Sunday, September 07, 2008

Twist in the Tennessean Today

Irene Wills' paintings capture the fleeting beauty of gardens

A lifelong gardener, Irene Wills has been painting the flowers and vegetation she loves for more than two decades now. Her latest show, at Twist Art Gallery in the Arcade downtown, is called Into the Garden and features work inspired by Wills' own patch of green and by the flora that she's observed on her travels abroad. All of the pieces in her show are oil paintings. Hung primarily in gold frames, most have a sumptuous, dreamlike quality.

"I'm not trying to represent things totally realistically," said Wills, who is married to local historian and author Ridley Wills. "I'm doing a vision of what the perfect garden would look like. I've gardened for many years and I can tell you, no garden is perfect.

"Gardens don't last always," she went on to say. "I'm trying to capture something that is fleeting."

Wills' work also reminds us that, as a way of life, gardening is vanishing in the increasingly urban milieu in which many of us live.

"I think people are giving up on it," she said. "In fact, I'm now living in a condominium with a tiny little garden. So many of us are not gardening anymore. We go to the store and buy flowers. We don't think about raising them."

Rich in shades of blue, yellow ochre and coral, Wills' lush pastorals will be on view at Twist (73 Arcade) through Sept. 27. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. The exhibit is free. For more info, call 1-888-535-5286 or e-mail