Cartoonish pine bushes, flat skies, and billowing American flags converge on the canvases of octogenarian painter Jessie Homer French. Final 12 months, in response to the politicization of the USA Postal Service throughout Trump’s presidency, the artist documented a number of publish workplace places that had been both defunded or prone to being closed. Remoted planes of brick crimson and institutional grey set the constructions other than their surrounding environments, that are at turns dramatically verdant and arid. Unpeopled, the scenes are eerie, save for the occasional passing canine or bobcat.
All-caps textual content and zip codes painted onto the canvases determine every rural location: Mountain Heart, California; Rensselaerville, New York; Vida, Oregon; and Winter Harbor, Maine. (One image from the 2020–22 sequence depicts a publish workplace that has since burned down alongside Oregon’s Blue and Mackenzie rivers.) Homer French lives in an unincorporated mountain city a couple of hundred miles from Los Angeles; her contact with the skin world is proscribed to a landline phone and handwritten letters.
The artist’s deadpan strategy to depicting morose topics—loss of life, decay, ruination—is finest distilled in her cemetery work. On the backside of those works, we see registers of cheerfully dressed corpses of their coffins. Within the exhibition’s namesake, Roots, 2021, modest tombstones with Anglo-Saxon final names—Porter, Smith, Turner—punctuate a inexperienced garden, whereas the initials “J+R” are carved into the bark of an enormous tree within the foreground. (The letters stand for the primary names of the artist and her late husband Robin, who died in September 2021.)
The artist spends six months drying out every of her canvases. This motive, together with the inclusion of a number of of her works within the 2022 Venice Biennale, is likely to be in charge for the small scale of her present right here. It’s a stable however slender look into the apply of an artist who’s a longtime recluse and, now, rising star.