Peeping Toms...I mean, painters

Two artists glancing through the same window may see the same hills, the same river, the same trees--but they damn sure won't paint them all the same way. Two Texas painters, Julie Lazarus and Bruno Andrade, both concern themselves with landscape. Though their takes on flora and fauna come from separate ends of the visual spectrum--Lazarus' fully abstracted geometrics against Andrade's primitivist representational work--their two-person show at Edith Baker Gallery, called Through a Window, is surprisingly cohesive. Each artist's work takes up one-half of the space; stand in the middle and take it all in. From both sides you are joyfully bombarded with primary colors, hefty and satisfying lines, and a real sense that both artists love what they see.

Lazarus, a Fort Worth artist who travels extensively, has painted a new slew of works surrounding her recent trip to Venice. Like Diebenkorn, her landscapes focus on the "feel" of the place rather than the tangibles: earthy, dense, crowded, humid, and thriving. Water, pavement, centuries-old architecture--it all becomes texture and emotion in Lazarus' large oil-on-canvas works (a master printmaker, she also paints on wood and occasionally throws in linocut and monotype accents). All of it is framed through windows of a hotel, a bus, a taxi--whatever she looks through to give herself perspective and memory reference. The effect is like a smooth, broad mosaic, or as Lazarus herself puts it, like "the clear, rich colors of [Venetian] glass." True enough.

Andrade, a professor of painting at Texas A&M at Corpus Christi, has emerged from a series of personal traumas to paint a new series of landscapes that reflect his returning peace of mind. Evoking his Hispanic heritage, these big oil paintings also pay homage to the relentlessly bright colors of Fauvism and the flat perspective and decorative borders of Matisse. "Always Pure Joy," a river flowing through a setting of trees, has all the buzzing impact of Andre Derain's 1906 masterpiece "The Turning Road, L'Estaque." Think of John Lennon's lyrical scenarios in "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (Picture yourself in a boat on a river...) and you get the idea; a wonderful mind-bending trip to another place entirely--a much friendlier place, at that.

Like most gallery-represented artists, these two come with their own carefully composed "artist statement." A line in Lazarus' reads: "The work is fairly abstract, but every line and form is representative of what I saw." A line from Andrade's reads: "When you are aware of nature day to day, it becomes easier to go into the studio, close the door, and paint how you are affected by it rather than paint the appearance of it." Though these two had never seen each other's work prior to this show, it sounds as though they're writing about one another's work rather than their own.

Two artists: same world, different approach? More like same world, same approach, and miraculously different styles.

Works by Julie Lazarus and Bruno Andrade, show through June 12 at Edith Baker Gallery, 2404 Cedar Springs (at Maple), Dallas. (214) 855-5101.

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Christina Rees