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November 10,1991

The Los Angeles Times

ART NOTEBOOK
"Northwest Exposure" by Nancy Kapitoff
    NORTHWEST EXPOSURE: Tatistcheff gallery director Terrence Rogers said that when people come in to see Seattle area artist Kurt Solmssen's landscape paintings, they often remark, "I'd like to be there," or "I want to live there." No wonder. Solmssen's 11 oil-on-canvas paintings of the area around his Puget Sound home depict clear blue skies and water, inviting green lawns and sunny porches. In these scenes, his wife and neighbors peacefully read books and contemplate the horizon without a hint of disturbance.
     Painting about 70% of the time outdoors, Solmssen captures the bright Pacific Northwest light of summer and fall that casts definitive shadows and gently reflects upon the water the area's tall trees and comfortable-looking houses. Although his work is reminiscent of Edward Hopper's engrossing, realistic paintings of people in their local surroundings, Solmssen's paintings are without the melancholy or disconcerting feelings that lurk in many of Hopper's images.
     I n "Harry's Golden Hour,1991" Harry appears thoughtful but not troubled as he looks out over the calm waters of Puget Sound. In fact, no one seems to suffer from Angst here, not Mate in"October, Mate's test, 1990," who is studying for a test, nor Solmssen, who holds his 1-week-old daughter in "Marsha's First Week, 1991." Quiet yet compelling, his paintings pull viewers into the landscape, beckoning them to come and see if it really is as nice as it seems.

"Kurt Solmssen. Paintings," at Tatistcheff gallery, 1547 10th St., Santa Monica, through Nov. 30 Open 10a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.Call (310) 395-8807

Kapitoff writes regularly about art for Westside/Valley Calendar.