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Under the Violet Sky
Lynn Taber, Gail Marcus-Orlen & William Lesch

Lynn Taber Gail Marcus-Orlen William Lesch

Dates: March 18 – June 5, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 22, 2013, 7-10 pm
Location: Etherton Gallery
135 S. Sixth Avenue
Gallery Hours: 11 - 5 Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment
Contact: info@ethertongallery.com, 624-7370


Human time on earth is short, as ephemeral as a cloud over the desert. Desert time is long and slow; from the soft light of dawn to the sharp edges of noon to the deep glow of twilight, it is a miracle that has been occurring every day for ten thousand years. 
                                                                         – William Lesch


Etherton Gallery is pleased to present Under the Violet Sky featuring a selection of new work by William Lesch, Gail Marcus-Orlen and Lynn Taber. The exhibition includes a selection of Lesch’s extended exposure color landscape photographs; Taber’s pastel views of the horizon, and Marcus-Orlen’s oil on canvas, stylized landscapes. Captivating us with their personal observations on Tucson’s abundant and varied landscape, Lesch, Marcus-Orlen and Taber weave a rich tapestry of place. The exhibition opens with an artist reception on Saturday, March 22, 2014, 7-10pm. All artists will attend.

William Lesch has spent over 30 years hiking, climbing, and rough camping in the most rugged and remote areas of the Southwest, and his photographs reflect his intimate knowledge of the Sonoran Desert including its “savage heat, brutal drought, ferocious thunderstorms.” As he says, “It is a land that shapes your thoughts, assaults your soul, then reveals its beauty.”  Often made from elevated viewpoints, Lesch’s commanding views offer up majestic landscapes in which nature always overpowers the man-made. Although first known for his intensely saturated images of the desert at night, his color photography has evolved over time. His recent images include the extremes of the spectrum. Under the Violet Sky includes photographs in which vast slurry, and purple skies shot through with lightning overwhelm the city and distant mountains. Just as his photographs address the effect of “desert time” on the landscape, Lesch’s photographs continue to demonstrate his mastery of the desert’s glorious light and palette.  

Lynn Taber’s pastels capture the essence of the Sonoran Desert, evoking the long, slow scorching heat of time, segmented by linear bands of color and wet clouds.  Influenced by country music, Taber’s pastels have a lyrical rhythm that almost read like musical notes hovering in and around the lines of the staff. Made in the studio, her hand-rubbed pastels share a profound sensibility with William Lesch’s photographs, which he describes as a “desert fugue in extended measure.” Taber also captures the heat and primordial quality of the desert skies. However, Taber engages with the desert in a more abstract way, and seen from a distance, her pastels resemble Native American textile designs.

A disciplined studio painter, Gail Marcus-Orlen channels a desert Arcadia, a charming, imagined world of bliss with cottonwood groves along flowing riparian streams with purple mountains glowing against orange skies. Actually, her constructed landscapes engage with the real-world quest to understand her place in the world. As a result, there is always a way for us to enter her paintings, to contemplate the beautiful view, consider the birds hovering at our shoulder, or even put on the worn cowboy boots seen in Cowboy Dreams II.

Masterfully handling their respective media along with the extraordinary light and spectrum of colors unique to the Sonoran Desert, Lesch, Taber and Marcus-Orlen weave a tapestry of glorious images in a truly breathtaking show, not to be missed.


Lynn Taber
Lynn Taber was raised in Bakersfield, California. She earned both a B.A. in Art Education and an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is considered one of the foremost pastel artists working in the western United States.

Taber is the recipient of several awards including the Western States Arts Federation Regional Fellowship in Painting, and selection for several juried exhibitions such as the Tucson Biennial, the Phoenix Biennial, the Arizona Biennial, and the Santa Fe Festival of the Arts Four State Survey. 

Taber’s pastels have been exhibited throughout the Southwest, and in 1993 her work was the subject of a major retrospective at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Her work has been reviewed in a number of art publications including Southwest Art, American Art Review, Artspace, and Art and Auction. In 1986, the Tucson Museum of Art published a catalogue of her work, Lynn Taber-Borcherdt.

Lynn Taber’s pastels are included in several private, corporate, and public collections such as the Tucson Museum of Art, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Phoenix Museum of Art, the University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Tampa Museum of Art, and the Smith College Museum of Art.

Lynn Taber has lived in Tucson since 1970.


William Lesch
William Lesch was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and grew up in the Midwest. His childhood summers were spent on Lake Wawasee in Northern Indiana and it was at Wawasee that he began forming an intimacy with the natural world.  He discovered photography and met his future wife, his two life-long loves, in the same year at the age of 22.  He took photography as an elective course while in a pre-med program. Lesch had found his calling, he dropped out of pre-med and switched to art school the following semester.

Lesch earned a BFA in photography from the University of in 1976.  He was the first Staff Photographer at the Center for Creative Photography from 1976-78.  It was at this time that he began work on many of his signature series: his first time exposures of clouds, his early color work in the desert, and the beginning of his time-lapse light painting series. 

Lesch had his first one-person show at the small front gallery in the newly opened Center for Creative Photography in 1976, and since that time, Lesch has shown his work world-wide in over 100 group and one-person shows.  He has work in prestigious private, corporate, and museum collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Snell and Wilmer Collection.  He has received numerous grants and awards and had a book of his photographs published in Japan in the 90’s.

William Lesch still resides in Tucson, Arizona.  He lives and works in an adobe house and darkroom that he built himself, by hand, making the adobes in his backyard.  Lesch has always felt that life and art are about weaving together complex threads, be those threads colors, light and time, or experiences and skills.
He taught himself to kayak so he could get to some of the remote places where he needed to work, and in 2008 he kayaked the entire 240 miles of the Grand Canyon, and also began work on his current series of Grand Canyon photographs.  His youngest son got his pilot’s license in 2001, and the following week Lesch went up in a small plane with him and began work on his series of aerial photographs of the Arizona landscape.

William is a meticulous craftsman and has always made his own prints, from his years of film and silver prints to the digital darkroom.  Photography is the language William Lesch speaks, it is his way of interacting with the world.  He finds this world a miraculous place and photography a means to explore it.


Gail Marcus-Orlen
Formerly a New York City native, Gail Marcus-Orlen moved to Tucson in the late 1960s, and is best known for the magical worlds she invents in her paintings in which still-life and landscape merge, enlarging our sense of what is beautiful and possible in the world. A disciplined artist who paints every day, in her new work she addresses the Southwest in her own inimitable style.

Gail Marcus-Orlen has exhibited extensively and her work is included in numerous private and public collections including the City of Telluride, Colorado, El Paso Art Museum, Hilton Hotels, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson International Airport, and the Nagai Shigyo Corporation, Tokyo, Japan.