Daly exhibits quiet beauty of rural landscapes

The Lockhart Gallery debuted Jonathon Daly’s “Background” on Feb. 1.  The exhibition is centered on simple representations of rustic settings and aims to point out the coexistence of human beings and the natural environment that surrounds them. The exhibit will be on display until March 8. (Ellayna Fredericks/Staff Photographer)

Main Street’s Lockhart Gallery debuted “Background” on Feb. 1, an exhibition of still life and landscape paintings by Jonathan Daly.

Daly is a Buffalo native and was raised on an old, rural farm, surrounded by a creative environment. With painters as parents, Daly was simply born to be an artist. His identical twin brother caught the creative bug, too, and works as a designer. 

After graduating from Syracuse University, Daly found inspiration from Jerome Witkin’s work—a narrative artist whose paintings deal with political and social issues—and decided to pursue his passion for painting. He returned to Western New York to paint and to reconnect with the natural environment that he grew up in after attending the MFA painting program at Boston University. 

Daly’s work itself is influenced by his father as well as Bruce Kurland, a contemporary painter known for his “dreamlike” still life paintings. Daly currently lives in a cabin near a small creek in Bliss, New York and continues to let his remote environment motivate his painting.

His work tends to depict rural surroundings and to reflect “the delicate coexistence between our natural roots and the synthetic fabrications of our species” and the relationship between the natural environment and how humans inhabit it. Daly’s work is specific to his experiences, as he seeks to find the “beauty in an imperfect setting.” He strives to uncover the rich details that may go unnoticed in the world.

The works in “Background” are exclusively landscapes and still life paintings with a common pattern of wildlife and broad color. The landscapes are ominous and gloomy, yet calm and peaceful and are simultaneously simple yet detailed. 

This pastoral setting shows the depth and openness of upstate New York. Most of the landscapes also include native wildlife, further symbolizing the beauty of nature and life. 

Daly’s paintings exhibit intriguing shadows, as exemplified in “Moonlit Mailbox.” This piece is similar to its peers, but it draws attention to itself. There is an image of a snowy driveway across the street from a tiny, lonely mailbox. The scene seems to take place at dusk when the moonlight lights up the darkness of the night. With strategic use of cool colors and shadows, the piece accurately captures a chilly night in the countryside.

Daly’s still life paintings convey a similar theme to that shown in the landscape pieces. In fact, it almost seems as though these depict the insides of the houses found in the landscapes. The still lifes all depict various objects on shelves. 

Many of these items—including animal bones, old cans or cups, fruit, flowers and even fishing hooks—correlate with the rural tone of the exhibit. Interestingly, the objects are stacked or are balanced on top of each other. “Skull & Bobber” shows an animal skull sitting atop a small pitcher. In this piece, Daly captures his original message of man and nature peacefully coexisting.

In a beautiful representation of rustic settings, Daly’s exhibition captures the details that go unnoticed in the world’s countryside—a message that the Geneseo community would do well to learn from, as it is easy to forget to enjoy the beauty of the nature that surrounds our small town.