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Landscape artist 'captures the moment' in Portage exhibit
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Landscape artist 'captures the moment' in Portage exhibit

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When people look closely at the oil paintings on display at Tivoli nursing home in Portage, they’ll see the choices of the artist, Brian Schuetz.

“I want them to see the brush strokes,” he said. “I want them to see when I’m making a mark. I like to keep it loose so they know it’s a painting.”

Through March, Schuetz is displaying 20 oil paintings of landscapes in this part of the state. His subjects include the Fox River, Amish homes, old mills, old barns, Baraboo bluffs, Parfrey’s Glen and Devil’s Lake.

He enjoys every season Wisconsin has to offer, especially the fall. “That’s when you get the oranges and greens and reds and yellows and all the different textures,” he said of the season that’s most often featured in his landscapes. “There’s such a huge variety of subjects in our state: the marsh areas, the hills and bluffs.”

The graphics and signs manager for Wilderness Resorts is a Wisconsin Rapids native who spent several years in Portage before moving to Wisconsin Dells for his job. He’s painted for about 30 years and belongs to the Oil Painters of America, a not-for-profit organization that selects its members by jury.

Between his day job and hobby paintings, Schuetz said he is always painting or sketching. “It relaxes me.”

First, he does sketches of his subjects during his visits to natural areas throughout the state. His difficult artistic choices occur next, when he’s in his studio at home in Wisconsin Dells.

“I guess when I’m painting, I’m trying to capture the moment,” Schuetz said of a piece he titled, “Hay Bales.” Choices therein related to capturing the depth of the scene: The hay bales, in the foreground, obviously have more details than the farm buildings and hills in the background. For a misty scene that he painted of Parfrey’s Glen, he used light blues for the shadows in the rocks.

“A lot of this is making color choices,” Schuetz said of his paintings, which have been displayed at Tivoli since early January. “It’s about challenging myself to capture that depth of what I’m looking at.”

It’s a process of elimination, too, such as with his piece titled, “Devil’s Woodland,” a scene at Devil’s Lake near Baraboo.

“For a wood scene with thousands of trees, the question becomes, ‘What do I include?’” he said. “Because you can’t paint every single tree. I’m in the middle of the forest and so what do I leave out?

“That’s the fun part of this,” Schuetz said of his choices. “I imagine that’s true for every artist.”

‘What a jewel we have’

The scenery in Schuetz’s art speaks to why Kathleen Jahn resides in Wisconsin: If she didn’t love the state, she said, she wouldn’t live here.

“It gives you the various perspectives of Wisconsin including its barns, its wood scenes,” the visual arts committee chairwoman at Portage Center for the Arts said. “The amount and quality of artists that our little place in the world inspires is amazing. People have to realize what a jewel we have for such a small area.”

PCA, the entity that oversees the three-month-long galleries at Tivoli, is currently showcasing the watercolors and oil paintings of Portage resident Rosemary DesIsLes in Drury Gallery.

From April through June, Jahn will be among three artists showcasing their work in a Tivoli exhibit titled, “Three Friends, Three Artists, Three Media.”

It will feature Jahn’s watercolors, Peg Napralla’s glass and Liz Gregory’s pottery.

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau or contact him at 608-695-4956.

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