How to Go
What: “A Green Desire,” works by Jeff Mellott
Where: Yellow Springs Arts Council Community Gallery, 111 Corry St., Yellow Springs
When: Aug. 21-Sept. 13
Hours: 1-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays
More info: 937-767-1366 or www.ysartscouncil.org
When asked about his love of words and trees, Yellow Springs resident Jeff Mellott forms mental pictures of climbing a big willow tree in his backyard in northern California when he was 5, or his mother reading “The Hobbit” to him when he was older. Over the past six years, those mental pictures have become the inspiration for the subject of his current obsession: the symbolism of trees and how they enrich our lives.
“What is the nature of trees? How do they coexist with all of life? Man has used them for shelter, warmth and art,” said YSAC gallery coordinator Nancy Mellon.
“Wildlife make their homes in them, use them for protection and for vertical playgrounds. They feast on them. But for Jeff, it’s more mystical [than that].”
That mysticism will be on display at the Yellow Springs Arts Council Community Gallery later this month. Mellott will present about 12 works of paper collage/paintings that include both realism and surrealism. The interesting fact is the ground that Mellott chooses for his creations, the actual stories themselves.
“I just respond to the title, and then maybe the content, the actual story,” said Mellott. “Like ‘Lord of the Dance.’ The title appeals to me; it’s an old song and hymn, very interesting.”
Mellott’s work, “Lord of the Dance,” uses the late Rev. Andrew M. Greeley’s text from his passover trilogy. That is covered by a tree bearing fruit and showcases three birds. The juxtaposition of these two images is a clever way of showing the circle of life for trees.
“Out of trees comes paper, paper is used as a medium for recording words, words are used for the naming of all particular things,” said Mellott. “It is the source and the project. I start with an idea and then let it evolve, and the materials interact.”
People have used trees to tell stories, some with trees as the very basis for those tales. Mellott uses multilayering to interweave the words and images. Besides trees, influences in his work are travel, mythology, psychology, life experiences, and other aspects of our natural world.
“Jeff’s work seems timeless. It reminds me of embroidery, samplers and stillness in the moment,” said Mellon. “It makes me feel peaceful, and I am not sure why. Maybe because they combine things I love: books, words and trees.”
Contact contributing writer Pamela Dillon at email@example.com.