Artist Michael Strauss talks about his paintings on exhibit at the UVM Medical Center.

The UVM Medical Center has been exhibiting the work of Vermont artists on the main medical center campus for several years, thanks to its ongoing partnership with Burlington City Arts. The latest exhibit showcases the work of painters Michael Strauss, Wendy James and photographer Jim Westphalen in the McClure Connector on Level 3 and in the Hematology/Oncology hallway on Level 2.

The current exhibit is on display through late November, and artwork by all three artists is available for purchase. For more information, contact Kate Ashman at kashman@ci.burlington.vt.us or 802-865-7296.

The UVM Medical Center reporter Erica Houskeeper sat down with artist Michael Strauss, of South Burlington, to talk about his acrylic and ink paintings exhibited in the Hematology/Oncology hallway on Level 2. A former chemistry professor at the University of Vermont, Michael also conducts writing and drawing workshops in Vermont. Painting is a hobby that he has enjoyed since childhood.

He has donated his paintings in the exhibit to Burlington City Arts, and all sale proceeds will benefit BCA’s programs.

“Twilight” by Michael Strauss

Q: How would you describe your paintings?

A: My paintings are impressionistic, colorist works.  Those on exhibit are high chroma acrylics and contain bright colors and shadows that people enjoy seeing. I also like paintings showing depth, so they often have roads that go into the distance, and houses that diminish in size. There are ways of using color and linear perspective to create depth, which, for me, is like a window or portal into something deeper.

Q: How long have you been painting?

A: Painting is an enjoyable hobby for me.  I am mostly self-taught and started drawing and painting as a child. I’ve taken workshops and learned from painters around the country, including Tad Spurgeon in Vermont, Ronald Swanwick in England, and Cynthia Debenedetti in California, to name a few.

Q: Much of your work depicts vibrant villages and communities that seem interconnected from one painting to the next. What inspires you to create these scenes in your paintings?

A: The buildings aren’t of any particular location, but rather places I’ve made up or adapted from images I’ve photographed. I find that painting is a never-ending process, with one painting generating an idea for another painting, and so on.

Q: Do you find similarities between chemistry and painting?

A: Absolutely. There are connections between creating a painting and solving a problem in chemistry, especially when that problem has visual elements. You create and revise repeatedly in the process of finding a solution – in both the painting and the chemistry. Both painting and drawing are forms of visual reasoning.

Q: How did you decide which paintings to display at the UVM Medical Center?

A: That took some thought.  I wanted to put up bright, engaging works at the UVM Medical Center. You want people to feel good looking at your work in this type of environment. That’s important to me.

For more information about Michael Strauss, visit www.mjstrauss.com.

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