The landscape holds its stories of mystery and time. Its narratives are not easy to discern, nor are they told in the manner of a straightforward story, with a beginning, middle, and an end. To hear them, you must listen, not just with your ears, but with your spirit, your soul.

“If you place yourself in an unfamiliar landscape, and you’re there for any length of time — several days, even several hours — something’s always going to happen,” says local artist Michael Scott, whose new retrospective monograph Preternatural (Museum of New Mexico Press, 156 pages, $50) places the artist’s enigmatic paintings within the broader American landscape tradition and offers insights into his artistic process. “Things that are supernatural, obviously, is a whole other conversation about life and the landscape. But preternatural is somewhere in between. It is a meaningful event that offers a gift to the participant.”

In advance of America’s Epic Treasures featuring Preternatural by Michael Scott, a major exhibition of the artist’s work, which opens on May 27 at the Cincinnati Museum Center in Ohio, is something closer to home. At 5 p.m. on Friday, March 25, celebrate the launch of Preternatural at Evoke Contemporary (550 S. Guadalupe St., 505-995-9902, evokecontemporary.com), when Scott signs copies of the book and an exhibition of the same name opens in the gallery (through April 23).

The celebration continues Saturday, March 26, with an 11 a.m. book signing, followed at noon by “The Landscape as Narrative, its Meanings and Symbols,” an informal conversation with the artist.

Scott’s landscapes, many of which depict America’s National Parks and obliquely capture aspects of a world of nature threatened by the effects of climate change, are simultaneously realistically rendered and somehow otherworldly. Scott brings a sense of inner magic to the landscape, where every element seems alive. Vividly rendered, they represent real places but take on aspects of imagined landscapes. They recall the landscape traditions of the Hudson School while being evocative of the German romantic landscape tradition.

“Anybody who goes into any type of wooded area, swamp, or bayou, there’s always moments that are extraordinarily perfect,” Scott says. “You are there and you’re very present. You come from it. It’s really a part of you. It reminds you of histories, geologies, and the various people who walked there before you.”

Preternatural contains a forward by the Cincinnati Art Center’s President and CEO Elizabeth Wiecher Pierce and essays from art historian MaLin Wilson-Powell, Senior Curator and Curator of Art at the Gilcrease Museum Laura F. Fry, and Amy Scott, executive vice president of research and interpretation, Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Curator of Visual Arts at the Autry Museum of the American West.

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