Letha Kelsey

Shown is Letha Kelsey’s exhibit “Far/Near” at the River Arts on Water Gallery in Prairie du Sac. The Lodi native will have her work displayed at the gallery through June 26.

Prairie du Sac’s River Arts on Water Gallery is inviting visitors to view new artwork, a new gallery layout, and new artists.

Lodi artist Letha Kelsey will be one of those featured guest artists, along with Mazomanie’s Luann Roberts Smith.

Kelsey works in mixed media collage and painting, while Roberts Smith specializes in jewelry and encaustic. Their work will be featured in the gallery — located at 590 Water St. — through Saturday, June 26. The gallery is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Kelsey has had her work displayed at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as gallery’s in Boston, Chicago and Berkeley, California. She graduated from Minnesota State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2000 and with a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin in 2002. Currently, she is Associate Professor in the Fine Art department at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Baraboo/Sauk County campus. She is also on Lodi’s Parks Committee.

Kelsey’s exhibit in Prairie du Sac is entitled, “Far/Near,” and she posted a statement of her work on the gallery’s website.

“As an artist, I investigate how sensory phenomena and immediate surroundings translate into visual language. Paintings and drawings from the last decade have developed from two events: an experience of being away and the experience of returning home,” the statement reads.

Supported by a 2010 University of Wisconsin Summer Research Grant, Kelsey notes that she hiked across Wisconsin along the Ice Age Trail — from Potawatomi State Park (just outside Sturgeon Bay) to Lodi. She says the paintings and drawings from that series “convey the collective sensory experience of slowly moving through the landscape over the course of 37 days.” Those pieces are called the “On Foot” series.

“Following the births of my sons in 2013 and 2014, I returned focus to immediate surroundings, making paintings and drawings that investigate play, original impulse, and repetitions of the domestic realm,” the statement continues. “Daily acts, exchanges, and everyday fragments inform these new works. The paintings and collages here represent a return to what is most simply, close by.”

Those works are part of the “Homing” series.

Kelsey will have selected works from both of those series in the exhibit.

“It is my hope that viewing them together may elicit fresh contemplation of the everyday, both far and near,” Kelsey said.

Roberts Smith said she came from creative parents, was taught to sketch at an early age, and painted with her aunt. She gained an appreciation for abstract art, but said that being a traditional painter, it was difficult to turn off the need “to make everything look like something.”

She began to experiment with picassiette — a form of mosaic the uses found objects and broken crockery. She said while those pieces don’t lend themselves to realism, it led to more experiments with recycled glass and using encaustic.

“I discovered the goal was to learn to play and not work so hard at creating.”

To this day, Roberts Smith has not settled on just one medium to her art.

Along with the Kelsey and Roberts Smith, the gallery hosts the work of 37 local artists who all live within 35 miles of Prairie du Sac.

Masks and social distancing are required in the space. For more information, email Kristina at kcoopman@riverartsinc.org or visit the gallery’s website at www.riverartsinc.

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