Uneasy Places at the Dean Jensen Gallery

Excerpted from exhibition catalog essay

Similarly, Barry Carlsen’s nocturnal evocations of the northwoods and vacant city parks might be viewed as meditations on man’s feelings of alienation, although his art is obviously inflected in a way quite different than Weidner’s. While Weidner’s pictures are situated in places that are essentially man-created, Carlsen located his art in the natural world. Both in their psychological effect, and in Carlsen’s bravura way with paint, his scenes show a kinship with those of Frederic Church, Thomas Cole and others of the Hudson River School. They sound the Transcendental idea that God is to be found in everywhere in nature, and, against their backdrops of spacious skies and forests extending as far as the eye can see, also remind us of our own smallness and frailty. Carlsen’s paintings often include a solitary figure, probably himself, who is dwarfed by nature’s vastness. No such soul is seeable in “Empty Park at Night,” but man appears to be represented by things from his own hand, including park lamps and what may be a softball field backstop. How temporary they seem in comparison with the moon and the stretching, cloud-littered, dark sky. Upon encountering such a scene, one might shiver and remember a stanza form A.E. Houseman’s Last Poems: 

"I, a stranger and afraid in a world I never made."

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