Marcia Streepy, “Crossroads” 30 x 40 inches
Marcia Streepy has an uncanny sense of recall. Ask her about any of her paintings, and she’ll tell you when it was made, where she lived at the time, and some anecdote about what was going on in her life.
Memory is at the core of her prolific art practice, and her desire to capture everything she observes has manifested itself as a rich body of work that spans more than four decades.
“Glorious Days,” a collaboration between the artist and curator Polly Alice McCann, is a retrospective exhibition currently on view at InterUrban ArtHouse. Following a diagnosis last year of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Streepy began to discuss with McCann how she could best get her enormous personal collection of work in front of the public. The space is brimming with paintings, pastel works and sculpture from various stages of the artist’s career.
The show’s title references memories of many fine days spent creating outdoors. An avid plein air painter, the artist often turns to the topography of her native Kansas to articulate her sense of the spiritual in nature. In “Sunrise,” the largest painting in the exhibition, thick swipes of impasto form loose strokes, conjuring the memory of a dreamy spring morning spent on the plains. “Flint Hill Road” is a painterly exploration of a rolling Kansas prairie cleaved by a seemingly endless road, winding out across the landscape under billowing clouds. The sublime solitude of these hills has inspired many a poet; Streepy also feels a special reverence. “Painting with friends in the Flint Hills is what time with God must be like,” she once commented.
The show also includes many of the artist’s “Cityscape” paintings and pastels, featuring scenes from Kansas City and other urban locations. The views often recede into an alley, side street or other intimate space. In “Crossroads,” an abstracted glimpse between two buildings leaves us to wonder what lies beyond, and “City Market” beckons us through the arched entry to join the bustling shoppers. Streepy says she is fascinated with the spaces in between; when given the stage, these often-overlooked places offer up surprising details to the viewer.
A variety of her portrait works are included, affectionate renderings of family members as well as anonymous subjects. As with her landscape and urban depictions, well-honed observation skills are applied to recreate images of people she has encountered over the years. There are portraits that reflect her keen interest in fashion, such as the power-suited figures in “Mad Women,” and the iconic “Audrey.” Recent portraits of her grandchildren are more loosely rendered but nonetheless reflect her loving attention to detail.
Visiting the show, viewers may find the artist holding court with her patrons, friends and family, sharing the memories that have found their way onto her easel. A portion of sales will benefit the Mid-America chapter of the ALS Association.
“Glorious Days: A Retrospective by Marcia Streepy” continues at InterUrban Arthouse, 8001 Newton St., Overland, Park, through June 5. Hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and by appointment; masks required. For more information, 913.283.7091 or www.interurbanarthouse.org.