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The Sources: Paintings and Drawings by Steve Lotz
March 12 - June 5, 2016
In a career that now spans 57 years, Steve Lotz has created a distinctive visual vocabulary of symbolic and archetypal forms drawn from the "Sources" that inspire his work. These sources are very personal and, through his philosophical outlook, are also linked to universal themes. The large-scale drawings, paintings and collages presented in this exhibition reflect his engagement with these themes and are expressions of his spiritual connections to the world, to nature and to the cosmos. (right: Steve Lotz, Source #3, 2015, Acrylic, wax pencil and India ink on canvas, 68 x 93 1/2 inches. Collection of the artist. © Steve Lotz .Image courtesy of the artist)
Lotz began his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, were he received a BFA, before attending graduate school at the University of Florida. After receiving his MFA, Lotz came to Central Florida in 1968 to create the Art Department at the University of Central Florida (UCF), serving as chairman of the department for its first 10 years. He stayed at UCF until he retired as a professor emeritus in 2003. During this period, he established a successful career as an internationally recognized artist with numerous exhibitions in the United States and Europe. His best known work in Central Florida is perhaps his monumental triptych, Florida Dream. Installed in the main terminal of the Orlando International Airport, it has greeted millions of visitors to Orlando since 1980.
In the 1970s, Lotz produced a striking group of drawings on black paper that depict ethereal worlds in which elemental forms and sometimes human figures appear engaged in procreative events. In some drawings, the figures move to embrace while writhing animated forms, some of which allude to sexual organs, swirl around them. The strong vertical compositions of several works reference the lingam, an ancient Hindu phallic symbol that represents the god Shiva and his male creative power. Materializing out of darkness, these figures and the sinuous forms around them, move together in a pulsing visual rhythm that suggests primordial energies at work.
The symbolic content and visionary construct of the drawings continued to shape Lotz's work in the years that followed, even as his primary medium shifted to painting. Universal procreative forces are also central themes seen in his recent paintings included in this exhibition. These themes are expressed through images that are more serene and meditative than his earlier drawings. Elaborate leaf structures, swollen fruits, scattered seeds, flowers and birds, as symbolic elements, dominate these images, appearing to remain still or float in soft atmospheric fields. The visual rhythms in these works are created by botanical tendrils that twist and curl through space, evoking a quiet but active generative force. (left: Steve Lotz, Source #4, Acrylic and wax pencil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. Collection of the artist. © Steve Lotz .Image courtesy of the artist)
In his recent paintings, Lotz introduces vistas comprised of cloud-filled skies and wide, dark seas. Their atmospheres are soft and misty; their light is cool and defused. The foreground contains elements silhouetted in shadow against the sky, with occasional bright highlights causing a leaf, ribbon, flower or bird to glow with ethereal light. These are dream-like visions of transcendent metaphysical realms, related to, but apart from common earthbound reality.
Lotz does not follow a religious practice, he does believe in a spiritual force within us that connects us to all things in the universe. He developed this belief based on his life-long appreciation of Eastern philosophy, the writings of Carl Jung and others, and his own profound personal experiences. Lotz has chosen to access and explore this spiritual state is through art.
The Sources: Paintings and Drawings by Steve Lotz is organized by the Orlando Museum of Art and presented in conjunction with the community-wide celebration, Art Legends of Orange County. This collaboration runs throughout the 2015-2016 arts season and includes more than 15 exhibitions and events. Art Legends of Orange County celebrates 20 distinguished artists and patrons who helped build Orange County's vibrant cultural landscape. The full exhibition schedule and link to the virtual exhibition are available at www.ArtLegendsOC.org.
Resource Library editor's note
Steve Lotz is featured in Art Legends exhibitions at the City of Orlando Terrace Gallery (October 15, 2015 through January 8, 2016), the Orange County Regional History Center (March 5 through May 29, 2016), the Orlando Museum of Art (March 12 through June 5, 2016), and the UCF Art Gallery (September 5, 2016 through October 13, 2016).
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