Karen Gunderson

JAMES AUER: The Milwaukee Journal: Sky’s No Limit For Her: Sunday May 19, 1985

Benefiting from the viewer traffic generated by Navy Pier 1985 was the solo show of cloud paintings by Karen Gunderson at Perimeter Gallery, 356 W. Huron St., Chicago.

Gunderson, a native of Racine, Wis., will be having a major exhibition June 7 – July 7 at the Wustum Museum of Fine Arts in her hometown. 

But her somewhat smaller outing, which runs through May 31 at Perimeter, is worth attention, too.

Selecting merely a portion of the traditional landscape, the clouds and blue sky, Gunderson works forcefully rather than fancifully, monumentally rather than miniature.

Her cloudbanks, strongly modeled, have the architectonic power of major structures – mountains, cliffs, fjords and the like.

Indeed, they are perhaps intentionally disorienting in terms of both scale and viewpoint: one might be looking up, at the sky, or down, towards the sea.

In either case one is struck by a sense of energy rather than evanescence, of power rather than passivity.

Nor can one ignore the tensions built up between the shrewdly shaded islands of whitish water vapor and the cleanly limned areas of blue that surround and delimit them.

It’s a topic worth further development, raising questions that strike to the heart of the relationship between abstraction and the rise of the so-called New Realism.

One looks forward to Gunderson’s Wustum show in the hope it will further illuminate this difficult issue.