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THE MAIDEN CREEK SERIES: New Watercolor Drawings by Matthew Daub

July 30, 2013

In Matthew Daub’s newest body of work, The Maiden Creek Series, his subject is a twenty-two mile stretch along Maiden Creek, a rural tributary of Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill River. Depicting specific sites along the way, and identified only by their latitude and longitude coordinates that serve as the title of each image, Daub’s finely rendered, near-monochromatic watercolor panoramas are experienced not as landscape but of place: place as a private world with its own interior life; place as somewhere to linger and explore deeply or where we are encouraged, indeed commanded, to move on, the place it- self escorting us along the road. Though Daub doesn’t include people in these scenes, human life and activity are manifest in the narrative. People, after all, built the bridge, carved the road, erected the sign, work on the farm or at the mill, live in the house. The effects of human presence are inescapable. Generally about twenty inches wide but shallow in height, some only about seven inches, the panorama format gives the imagery additional scope, bringing into our immediate experience what would normal- ly be in our peripheral vision. At the same time, Daub places limits on that experience by working in such a restricted height. The sky, physically as well as philosophically an endless space, is often a minor pres- ence or outside our view altogether. Daub thereby keeps our attention focused on the delimited reality of physical life, bound to the ground we walk on but rich with presences natural, imposed and surmised. Daub considers these works watercolor drawings rather than paintings, resulting in a far more exact- ing imagery than watercolor generally exhibits. Though the palette is nearly monochromatic, Daub explores a range and richness of tonalities usually experienced in drawings or etchings. The textures he elicits from his application of transparent watercolor—lichen on a concrete balustrade, a pile of grav- el, the surface of dirt roads—is testament to h