December 3, 2015  |  Yosemite and Yellowstone gallery  (click here to read review)
Luther College Chips by Danny May

December 3, 2015  |  ‘Yellowstone and Yosemite’ on display at Luther College (click here to read review)
Pamela Kendall Schiffer’s work a meditation on light and landscape, and a celebration of the natural world.
Decorah Newspaper

May 11, 2011   |   Pamela Kendall Schiffer at Easton Gallery (click here to read review
Contemporary Landscape Paintings on View through June 5. 
Santa Barbara Independent By Charles Donelan

June 22, 2010   |   Ucross Foundation Exhibit (click here for the full pdf brochure)
Summer 2010 exhibit at The Ucross Foundation, CLearmont, WY.

Feb. 19, 2010   |   Left Field Landscape Art — Two of the (click here to read review)
Left Field Landscape Art---Two of the more intriguing S.B.-based landscape artists come together for a complementary show at the Elverhoj Museum.
Santa Barbara News-Press By Josef Woodard

Oct. 10, 2008   |   Three views, three viewpoints (click here to read review)
Pamela Kendall Schiffer, Chris Chapman and Michael Enriquez demonstrate the varied possibilities of approach to landscape art.
Santa Barbara News-Press By Josef Woodard

Jun. 30, 2006  |  Painting a Foggy Picture (click here to read review)
Mood- and light-sensitive landscape painter Schiffer presents an exhibition at the Easton Gallery. 
Santa Barbara News-Press By Josef Woodard

Nov. 12, 2004  |  Subtle Place Settings (click here to read review)
Pamela Kendall Schiffer demonstrates the power of subtlety and taking landscape-art roads less taken.
Santa Barbara News-Press, By Josef Woodard

Oct. 31, 2002  |  Natural Tendencies (click here to read review)
Pamela Kendall Schiffer and Patricia Hedrick. At the Easton Gallery, through December 1.
Santa Barbara Independent, By Josef Woodard

Jan. 3, 2002  | Mists and Chickens
The Independent by D.J. Palladino

Feb. 22, 2001  |  From Nature's Palette
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Dec. 15, 1994  |  Minor Key
The Independent by Judith Callender


Left Field Landscape Art---Two of the more intriguing S.B.-based landscape artists come together for a complementary show at the Elverhoj Museum

Santa Barbara News-Press By Josef Woodard

February 19, 2010 12:00 AM
'ESSENTIAL LANDSCAPES'
When: through April 30
Where: Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, 1624 Elverhoy Way, in Solvang
Gallery hours: 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday

It should come as no surprise that Santa Barbara has more than its fair share of landscape artists, and many very fine ones. The area's natural beauty and clement climate makes for an inherently high appeal, as a place to live and as a place to paint. But there are landscapes painters and then there are landscape painters, those who seek to find new avenues of expression, simultaneously both in and outside of the time-honored tradition.

Two of Santa Barbara's more interesting and inventive landscape artists, Phoebe Brunner and Pamela Kendall Schiffer, have converged in a two-person exhibition in Solvang's Elverhoj Museum. The pairing is complementary, even though — and partly because — each goes her own particular way.

Schiffer's artistic development in the last few years has been fascinating to observe. She often works with a misty, soft-focus effect, oddly lurking in a between-zone where impressionism and photo-realism meet, and get along. In addition to her paintings, the show features several fruits of her labor, in lithographs and ink and wash pieces, developed in Livingston, Mont., as part of a Ucross Foundation residency.

At the Elverhoj, Schiffer shows small, beguiling nature scenes, lazy, hazy and lyrical scenarios with expanses of land, hills and the occasional oak or bovine protagonists as a footnote. "Thirteen Cows Grazing" is just that, viewed from on high and serving as ripe visual props. In the strangely compelling "Longhorn," a lone cow lays down in a barren bluff overlooking the ocean, unexpectedly inviting meditation on the state of things. Art can do that, sometimes when you least expect it.

She knows how to work fog for expressive worth, with the mystically misty "Fog Over the Meadow." Similarly, the title informs us of the subject in "Shade of a Winter Day," with its natural muting of light. Other larger, brighter canvases feature plant life in totemic spotlight, as in "Agave Stalk, Blue Sky." A particularly striking painting, "From Camino Cielo, Yucca and Fog," combines both her atmospheric and flora-minded work, blending a well-lit single plant form in the foreground, with a dark, fog-enshrouded vista extending down the mountain and to the sea. It's a thick visual plot, but poetry is at hand.

By contrast to Schiffer's general approach, Brunner uses a louder palette and more vivid iconography. Yet she pushes past the realm of trusty landscape art conventions and into the realm of dreams. The real and the dream-like often meet in her paintings, which are created in the studio rather than in the field, "plein air" fashion. "Ranchito" takes in busy, bulbous cloudscapes in a crisp blue sky, hovering over golden, amber oak trees and tilting hillsides. A kind of implied visual energy and dynamism is at work here.

"Guiding Light" offers a different brand of lyrically irrational painterly drama, with its stormy sky above a stately green field and clutch of trees anchoring the composition. A vertically pitched canvas, "Magic Dawn" is smaller and subtler, creating a sense of balance between emergent dawn sky, eucalyptus trees and orderly rows of crops below.

All in all, though, this selection of work veers closer to landscape art in the conventional sense than some of her more fantastical and metaphorical landscape paintings of old. She's finding ways to mediate between realism and magic realism, as in "Wandering Oaks," in which it seems as if the large brown oaks could be animated by mobility and set off wandering. Such is the extended reality imbued in her art.

Although the show is called "Essential Landscape," the adjectives ethereal and surreal could be reasonably be applied. An underlying notion we take away from the show is that these artists are grasping at some "essence" of landscape rather than crisp visual reports, captured or imposed in the artists' studios and/or minds.


Three views, three viewpoints

Pamela Kendall Schiffer, Chris Chapman and Michael Enriquez demonstrate the varied possibilities of approach to landscape art. Santa Barbara News-Press, October 10, 2008, By Josef Woodard.

For anyone seeking out examples of the famously enriched landscape art scene in Santa Barbara, a prime place to find the good stuff is a particular house/gallery in Montecito that has been a valued fixture on the scene for many years. The Easton Gallery, run by Ellen Easton, is a place where landscape art unapologetically rules.

No apology is necessary, it so happens. Quality and vision run hot here, and even landscape art naysayers may find themselves re-checking their biases. Her current exhibition (of three solo shows), featuring Pamela Kendall Schiffer, Chris Chapman and Michael Enriquez, embodies the notion that landscape art, far from being a monolithic channel in art culture, is a genre rife with possibilities for variety, in approach and aesthetics.

In a sense, the secret treasure in the current exhibition is the quietly fascinating new work of Schiffer, whose compact gold-framed oil paintings are discreetly tucked back in a separate room, the better for isolating the viewing experience. In a show she aptly titles “Of This World: New Paintings,” the painter shows small paintings with a big presence, her strongest work yet in a process that has been evolving since she has shown here (and elsewhere in the country).

Schiffer’s work seems to be moving, by gentle degrees, away from conventional plein air values, into something vaguely mystical yet hyper-attentive to material details of the artist’s perception of nature. It’s art of this world, and yet detached from it. “Morning Fog, Columbia River” and “Morning Fog, Miramar Beach” embed hints of material strength beneath the mist. From a more visually crisp end of the spectrum, “Against the Light, Agave and Island” and “From Camino Cielo: Yucca and Fog” focuses on plant forms in the foreground, set against distant panoramas. They offer subtle drama, a protagonist’s allegory.

Often with muted colors and careful manipulation of light and atmosphere, Schiffer demonstrates a beguiling poetry of restraint, and yet the detail work is impressive, even verging on a kinship to photo-realism. But it’s a refined kinship. Her painterly approach is a work-in progress, and one worth tracking.

Note:
Joe Woodard included Schiffer’s “Of this World: New Paintings” exhibit at the Easton Gallery in the Santa Barbara News-Press’ annual selection of “Best of 2008.”


Painting a Foggy Picture

Mood-and light-sensitive landscape painter Schiffer presents an exhibition at the Easton Gallery
Santa Barbara News-Press June 30, 2006 - By Josef Woodard

In Pamela Kendall Schiffer’s ascetically understated and small-scaled paintings, the subtlety of the art requires the viewer to look with an unusually calm, close-up scrutiny. Ideally, one should hush the chatter and noise of everyday thoughts to get in the right mental zone to appreciate this art, although the art itself will aid in that process.

This is not to say that Schiffer calls on overtly meditative tactics in her work, other than the inherent contemplation involved in creating a painting well-painted, a visual scenario well-conveyed. There are plenty of these small victories in her latest exhibition at the Easton Gallery, under the show title “Defined by Light.” These paintings are, in fact, defined by light, and often by the lack thereof. As with her last show in this space, Schiffer digs into her favored format of mostly small, muted and moody paintings in no hurry to dazzle with scenery or extroverted effects. Hers is a landscape style refreshingly varied from the norm, as much about the feeling in the air of a foggy day or in the half light of dawn or dusk.

She also tends to favor spare nature settings, as well, free of the usual grandeur of details.

The main points of interest in “Still Morning in June” are a curving stretch of railroad tracks and a eucalyptus tree. “Morning Glow, Devereux” is one of several paintings depicting this notably magical stretch of land and beach, just north of Isla Vista, but with an emphasis on the haze of atmosphere more than fine points. The brightest, bluest sky in this show of paintings is in “Winged Clouds over the Pasture,” which almost appears like a conventional landscape painting, except for the minimalism of its scenery.

We do get a darkly witty bit of detail in the painting “Striped Winter Sky”—in the form of pernicious oil platforms marring the ocean’s horizon line. Birds appear, but are only faintly visible, in the nocturnal scene “Night Gulls at Anacapa.” Again, we strain to make sense of the painting, but it’s a happy and rewarding strain.

One of the most surreal paintings of the lot is also the largest and potentially the most pragmatically pictorial.

In “Early Morning at Carpinteria Beach,” the scene of beach-fishing from the sand is neatly presented in the composition. All seems to be in order, except that the faded, vaporous density of the image makes it seem like something out of a dream, not quite made of matter.


Subtle Place Settings

Pamela Kendall Schiffer demonstrates the power of subtlety and taking landscape-art roads less taken. 
Santa Barbara News-Press, November 12, 2004 - By Josef Woodard

Anyone wondering why landscape art, plein air and otherwise, is such a potent and recurrent subject in Santa Barbara galleries needs only do some simple math to find the answer. A region with dazzling natural splendors tends to inspire dazzling nature-oriented art, not to mention exerting a strong lure for artists so inclined.

Given the local landscape predisposition in galleries, though, the challenge for artists becomes to find a unique place in a busy and talented pack. Some of the finer area artists in the “landscape business” find their way into the Easton Gallery in Montecito. Pamela Kendall Schiffer, currently presenting her debut solo show, takes notable steps to the left of the tradition, in an exhibition both conspicuously diverse and coherent, in terms of medium and perspective.

In her aptly titled show, “The Power of Place,” Schiffer has some refreshing new ideas and approaches in her landscapes, beachscapes and what could be called “atmospherescapes.” The latter notion is invested in small, evocatively textural paintings like “Fog” and “Horizon.” The point in “Horizon,” for instance, is not the bottom-hugging grounding horizon line, but the delicate color gradations of a twilight sky.

In other highlights of the show, she veers in an opposite direction, locking her focus in on bold, disarming details of plant life. “Agave Stalk, Blue Sky” describes its subject in the title, but the real charm of the painting lies in the crisp observational powers at work, as well as the cryptic effect of odd framing—what is left out is as mind-catching as what we see. 

“Yuccas by Moonlight,” another strange and wonderful piece described with a deceptive clarity in the title, is a severely light-limited, nocturnal view. Intense scrutiny is required to make out details, but the painting relies on the inherent effects of nature under night’s blanket to convey a natural sense of mystery—and place.

Other smaller paintings in the show take different routes to expression, whether the soft and dark palette of “Gaviota Hills” or the delicate air of “Agave Stalk, Brown,” almost suggesting an antique, sepia-toned photograph.

Schiffer’s paintings of Bixby Ranch almost go out of their way to avoid over-dramatizing pictorialism. Its planes and fields are viewed as if through a dream lens, murkily. 

When she looks at surf, she pares down instead of zooming out, resulting in the tight focus of “A Single Wave,” singularly impressive in its understatement. Her paintings of birds in the glistening wave-splashed sand are studies in visual rhythm and echoes.

Deceptively cool and spare, Schiffer’s art often gears itself toward muted tones and hazy layers. Sometimes, her work can seem austere in its tautly-trained attentions, more obsessed with a single agave stalk or a single wave than the sweep of contoured land. It all comes together in an aesthetic guided by an abiding taste for subtlety and mystery. She’s on to something nature-reverent, and on admirably personal terms.


Natural Tendencies

Pamela Kendall Schiffer and Patricia Hedrick. At the Easton Gallery, through December 1.
Santa Barbara Independent, October 31, 2002 - By Josef Woodard

Nature comes to visit, as is her wont, in the current two-person show at the Easton Gallery. And, as is usually the case, the art on the Easton walls deals with landscape in sensitive, personalized ways. Pamela Kendall Schiffer and Patricia Hedrick make for complementary exhibition-mates because of their proximities and distinctions, and the fact that both are clearly tied to the natural cause.

Drama plays out in subtle ways, in many works here. The heroic protagonist in Schiffer’s “Agave” is a lone agave plant in sunlight, with tilting eucalyptus trees in the background. She goes horizontal with the wide view in “Fenceline at Hollister,” creating a tapestry of rolling green, yawning blue, and an arcing line of fence woven into a harmonious painting.

Mood-encoded light is the order of business in “Shade of Winter Day,” a nice, sparse landscape celebrating its shade-flecked scenery. With Schiffer’s “Clouds,” a small, almost abstract piece, nebulousness is the operative word here....

For local color—and, by extension, local preservationist power—Schiffer gives us the aptly and accurately titled “Flaxen Light, San Marcos Hills” and “Dense Fog at Parma Park.” These are two inspiring and lesser-trafficked stretches of unspoiled land in Santa Barbara, sites ripe for open-eyed artists and other living things.

The impressive work by both artists reminds us that, in the right hands and with the right investigative mind-set, landscape is a world of endless expressive possibility.