James Cook exposes himself to diverse environments that inform his aesthetic views. Inspired by nature and the world around him, his canvases are powerful evocations of nature’s majesty. Cook’s work has been described as monumental, but the essence of his paintings (whether it is a cityscape or landscape) is contained in the singular brush stroke, line, and mark he orchestrates. Each stroke, each line, each mark is a distinctive note contributing to a chorus that echoes and resounds in a grand symphony. The viewer may be inspired by the grandeur of colorful and untamed worlds created by Cook, but it is the radiance of the painted surface that invites one to plunge into the depths. There is a lush quality to the surface of the canvas that is visceral, and even as you are engaged in the ripples of still pools, the patterns of fall foliage, or the complex patterns of a city skyline, it is the thick impastos and scraped textures that engage the senses in the expressive temperament of the medium. It is obvious that James Cook is in love with paint. To experience his paintings is to comprehend the spirit of color, depth and movement. His love of beauty finds its way onto the canvas as he strives to create visual excitement. Cook compares himself to abstract expressionists in the way that he works, noting that there is a great deal of invention in the paint itself.
Connie Gibbons, Director Mulvane Art Museum
“This group of work stems from the memory or a feeling that something gives me rather than its detailed portrait. A glance from the corner of your eye repeated over time, a gesture, a personality, a relationship can often reveal a truer likeness than a photograph. You have to be paying close attention, sifting out nonessential details in order to arrive somewhere both simple and true. I’m finding the more ordinary something seems, often that is when it can also become most interesting to me. I tend to enjoy humor in art. It welcomes a viewer in to take a closer look without being off-putting. The playful aspect of these sculptures seems native to me and are the type of work I most enjoy making and looking at. It also allows me access to play around with the formal aspects of sculpture without making purely formal work. For instance, I love Richard Tuttle’s work, but I can’t make his kind of work. Figuration, at least at this stage, is important to me although it’s often arrived at through abstract means.”
The Dance Card
An urbanite in his youth, Komarin absorbed the visual cacophony of sidewalks, brick, sandstone, gravel and the myriad qualities of rough surfaces that were alternately hard, hot, hazardous or cold to the touch–but nothing like grass. Kids by nature are closer to the ground than adults and hence, become more concretely attached to and identified with constructed surfaces. So it was with Komarin.
Roads and the way that newly painted lines meet old and faded lines, attracted his attention. The juxtaposition of new and old asphalt patched here and there, left indelible impressions. The painted and repainted surfaces of cabanas and wooden walkways that he experienced at summer retreats at mountain hotels and beachfront clubs along the Atlantic Ocean, influenced his preferences and provided emotion-laden memories.
The early Italian painters such as Giotto and Cimabue made quite an impression on his young mind. The curvy and elemental drawing of Japanese and Chinese painting figured into the mix. Last but not least, the drawings and paintings of young children and the outsider art of Bill Traylor, were tucked into his creative mind.
Focusing on painting as a space of exploration, Raphaëlle Goethals has used wax and resin as her signature medium for more than fifteen years. Probing the physicality of the materials, Goethals works in a process of layering, pouring, scraping off, scratching into the surface, effacing, leaving traces of earlier information, all of this eliciting from the viewer a continuous shifting in the perception of forms, a build up and overlap of successive stages which demands that his or hers attention continually adjusts. The physical history of the piece, however, is buried underneath the smooth surface, its presence felt rather than seen.
Goethals is preoccupied with space, depth, and the fundamentality of light. Testifying to her continuing interest in the evolution and history of painting and in the point at which language originates, these vast surfaces refer to a Jungian space, a semiotic world, an uncoded, unarticulated space of interpretation.
Alyssa Monks is blurring the line between abstraction and realism by layering different spaces and moments in her paintings. She has flipped background and foreground using semi-transparent filters of glass, vinyl, steam, and water over shallow spaces in her 10-year long water series. Today, she is imposing a transparent landscape of infinite space over evocative subjects.
The tension in her paintings is sustained by the composition and also by the surface quality itself. Each brushstroke is thickly applied oil paint, like a fossil recording every gesture and decision, expressing the energetic and empathic experience of the handmade object. “I strive to create a moment in a painting where the viewer can see or feel themselves, identify with the subject, even be the subject, connect with it as though it is about them, personally.”
Gwynn Murrill's internationally recognized sculptures in primal forms, are reminiscent of ancient sculptures, but made from bronze, wood, or aluminum. Her creatures prowl stealthily or gaze back at us with haunting expressions. Some animals are serene and wise, others are slick and sensual, and some burst with energy. Her majestic deer will be featured along with a number of her elegant raptors and other creatures.
Born in Venezuela but raised between Cumana, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and San Francisco, Daniel Diaz-Tai has always defined himself as a Latino-Asian male.
Daniel Diaz-Tai presents us with a series of Abstract Paintings layered with stories, emotion and texture. In these paintings, you can feel competing emotions stemming from the artist’s international journeys. His subconscious compositions embrace the ups and downs of life. They encourage us to note the temporal nature of life. If you think about it, nothing is reality as each moment is fleeting. Each line completes and complements the intensity of the other to unfold bold emotions and tell layered stories using asemic language.
"It occurs to me daily that I am most likely one of the least qualified people to address pressing social issues. I have never been in the military. I have never run for office. I do not have the hot heart of a dedicated protester. Global conflicts, Immigrant travel bans, environmental destruction, racial tensions, womens rights, gender politics, and the construction of beautiful border walls are not most reliably addressed by a person like me. I don’t know much about scaling these walls at all. But with any art that I create, I try to face the canvas intellectually and passionately, with reason, with a sense of humor, with humility, with kindness and generosity towards others, and with a sense that peace and beauty are more powerful tools and exhibit more rational force than bombs, anger, frustration and violence.
As an artist, I search for insight and for wisdom. I do want to be bold. I do want to have impact "- David deVillier (excerpt from Of Many Minds Statement)
For the past few years, my sculptures have been repeatedly glazed, stained, and fired to give the surfaces the look of disintegrating paint over weathered wood. This softening and reduction of form so that its essential nature is revealed is a metaphor I use for a life being lived, an exploration of the process of growing up and growing older. I love the combination of innocence, trust and openness, combined with the knowingness and authenticity of an older age and am inspired by American folk art, “Santos” figures from South and Central America, and utilize molds of 19th and early 20th dolls to achieve a timeless image.
Much of my work pays homage to our coexistence with the natural world. Those of us who are encased in cities sometimes have a longing to experience this connection more closely. We also mourn the loss and threatened existence of many species.
Birds, dogs, cats and other creatures have magic to them, that as children perhaps we see more clearly and do not question. Linda Ganstrom, Professor of Art observes of my work “The subject conveys a sweet sentimentality twisted into melancholy that touches my emotional core and helps me remember the complexity of childhood and life”.
Betsy Eby, Michael Gregory, Morris Graves, Kenna Moser, Kathy Moss, Carolyn Olbum, Christopher Reilly, Rene Rickabaugh, Jack Spencer, and Allison Stewart
“Eloquent Flower ” is a celebration of Spring by our contemporary artists. An extrinsic dialog emerges between each artist and their personal depiction of flowers. These artists present us with unique perspectives of the traditional symbol of spring and countless other concepts, like beauty, sensuality, and vitality. Each of these artists evokes responses and emotions through their work. Christopher Reilly’s spiritual and organic encaustic paintings play off the ethereal reality of Jack Spencer's photographs. The subtlety and intimacy of Kenna Moser's beeswax, vintage envelope, and collage pieces counter the vibrant colors of Michael Gregory's tulips. Carolyn Olbum begins the artistic process of transformation by translating the collected materials into new organic forms, layering the natural and artificial in cast bronze. The ebb and flow of Allison Stewart's loose flowers and Betsy Eby’s encaustics balance Rene Rickabaugh's precisely detailed epoxy, resin, and mixed media flowers. All of these paintings dance together in celebration of spring.
Marcia Myers utilized the formal elements of artistic expression—color, light, texture, shape, and space, to capture the essence of an experience. Her paintings are relics of a creative process where the act of creating supersedes the product of creation. The subject has been reduced to color. The viewer is propelled into a realm where past and present commingle. As a conveyer of truth, her paintings explore the realm beyond the recognizable subject, a place devoid of word and imagery, where all is distilled to its very essence. The result is pure indulgence in the sensory aspects of color, texture and space. Her paintings tantalize, inviting the viewer into ineffable dialogue with color. It is purely through the power of color that an emotion is triggered and the viewer is transported through space and time to arrive at a present interpretation of the past.
Myers who passed away in 2008, is included in many prestigious private and public collections throughout the world.
This exhibition features the last frescos from Myers’ personal collection, including historical works on paper and the body of work that she was creating at the time of her death.
Michael Gregory • Sheila Gardner • Laura McPhee • George Harkins
Michael Gregory’s work is immediately recognizable with its American icons of barns, homesteads, and imagined fields. Gregory says of his work: “I think the concept of the icon is important. I’m using it in the traditional sense of a picture as a vehicle for transcendence, something to meditate upon. I’m not telling a story, rather suggesting a point of departure for a topic for conversation." For Sheila Gardner the moods of nature seem infinite; the season, the hour, the wind, the sun or lack of it, even pollution, are some of the factors that make for constant change. That constant change fascinates her. Laura McPhee has been photographing Idaho and the greater Western States for decades. McPhee displays her color images shot with a large format Deardorff box camera in galleries and museums across America. George Harkins is known for his rich watercolors which examine nature and its patterns as if through a close-up lens. His work is somewhat abstracted but still imbued with the beauty of seasons and relationships of life and water.
Artists included in this exhibition are Victoria Adams, James Cook, Morris Graves, Michael Gregory, Valerie Hammond, Hung Liu, Lynda Lowe, Robert McCauley, Laura McPhee, Alyssa Monks, Gwynn Murrill, Ed Musante, Carolyn Olbum, Jane Rosen, Brad Rude, Anne Siems, Theodore Waddell and David Wharton
Gail Severn Galley's group exhibition will explore our open air environment through the eyes of our represented artists. The show will feature many different disciplines including - painting, sculpture and photography.
I am inspired by the nuances of texture and light found in nature and in urban environments. All the media I work with come from nature: ground marble, wax, and crystals from the sap of fir trees. The natural ingredients are more appealing to me than synthetics – I love that they come from the earth. I love the luminous quality of encaustic paintings. Some have an obfuscation to them, like that experienced when enveloped by the mystique of fog.
Following the ritual of adding and subtracting what may be twenty or thirty layers of color and material, and when I have captured and expressed the essence of that which has inspired me, my paintings arrive at the eventual visual and tactile end of their journey as I arrive at the end of my personal path to convey the evocative quality of water in all its myriad iterations.
In Universal Solvent, I have sought to capture the translucence of watercolor and the fluidity of tides, currents and ripples. I have also been influenced by water in its frozen forms of ice and snow and by the glaciers I have climbed with my husband. Water figures prominently in the memories and imaginations of all cultures, and my paintings invite the viewers to bring their own narratives.
"In this series, 'Metamorphose', it is the combination of fallen tree limbs; their simplicity and elegance that have inspired me. Empty birds’ nests arranged in crevices and niches of the barren trees suggest an element of mystery and history, of life in nature.
For me, through the alchemy of bronze casting, each composition tells a story."
The act of absorbing her environment is crucial to Carolyn Olbum's process — her family and her surroundings are her inspiration. During walks she gathers dried vines, branches, seedpods, and other objects of nature that may then hang in her studio for months, lived with and studied, before the act of translation begins. She combines various materials and textures in her search for expressive forms, lines, and evocative moments, and the original material is transformed, losing its identity as a "stick" or a "vine," becoming instead an original composition, an iconic, enduring work of art.
Elisabeth Roark, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Art
My goal is to make beauty. The impetus to make paintings is motivated in part by my desire to the express the inexpressible: the inescapable dualities of existence.
I use botanicals as archetypes in my work. I was aware of the suggestiveness of, and psychological meaning attached to some flowers. They are ambiguous, mysterious, a way to get to the paint. and in large scale represent heads, beats, landscape. I use these objects as subject matter, in silhouette. I also refer to my imagery as ‘girlie’ as the motifs and even mere suggestions of flowers and hearts are usually associated with being female, and feminine. My work addresses issues of power, solipsism, hierarchies by presenting imaginary orders, arrangements that would not occur in the natural world; I am working in response to and partly inspired by both external and internal chaos. I have turned them- flowers, seed pods, skeletons of pine cones, thistles into icons. The motifs are beards; their arrangement a poetic depiction of the internal self.
The work has evolved over the last twenty years into a personal iconography, a world of glistening, minimalist surfaces, with floating objects employed as signs. The paintings play with bridging the two worlds of the conceptual and the representative, delicate, minimal amounts of paint oozing and floating on the muscular chalk and oil surface while the subject matter exists in deep space. I am making a beautiful image and simultaneously commenting on the nature of paint and the act of making. This is, in part, the text and the subtext of my work.
Influenced by work as a surface designer I have come to see repetition as a type of abstract structure; one which infers less linear narrative even as a narrative is added by the inferred denial of it. I imply pattern as a way of giving meaning- suggesting a rhythm, and then breaking that rhythm. I am interested in the edge, dark on light, and its stark effect of push and pull, the situation of figure on ground. Color is subtle, implicitly referential. The paintings are formal in orientation. I think of my work as situational haiku: a rare, tightly held moment. Ultimately the works must succeed formally, hold the surface, have a discreet narrative, and be beautiful.
Julie Speidel • Gary Komarin • Lynda Lowe • Linda Christensen
Rana Rochat • Jenny Honnert Abell
Julie Speidel’s colorful stainless steel sculptures encompass an array of cultural influences, including forms from the stone age into twentieth-century modernism. Gary Komarin, a master of Post-Painterly Abstraction, has been at the forefront of contemporary art with a bold and colorful style recognized by art collectors worldwide, and museum curators alike. Lynda Lowe paints poetic worlds with a power and a delicacy the blend imagination and intellect. Images rendered in exquisite detail are combined with scientific diagrams, poetry fragments, and gestural marks resting on a lush and densely layered ground. As a child, Linda Christensen was always in tune with the subtle shifts in mood of those around her. This sensitive observation of friends and strangers has continued to inspire her work as an artist. Christensen catches people who are in a “private place” and are turned within. Rana Rochat's works are pictorial metaphors of a fragile balance using marks, forms, colors, as well as the luminosity and visual depth afforded by the encaustic medium. In her recent paintings there is an organic and almost landscape like feeling about them.
Jenny Honnert Abell’s artwork is filled with fantasy and imagination. Loving nature, Abell’s imagery of birds on old book covers resembles the illustrations seen in early childhood fairytale books.
After completing an MFA at Indiana University, Lynda Lowe began a fifteen-year teaching career at Wheaton College and Northern Illinois University. She left her academic position and began painting full-time, then soon after moved to Washington State. The surrounding environment and travel abroad profoundly impact her work. Additionally, Lowe’s interest in the relationships between art and science, perception and consciousness is evident in her imagery that layers text and poetry fragments, scientific observations and mathematical formula, alongside highly rendered recognizable objects.
Lynda Lowe’s artwork has been widely exhibited nationally in galleries and museums. She’s the recipient of numerous grants including two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships. She has had over forty solo exhibitions and is included in many corporate and public collections.
Throughout the exhibition, as in much of Lowe's work, examining approaches to human perception and themes of paradoxical union - darkness and light, stillness and movement, gesture and geometry, the concrete and the ephemeral – continue to be investigated. She finds herself often playing on the edge of the frontier, examining what is knowable and familiar, and speculating about the infinite and enigmatic.
While Robert McCauley’s paintings, drawings, installations and mixed media works are rooted in the tradition of 19th century American Romanticism, his narratives are contemporary, timely and relevant. Through the metaphorical juxtaposition of found objects, inscribed texts on frames and ambiguous titles, McCauley addresses a wide variety of contemporary themes and issues, including cultures in collision, environmental ethics, humankind’s impact on nature and the appropriation of nature in art.
McCauley’s paintings are sometimes ambiguous, but not so much that no meaning comes across. Returning to his childhood haunts each summer has shown the artist how much things keep changing. “The salmon streams I fished in are silted up and have no more salmon,” he says. “The Native Americans used to set a trap of chicken wire a half mile out to sea, and I would watch the salmon in the trap in awe. That’s gone. Even the huge fishing resorts are gone because the fish are gone. Clear-cutting is still common. A small greenbelt of ten feet on either side of the roads makes you think you’re looking at forest, but beyond that it’s just devastation.”
The annual Preview exhibition features artists who will have solo exhibitions in the upcoming year.
Theodore Waddell’s children’s books make wonderful gifts for your children, or grandchildren, or friend’s children. We are all dog lovers in this community and Theodore’s Bernese Mountain dogs reminding us all what the Holidays are really about. This book is also for the golf enthusiast that will recognize a lot of classic golf terminology and jokes but portrayed by painter and humorist Theodore Waddell and his famous dogs.
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