Buffalo is fortunate to have many talented people call the city home. From music to pottery, Buffalo is full of creative residents. Two of those residents are a married couple who create landscapes that capture the drama of light and contrast the shape of industry against the horizon.
Jenny Wuerker has always enjoyed painting wide-open landscapes; Aaron Wuerker, her husband, has always enjoyed painting landscapes that share shape but contrast the colors and textures with mechanical devices, such as old farm equipment or power transfer stations.
The creative couple own Crazy Woman Fine Art Gallery and paint in a small studio at 5 N. Lobban St. in Buffalo. Now through Dec. 22, the Wuerkers’ landscapes can be viewed at the Brinton Museum as part of the Brinton 101 – an exhibition of small works.
The exhibition comes with size restrictions: Each painting can only be 8 inches by 10 inches. But that’s an increase from previous years when the exhibition required submissions to be no bigger than 6 inches by 6 inches.
“It’s a wonderful show,” Jenny Wuerker said. “We have shown at the Brinton quite a few times. It’s a really fun show. It has about a hundred different artists that are in it, and they squeeze them all in with 8 by 10 or smaller.”
Inspired by the open plains and valleys of the West, Jenny paints large, sweeping landscapes.
“I’m a landscape painter working in oils,” Jenny said. “I often work really large. It’s funny, sometimes I’m working on a 12-foot-across painting and I have to do small work for the show at the Brinton and I’ll be working on a 6 inch by 6 inch. It’s fun to work so small.”
Jenny paints to capture natural lighting against her landscapes, adding drama, she said. She painted the works on display at the Brinton to present the bold colors that can be seen in the sky as the light bounces and moves through clouds.
“They are at that time of day when the light just vibrates,” Jenny said. “When it’s just gorgeous.”
Jenny works “en plein air,” a French term meaning to paint outdoors.
“The paintings are landscapes, and they are from direct observation,” Jenny said. “Sometimes I am working from an image, but many times I’ve painted the places directly.”
Aaron is fascinated by the correlation of mechanical devices and the surrounding landscapes. His eye picks up shape similarities between landscapes and the man-made structures that dot the plains.
“For several years, I’ve done these landscapes that have mechanical things in them,” Aaron said. “Bridges, bridge abutments, industrial equipment and things like that. I am usually looking for some way that the geometry of these man-made things mimic or reflect the shapes from the natural landscape.”
Aaron isn’t sure why he enjoys the geometrical shapes and contrast, but he has been painting the scenes for over 30 years.
“I’ve just always wanted to paint that kind of stuff,” Aaron said. “What I’ve tried to do is make it less a subject of the mechanical things and more the subject of the interaction of those (mechanical) shapes with the shapes in the landscape.”
Finding inspiration in Johnson County is easy, according to the Wuerkers. Aaron has driven past locations with intentions to create works based on them for years. Many times, when he can make the time to paint, he does a series of paintings based on the object and location.
“Around here we have these kind of hard geometric lines on our horizon line,” Aaron said. “We don’t have fluffy trees on our horizon. Most directions you look around here you’ve got the square edge of buttes or the horizon that have little bumps and triangles on it.”
The Wuerkers each have three paintings on display at the Brinton until the conclusion of the Brinton 101 exhibition on Dec. 22.