The painters’ long-standing friendship perfectly turns into a joint art exhibition


“Peonies” by Karen LaValley

Those looking for a touch of spring and an example of artistic friendship will find it in “When Nature Speaks” at the Schumacher Gallery at Capital University.

Painters and longtime friends Kirsten Bowen and Karen LaValley have collaborated on an exhibition of 40 works bursting with colorful flowers and trees and a touch of poetry. Every artist revels in the beauty of nature, especially in spring and summer.

Bowen, a former Columbus resident who now lives in Harrison, New York, creates Venetian-style text-based murals with dye on wet plaster. In her paintings of woodland scenes or flowers, she surreptitiously incorporates words from her own poems or the poetry of others.

“Sun Drenched Days” features pine trees in front of a pond. The foliage on the ground as well as the water and clouds are created with rounded brushstrokes that camouflage the letters of Bowen’s poem: “Flesh streaks on sun-dreached days (glistening, trembling flesh)…”

Sunny Days by Kirsten Bowen

One of his smaller works, “Among the Trees”, pays homage to writer Katrina Mayer (“Time spent among the trees is never wasted”) and is placed next to Bowen’s huge triptych , “Meadows and dreams”. This large, bold blue and white painting includes words from Bowen’s poem of the same title.

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During the installation of the exhibition, Schumacher Gallery director David Gentilini interspersed Bowen’s paintings with those of LaValley, often according to a color palette.

“They’ve been friends forever and I wanted to show them together and pick out some tunes that dance together,” he said.

Bowen’s “Take It Easy” (with lyrics from the Eagles song) hangs below LaValley’s “Peonies.” Both works celebrate the flowers’ large pink blooms.

“Take it Easy” by Kirsten Bowen

In her work, LaValley is clearly in love with flowers and adept at capturing them. Sunflowers, daffodils, roses, peonies and more in his oil paintings.

In her “Table for One,” a glass vase of sunflowers stands on a small table in front of a lush array of what appear to be pink hydrangeas. The scene glories in an abundance of flowers.

“Table for One” by Karen LaValley

When LaValley strays from the flowers, she’s always preoccupied with nature, capturing apple orchards, California’s Joshua Tree National Park, and sleek, bare tree branches in the beautiful “Sycamore” painting.

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The exhibition has the pleasant atmosphere and nature of French flower painting. It also shows how the works of two artists can cohabit in a compatible and complementary style. So much the better that the artists are friends.

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In one look

“When Nature Speaks: Paintings by Kirsten Bowen and Karen LaValley” continues through April 9 at Capital University’s Schumacher Gallery, Fourth Floor Library, 2199 E. Main St., Bexley. Opening hours: noon to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call 614-236-6319 or visit

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Art exhibition by Kirsten Bowen, Karen LaValley through April 9


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