creek Preserve. Speaking to the filmmaker, she asks: nature is “seen as a backdrop to a play … but what if it’s the main character?” What if nature were allowed to fully express its eccentricities, given center stage instead of a supporting role? Talluto’s drawn to natural subjects with an almost human air, and those that astonish, agitate or attract. “I want to stay in reality,” she says, but her work does so while emphasizing the incredible, unexpected, evocative forms and figures she finds in nature, encounters that elicit an emotional response in return—one she translates via paintbrush to share with her viewer.
The power of Talluto’s pieces lies in the fact that her landscapes aren’t fantasy—nature really is this wonderfully weird (to use her own word). Here’s an artist with a profound appreciation for the irregularities and idiosyncrasies of the natural world, for its infinite possibility to surprise, and she’s capable of communicating it. Venture out and experience for yourself, then hang Black Creek on your wall and bring that elusive beauty in.
With art for everyone,