Recently, my wife Kris and I visited Middleburg,Virginia to see some work by one of her favorite local artists. We ended up exploring the town, on what turned out to be a mild, slightly overcast afternoon, when we stumbled upon a little art gallery on South Madison Street. To our delight, the Gallery on Madison was open to the public, and there were no images of horses, foxes, or men on horses hunting foxes, to be found. Instead, we were greeted by an array of elegant, earthy yet thoroughly modern three-dimensional forms, from what looked to be visitors from another dimension. As otherworldly as these sculptures appeared to be, they were once tree branches and fallen sticks in a previous life, reborn as serene yet lively totemic figures, thanks to artist, designer and inventor Tim Maloney, who had collected the twigs, sticks and branches while hiking along the Tuscarora Trail in the mountains of northwestern Virginia.
Throughout the gallery, there were several paintings by Tim, all abstract in nature, much like the sculptures, and taking on an equally sublime presence. The paintings, whose imagery hinted at the presence of earthly lifeforms, also seemed to present the viewer with a glimpse into the artist's subconscious, and like the sculptures, seemed to have been confidently executed, simply saying what they need to say beyond the realm of verbal language.
What is always so fascinating about art of a more abstract nature, is how much it can be open to interpretation by the viewer. Upon walking into the gallery and getting an initial glimpse of Tim Maloney's work, I felt a sense of peace and calm, and was reminded of the more spiritually-influenced shapes, forms and symbolism found in the work of pioneering abstract painter Hilma af Klint, who felt her abstract paintings, created in the early 1900's, would not be ready for public consumption until forty years after she died. Strangely enough, the works shown at the Gallery on Madison by Tim Maloney, were his first to be presented to the public, in over four decades. And despite the peace and calm I felt upon viewing the works in "Totems to the Imagined and Unimagined World", there is an inventive, innovative and inquisitive burning fire within the artist that led to their creation, conceived of during the recent U.S. election, as the paintings and sculptures are infused with multiple layers of meaning, touching upon questions pertaining to our world's energy crisis and global warming, and concerns regarding who our land belongs to and how we go about claiming it and caring for it.
It's important to note that Kris and I were fortunate enough to talk with Mr. Maloney, who you'd never know played quite a prominent role in the creation of solar energy, or that he consulted the Lakota Sioux on energy efficient housing and education, or that he was is an award-winning architect whose work can be found regionally and nationally. Humble in demeanor and more than willing to take the time to talk with you, Tim Maloney and his highly prolific life work is the living embodiment of the current STEAM-based learning that is slowly but surely gaining momentum throughout the nation's public school systems.
Tim Maloney's "Totems to the Imagined and Unimagined World", presented by Un Stable Art, will be on display to the public at the Gallery on Madison, in Middleburg, Virginia, through June 29, 2017.