Clarendon Hills artist shows ‘beauty’ at Hinsdale Library
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:25AM
HINSDALE — It’s the most wonderful time of the year, according to the song, but it is also the most frenetic with the craziest traffic, longest lines and busiest schedules.
Take a deep breath. An oasis of calm, quiet and soothing beauty is nearby, and to enjoy it won’t cost a thing .
That oasis is the Hinsdale Public Library’s Quiet Reading Room. When I visited last week, my blood pressure gently dropped, my shoulders relaxed and the background noise dimmed. There, the botanical studies of Clarendon Hills artist Alix Palo in her show Beauty in Nature provided a welcome respite from the seasonal frenzy.
Beauty in Nature consists of 27 framed botanical studies, many of them original watercolors or giclee (pronounced gee-clay) prints, all of them stunning in their carefully wrought attention to detail. The last two Quiet Reading Room exhibits featured abstract, even bold and bright works, many of which were mixed media pieces. Palo’s work is definitely representational and strives to accurately reflect the plants she depicts. In fact, Palo said she was concerned that the space would be “too contemporary” for her studies, but the open and airy room seems to suit a variety of art styles, and it showcases Palo’s botanical studies very well.
Palo has been painting and doing art for longer than she can remember. She majored in art history at Tulane thinking it would be practical as opposed to the many studio art classes she also took. In college, she said she felt the emphasis was on creating abstract work that originated from within while she liked doing more representational work like still lifes. Palo only took her first watercolor class at Morton Arboretum three years ago, having thought — like many artists — that it would be too “uncontrollable.” Instead, she found she liked the medium very much. In fact, she said, she liked the amount of crisp detail she could create with a brush. She took several more classes there focusing on botanical studies.
To understand the level of detail she likes, go look at her work. She has rendered the branch of a gingko tree, for example, with its apricot-colored fruit and fan-shaped leaves so evocatively that it touches the back of memory, and the viewer can remember the foul smell those little gingko fruits leave when they’re crushed on the sidewalk.
Art isn’t the main thing that occupies Palo’s time. As the mom to six (six!) children in three different schools — three at Hinsdale Central, two in eighth grade and one in second grade — she’s as focused on managing her schedule as any other mom. Right now, though, as an artist, she’s found studying and rendering nature on paper to be tremendously satisfying.
“I go through phases when I can’t focus on it,” she said of her work. Then there are times, when she’s at it every single day. “I go upstairs to my studio and treat it like a job. It’s hard to do for just half an hour. It’s better if I have two or three hours.”
Beauty in Nature is a collection of botanical studies: peonies, tulips, a magnolia branch, calla lilies, an artichoke, Michigan grasses. The viewer is treated to carefully rendered spring, summer and fall flora in the soft and soothing medium of watercolor. While I like the green and red holiday décor as much as anyone, to be reminded of the beauty and delicacy of the warmer months is restorative.
Beauty in Nature continues at the Hinsdale Public Library through Feb. 28,. For more information visit www.hindalelibrary.info or phone (630) 986-1976. Palo’s work at the library is for sale.