Art of Uncertainty

By ericg January 1, 2011

When painter Vick Vercauteren made the move from the San Francisco Bay area to Florida seven years ago, it provoked a change both in her work and her lifestyle.

First, the lifestyle: She bought a house in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts. “I could never afford to do that in California,” she says. Pride of home ownership aside, though, her new place was small, just 700 square feet. So the scale of her images quickly changed from the sometimes six-feet-wide canvases of California to smaller ones here. She began to try out new media, too.

“I had used oil paint for over 20 years,” says Vercauteren (her last name comes from her Belgian ancestors). “But with the climate in Florida and a house without air conditioning, that’s no longer feasible for many months of the year. So I’m investigating acrylics and mixed media. I tend to work multiple canvases at once, often in a series.”

The themes of the work have changed with her move to Florida, too, but she hasn’t adopted the sunshine-inflected palette you might expect. “Living in Florida, seeing hurricane patterns on TV, one becomes aware of how transient the idea of having a roof over your head really can be,” Vercauteren explains. “The language of the weather fascinates me, too; my all-time favorite is the ‘Cone of Uncertainty’ to describe the possible path of a hurricane. Don’t we all live in a cone of uncertainty? Everything is always in a state of flux.”

In addition to images of churning, black-on-black storm clouds and dramatic horizontal lightning, you’ll also see dwellings being dragged out to sea or otherwise imperiled. But as a primarily abstract painter, Vercauteren says, “I know that viewers of my work bring to it the sum of their own experiences. What resonates with a viewer may not be the same thing that resonates with me, and that’s OK.”

Vercauteren has received grants from the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and Change, Inc. (funded by the Robert Rauschenberg estate). Her work has shown in numerous galleries around the country; she’s represented here by the new Kathleen Bernhardt Gallery in the Rosemary District and is part of a group show currently on view at St. Petersburg’s Donna Gordon Gallery through March 3. For more information about her work, call (941) 744-0162 or go to

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