Bryan Nash Gill

Beyond the landscape

'Beyond the Landscape' by Litchfeld County artist: Bryan Nash Gill at the Berkshire Museum

“Willow,” 49 5/8” x 38 5/8”, relief print, 2011, by Bryan Nash Gill

PITTSFIELD, Mass.—“Bryan Nash Gill: Beyond the Landscape,” an exhibition of prints and sculptures by Connecticut-based artist Bryan Nash, Gill, will be on view at Berkshire Museum through May 28.

The artist will be signing copies of his new book, “Woodcut,” at museum on Sunday, April 22, from 4 to 5 p.m. The event is included with museum admission.

“Woodcut,” published by Princeton Architectural Press (www.papress.com), features Mr. Gill’s large-scale relief prints made from cross-sections of trees. Woodcut includes 100 color illustrations, an introduction by writer Verlyn Klinkenborg, and an interview with the artist detailing his printmaking process.

Mr. Gill creates abstract sculptures, works on paper, and installations that are inextricably bound to the materials and inspiration he finds in nature, working and living in a rural New England setting. Massive sections of tree trunks are cut and carved; branches and leaves are re-interpreted in bronze; and the growth rings on cross-sections of trees are inked and transferred to hand-made paper.

A continuation of the museum’s commitment to showing work by contemporary artists whose pieces are inspired by nature and/or explore the connections between culture and nature, the exhibition also evokes a sense of place and speaks to an appreciation for the beauty of the distinctive landscape in our region of New England, according to a release from the museum.

“Bryan Nash Gill’s work inherently conveys an authentic sense of place derived from his careful observation and unique artistic interpretation of our regional environment. It strongly resonates with our mission to make connections among art, history, and natural science and I know that will be appreciated by our visitors during the show,” says Van Shields, executive director of Berkshire Museum.

“I am pleased to have this opportunity to show my work at Berkshire Museum,” said Mr. Gill. “I take materials from the landscape, out of their original context, and restructure them, taking them apart and putting them back together, a process that helps me understand my relationship, between my studio and the outside world. When people view my work, I bring them into this dialogue, asking them to learn their landscape. My goal is to engage people in the process of looking and examining our bonds with the living world.”

In Mr. Gill’s distinctive, compelling large-scale works, found objects, from branches, vines, and pine needles to tree trunks, are transformed into sculpture or are incorporated into installations and assemblages, the release said.

Mr. “Gill’s obvious love for the trees and forests of his native Connecticut is apparent in his compelling prints and sculptures. Artwork that resonates with respect and appreciation for nature and the environment shares the message that observing and interacting with the natural world is not only important, but aesthetically rewarding,” said Maria Mingalone, director of interpretation and curator of the exhibition.

Mr. Gill’s bronze sculptures echo forms and textures from nature; other pieces are created by altering natural materials, as when large blocks of wood are carved into spheres, cages, or pillars.

The works on paper are produced when Mr. Gill selects a cross-section of tree trunk and then painstakingly inks the textured surface and transfers the pattern to handmade paper, rubbing by hand, resulting in a meticulous print of the growth rings and patterns. The life-size prints reveal distinctive characteristics of each tree—ash, maple, oak—as well as a sense of the cycle of life in the Connecticut woods.

“Bryan Nash Gill is not simply a naturalist, he is an artist rooted in nature; he draws his vocabulary from the world of New England’s woods,” wrote Pat Rosoff, art critic for the Hartford Advocate.

Mr. Gill currently maintains his studio in the same northwestern corner of Connecticut where he grew up. His sculptures and drawings are heavily influenced by the New England countryside but also by geographical regions from Carrara, Italy, and New Orleans, Louisiana, to northern California, where he has lived and worked. Gill earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Tulane University in 1984 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the California College of the Arts in Oakland four years later.

Mr. Gill has showed his work at many exhibitions and galleries across the United States, including a solo show at the New Britain Museum of American Art, and at the prestigious DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Gill is a two-time recipient of the Individual Artists Grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. He was commissioned to create an installation for the American Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Aichi, Japan, in 2005. Gill’s work is in many private and public collections, including IBM Corporation in New York, Kaiser Permanente Medical Facility in Fairfield, California, and the Boston Public Library. For more information on the artist, visit www.bryannashgill.com.

Berkshire Museum is located at 39 South Street/Route 7 in downtown Pittsfield, and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Regular museum admission is $13 for adults and $6 for children. Members and children aged three and under enjoy free admission. For more information, visit the Web site at www.berkshiremuseum.org or call 413-443-7171.

Berkshire Museum is the first public museum in Berkshire County, established by Zenas Crane in 1903 as a museum of art and natural history. “Taking Flight; Audubon and the World of Birds” will be on view through June 17. “David Henderson: A Brief History of Aviation” will be on view through May 13. The Little Cinema is open year-round, and Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, aquarium, Alexander Calder Gallery, and other exhibits are ongoing.

“Willow,” 49 5/8” x 38 5/8”, relief print, 2011, by Bryan Nash Gill - Litchfield County Times