American Beauty

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Artist Chris Ballantyne grew up as a military brat, and he knows the unique attractions of suburban slumber. His paintings evoke the Zenlike stillness of dead afternoons spent loping around manufactured landscapes with only the tsk-tsk of faraway sprinklers breaking the silence. "Our ideas of nature and landscape are written into city zoning codes with specific ratios of grass and trees," Ballantyne says in his artist's statement. His point is elegantly revealed visually in works such as 2003's Berm, which features a grassy, tree-filled traffic island standing lonely in an empty parking lot. He has a thing for culverts, lawns, and kidney-shaped pools, as well as kidney-shaped holes next to kidney-shaped piles of excavated earth. His landscapes are transformed by humans but bereft of them, and his work is extremely quiet and delicately rendered. But it's not all about suburbia's architectural sameness: He brings that same stillness to the ocean, whether it's through surfers bobbing in the water next to a jetty or a fully loaded ship traversing a quiet expanse of ocean.
Aug. 10-Sept. 12

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