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Veronica Gelbaum

Jake Stutz

Innocent World

“But his walk at least took his mind off things - and then, when he was tired of shaking the dust off books, he would lean over the parapet and gaze at the river. He enjoyed looking at the boats with their tarred hulles, their cabins painted leek-green, their mainmasts lowered onto the deck.  He would linger there, entranced, contemplating the stewpan simmering on a cast-iron stove, out in the open air, the ever-present black-and-white dog running up and down the barges with its tail coiled in the air and the strikingly blonde children sitting near the tiller, their hair falling across their eyes and their fingers in their mouths. It would really be fun to live like that, he thought, smiling despite himself at these boyish longings, and he even had a twinge of fellow feeling for the fishermen, who were sitting still like a string of onions, separated from each other by boxes of maggots.”  - Joris-Karl Huysmans, With The Flow

Meaningful intimacy with another person is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of a human life. It’s to share your own internal universe and also to create new understandings of the outside world that connect you to one another.  It’s to gain the ability to look through each other's eyes. Moments from daily life are shared and a certain weight is added to experiences that otherwise might feel fleeting.  Each other's references and ideas build upon one another and your surroundings become immediate and graspable. A sunset, an ocean view, a kitten, a peculiar dinner setting, a joke all become a charged aesthetic experience together. The immeasurable quality of time and the universe can feel smaller, like it can be touched and understood for even a second. And yet the edges of the individual self remain, however blurred from time to time, and must be preserved and appreciated. Sharing a sensibility doesn’t mean losing one's unique qualities. Individuals are exalted in union and our perception of them is sharpened. Imagine gazing into the dual toned lensed eyes of M. Manson. The piercing synthetic blue highlights the warmth and softness of his natural hazel - and vice versa.  We’re lucky to witness this here. Two intriguingly different approaches are presented in harmony. Their differences enhance one another while their similarities compliment and nourish. The door to a new world has been generously opened and it’s ours to walk through. It's purposefully difficult to discern a specific time or place represented in Jake Stutz’s images. They bring to mind something bygone, but also eternal, that’s settling into the present. The overall subdued palette belies a vigorous and at times chaotic handling. The compositions consistently fall apart and put themselves back together again with a startlingly calm demeanor. Intense moments of attention are contrasted with an overall buzzing gentleness. There’s a sense of time standing still - a patient pursuit of peace despite it all. The most violent ocean wave appears to cascade slowly and beautifully when viewed from a distance. Veronica Gelbaum’s works bring our attention to things easily taken for granted.  Never forcefully but instead with a wink or a smile. She encourages us to look up when walking. To notice the cats lurking around doorways. To take note of attention spanning over time or themes we may have inherited without knowing it. To appreciate the unplaceable. She highlights the historical and familiar with subtle twists that throw off our expectations, making them seamlessly contemporary. She paints studiously and executes precisely, cultivating a style that’s warm and inviting yet knowingly cool. Making a painting that's precise but with seeming effortlessness is perhaps the highest of achievements. She lets things land with just the right amount of planning and touch. To hold something without throttling it is the task of heroes.

Text by Ramsey Alderson