OCTOBER 24 – NOVEMBER 28, 2014


SEDIMENTS — SYMPHONY IN ROSE MAJOR is a tribute to the layers, complexities, and harmonies that constitute our core: that place where every action, thought, dream and fear has settled and where hope continues to soar.


DON KOTTMANN recieved his MFA from the University of Washington, Seattle. He has exhibited widely in the U.S., nationally and internationally as a representative of Canada. Kottmann is a 2014 nominee for the Joan Mitchell Painting Grant. He has taught at several U.S. institutions, and currently holds a teaching position at the Alberta College of Art and Design.



Don Kottmann’s paintings make me think of a quotation from Josef Albers, who said that, “abstraction is real, probably more real than nature. I prefer to see with closed eyes.” Albers’ words are profound and playful, qualities that can be ascribed to Kottmann’s candid work. What Albers alludes to is the world behind our eyes, the realm of dreams, interior rhythms, passions and losses. the internal animates our perception of the external, and often eclipses it in vibrancy and significance. In this way, what is abstract is indeed real, less tangible than a tree or a leaf, and yet insistently present.

Because the artist mines the riches of the non-material world, “the search for structure is always ongoing, a mobile feast, always just out of reach” (Kottmann, August 13,2014). The artist “prides himself on invention” and often employs paired oppostitions to energize his imaginary sites and conjured, kinetic forces. Thus, raw incidents of mark and gesture about resolved passages of lyrical and finely rendered pigments. Heavy marks, fat with girth and substance share common space with insubstantial and evanescent drips and skeins of thin pigment that barely skim the painted surface. These variations in paint quality effect the manner in which hue and lightly play across the canvas, allowing the artist to compose with color in the manner of a musician, letting paint agglomerate and condense into segments that are slow and ponderous and then thinning the paint to allow it to dash and to skitter. The varied tempos of marks, the mobility and emotion in the paint, the sometimes vibrant, sometimes discortant colors interact together unpredictably. The resulting works of art capture pure creative energy that speaks beyond itself to eulogize the frenzy ot time unfurling, the grace and aggression of the body in motion, nature in constant flux, the ephemeral and the permanent. It is remarkable to witness one of Kottmann’s works and to see how the simplicity of paint can be whipped and shaped into visual poetry.

Don Kottmann has devoted his life to the making of art. The artist divides his time between Kansas City, Missouri and Calgary, Alberta, where he teaches at the Alberta College of Art and Design. He describes, with rueful humor, Friday nights spent at work in his studio, aware that others are relaxing, sharing wine and companionship while he labours alone. What he seeks to achieve is not easy, and demands his full attention. His work ethic and his solutide are choices. He is expressing a world outside words capture in painted gesture.

The sculptor Constantin Brancusi wrote that ‘What is real is not the external form, but the essence of things… it is impossible for anyone to express anything essentially real by imitating its exterior surface.” The work of Don Kottmann is immensly generous and lyrical, never imitating and always demanding unalloyed invention. In voyaging inwards, he allows his viewer to look outwards with renewed faith in the beauty and mysterty of the world.


Tanya Hartman attended The Rhode Island School of Design (BFA) and Yale University (MFA). She now teaches painting and drawing at the University of Kansas where she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Art. She exhibits work nationally and writes for the Kansas City Star. Please visit for more information on Hartman.