Artist captures beauty of Kentucky trees

Charles Brindley details his works and process to a crowd in his exhibit, “Salient Features: Trees of Old Forest and Woodland Pastures”, on September 25th. Brindley and The Kentucky Museum host this artist talk to boost gallery community interaction.

Julie Sisler

A gallery featuring paintings of trees may not sound like the most vibrant place in the world, but to Salient Trees exhibit artist Charles Brindley, it can be just that.

Brindley said the trees in Kentucky’s region show an interesting contrast between the open fields and large trees that he wanted to capture in his work.

“The mid section of Kentucky and the Nashville Central Basin contain the largest concentration of woodland pasture trees, or trees in open fields, in North America,” Brindley said. “I thought it would be interesting to focus on trees in open fields contrasted with trees in old forests, to create an exhibit honoring the massive trees of this region.”

Brent Bjorkman, director of the Kentucky Museum, said the region is a distinct area in the United States. For him, the exhibit is about showcasing the unique beauty of Kentucky.

“Our museum’s goal is to show Kentucky to Kentuckians, and that’s really one of the primary focuses of the exhibit,” Bjorkman

The exhibit features a variety of different drawings and paintings of Kentucky and Nashville Basin woodland pasture trees, each with a unique take on the landscape.

Some of the pieces feature bright, vibrant colors and distinct brush strokes or detailed, graphite shading that set them apart from some of the other more traditional pictures.

Bjorkman and Brindley originally started working on the project two years ago when they met at the U.S. Bank art show. They began brainstorming with the intention of finding a way to create an exhibit that showed an integral but unique part of Kentuckian heritage. Bjorkman said he and Brindley wanted to help people understand where they’re from and what really makes their “place.”

“So many of our students come from this middle part of our state, and I want to instill pride and show that we should be proud of this place,” Bjorkman said.

Brindley, a Nashville native, decided at age 17 to pursue a career in art. He works primarily with graphite drawing and oil painting, which are modes used in the Salient Trees exhibit, and his subjects are “rock formations, panoramic landscapes, architecture, still lifes and trees.”

Brindley said he viewed the Salient Trees exhibit as a worthwhile project, which drives his art.

“I define my life through creating and actualizing projects,” Brindley said.

Though Brindley has been working on this project for two years, the work is not over. He continues to host talks and workshops with the exhibit.

On Monday, the Kentucky Museum hosted an artist and collector forum featuring Brindley and a panel of art collectors.

“Through the artist and collector forum, we hope to discuss topics that include aspects of the business of art promotion and sales and what is required from the artist to be successful in those areas,” Brindley said.

Brindley said the subjects covered are those that most art institutions don’t cover but are extremely important to working artists.

Brindley will also be hosting color and drawing workshops during the month of November, as well as another gallery talk. Event information can be found on the Kentucky Museum’s website.

“You may be from here and you see them all around you, but maybe it takes an exhibit like this to make you really think about it,” Bjorkman said. “Maybe it takes this exhibit to make you realize that you do live in a beautiful place.”

The exhibit is housed in the Kentucky Museum and runs through Dec. 1. 

Features reporter Julie Sisler can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow Julie on social media at @julie_sisler.