Sounds into Landscapes

Sister Bay artists Dave Tilton and Paula Oeler at Edgewood Orchard Galleries in Fish Creek.

The collaborative works of Sister Bay artists Dave Tilton and Paula Oeler, a wife and husband team, will be exhibited June 13 through July 1 at Edgewood Orchard Galleries in Fish Creek.

Two of the artists’ collaborative works, “Red Bud,” and “Dedicated Followers of Fashion,” were also selected for the Eighth Annual North of the 45th Juried Exhibition, at the De Vos Art Museum, in Marquette, Michigan.

Tilton and Oeler’s partnership spans more than 20 years, and they have been married for 17. Both have backgrounds in cartography, and though they moved from digital design to fine art, landscape continues to be the focus of both their independent work and collaborative efforts.

The painterly quality of the works, produced by layering and manipulating effects in Photoshop, create depth and texture in each piece. Tilton and Oeler use standard tools for digital photography, including digital photographs and Photoshop, in innovative ways.

Through their work, Tilton and Oeler hope to demonstrate that “you can do something different and unimagined, using a set of tools made for a different purpose.”

To achieve dimension on a flat surface, they use a set of techniques, modeled after those used in the synthesis of sound. Sound waves can create a digital and visual environment, and can be expressed in ones and zeros through which a form is created.

Tilton + Oeler collaborative works at Edgewood Orchard Galleries.

Ambient music inspires Dave and it is not difficult to understand how its vacillating sounds are translated into his abstract landscapes. To help him visualize sonic textures, Dave creates his own music in GarageBand, which he listens to while he works.

Oeler and Tilton translate the mood of ambient music into color. The reverberation of sound becomes the way that light lingers on a landscape. Through their art, Tilton and Oeler seek a greater understanding of resonance and reverb, and for the viewer, listening to the music that inspires them brings a new understanding to the layered, unfocused, and ghost-like quality of their work.

The space, and the stretching of sound present in the music that inspires Dave are also translated into the larger scale of his work. Oeler’s work provides a counterpart to Tilton’s, and like the music that inspires her, is much tighter and more concrete. Oeler loves The Kinks.

“I’m a huge fan. I think there’s only one kind of Kinks fan,” she said.

“Dedicated Followers of Fashion,” one of two Tilton + Oeler pieces selected for the De Voss Art Museum, is inspired by The Kinks song of the same name. Central to the piece, and the canvas, is a group of lively trees, conceived by Oeler.

“I’m much more interested in the details of the shoreline, or the structure of the trees,” she said.

The collaborations begin with a shape, and “Dedicated Followers of Fashion” began with the shape of the trees, which was taken when the trees were bare.

“The form of the trees was the impetus, and the texture of the trees was intentionally created,” Oeler said.

The vibrant leaves that clothe the branches (also Oeler’s creation) give the trees a foppish, strutting character.

The Tilton + Oeler printer’s mark designed by Dave Oeler. The mark is the human form, made up of ones and zeroes (the characters of the binary language).

At the bottom of the collaborative prints is a printer’s mark designed by Oeler. The mark is the human form, made up of ones and zeroes (the characters of the binary language) that represents the artists’ goal of creating digital art that provokes human emotion and experience.

Like the binary code that powers their medium, Tilton and Oeler are two different characters whose combinations create meaning and form.

The opening of their exhibition at Edgewood Orchard Galleries, 4140 Peninsula Players Road in Fish Creek, will be held from 4 – 7pm on Saturday, June 13. For more information visit