Neon. Flowers waiting in an ice bucket. A swan made from your bath towel to greet you. Mary Grace Tate captures the landscape of life we take for granted, transforming each space she enters into an appreciation of the hidden lines around us every day.
There is an earnest connection to the everyday made as Tate captures the proximal landscape of lodging and its nearly uncanny imitation of life, in melodramatic fashion. In All That But Nicer, Mary Grace, a member of the SNC MFA-IA program’s inaugural cohort, guides us through an illustrated archive of her painted travelogue.
All That is the result of six months of stays in roadside motels encircling Lake Tahoe. “From check in to check out, I was the plein air painter of my suite,” writes Mary Grace. In line with her reference to the 19th Century tradition of landscape painting, Tate allows the paint to be paint, melding illusion with observation.
The result is realism guided by impression and recognizable details, arranged by an appreciative sensibility. All That But Nicer functions as an installed whole, with her archive framed by the lamps and bedside tables of the motel room and arranged around an impressionistic faux fireplace. The window outside the exhibit holds a neon “Open?” sign, humorously referencing the often deteriorating state of motel signage.
As an element of her work, the playful inversion of a familiar holiday excursion is not new. In Fish House/Human House, Mary Grace created a series of five acrylic panels describing the behaviors of homo sapiens alongside informative illustrations that enhance the trouts’ understanding of our lifestyle displayed at the Sagehen Creek Field Research Station’s Fish House, a viewing area for the Cutthroat trout habitat.
Mary Grace Tate is an interdisciplinary artist currently pursuing her MFA at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, NV. Her work delves into the unintentional residue of our lived experience. The language on plastic bags, neon signs, and scrawls left on bathroom stalls are framed as earnest attempts for connection between the maker and the viewer. Her resulting representational paintings offer a humorous and sincere lens with which to view the world.