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An Inquisitive Eye: The Art of Kevin Kutz and Michael M. Strueber: Seasonal Silhouettes

 

The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona is highlighting the work of two distinguished local artists for its first exhibition of 2004. An Inquisitive Eye: The Art of Kevin Kutz and Michael M. Strueber: Seasonal Silhouettes opened at the Museum on January 30 and will remain on view through April 11, 2004.

The Kutz exhibition features 10 works, largely consisting of oil paintings, and includes two new pieces. Strueber, a resident of Hollidaysburg, produced 13 new watercolors for the exhibition.

An Inquisitive Eye gives an intimate look at the painted biographies of Bedford artist, Kevin Kutz. The artist devotes his work to recording on canvas a historic legacy of this region. His focus is on capturing the region's landscape in its present beauty, before it gives way forever to the bustling economic and social trends forging a new identity in the land. His primary media are oils and watercolors, and the Neo-Impressionistic style in which he paints emphasizes his use of color and texture. Kutz, who studied under American Impressionist painter Robert Brackman, adopted the pleine air school of painting, in the tradition of Alfred Sisley and other Impressionists. Working largely on location, as opposed to a studio space, Kutz is able to inject fresh insights into the subjects of his canvases. (right: painting by Kevin Kutz , (American, b. 1955), Country Lane, watercolor, from the exhibition An Inquisitive Eye: The Art of Kevin Kutz and Michael M. Strueber: Seasonal Silhouettes)

"Overall, Kutz's art is never one of idealization, or one in which the highest aim is to be picturesque," said SAMA Fine Arts Curator Dr. Graziella Marchicelli. "Rather, he seeks a truth deep within his subject matter that enlivens his paintings. More than anything else, he is a painter of people, their habitats, and the things they leave behind. He does not editorialize or stray into nostalgia, but attempts honestly and effectively to record the American experience."

Kutz was born in Pittsburgh in 1955, and began painting at age 8. He studied at the Kiski School in Saltsburg and Carnegie Mellon University, and held a residency at the Vermont Studio Colony. He is a multi-award winning artist, including taking First Place in 2001 at Laurel Arts' Juried Competition and Best of Show at the 2001 Bedford County Arts Festival. His work has been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, and his paintings are included in several private and public collections, including the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

Seasonal Silhouettes highlights the botanical still lifes of Hollidaysburg artist, Michael M. Strueber. Primarily a self-taught painter, Strueber believes the act of painting nature is a spiritual search, one in which the artist "finds his God." He regards this approach to watercolor painting as being spiritually similar to the Japanese brush painting tradition of sumi-e. Sumi-e is the attempt to capture the "life spirit" of a subject.

"When painting nature, whether it be landscapes, still lifes or botanical scenes, for Strueber the process of painting watercolors means searching for spirituality," said Marchicelli. "Nature also provides him with an infinite artistic stimulation and inner peace. In creating a picture, Strueber tries to grasp the spirit of his subject. In turn, his landscapes and still lifes have become a celebration of life." (right: painting by Michael M. Strueber (American), Vases II, watercolor, from the exhibition An Inquisitive Eye: The Art of Kevin Kutz and Michael M. Strueber: Seasonal Silhouettes)

Strueber has established a distinguished career as both an artist and an arts administrator. Strueber is Director Emeritus of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art and the former chairman of the Fine Arts Department of Saint Francis University. He has served as an institutional accreditation reviewer for the American Association of Museums, a site reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts, a grant reviewer for the Institute of Museum Services, a member of the visual arts panel of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and chairman of the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance. He is currently the co-owner and director of the Allegheny Art Gallery of Hollidaysburg, the exclusive representative of his work. As an artist, he has had solo exhibitions at the University of Iowa, The Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Saint Francis University, St. Vincent College and the Hiram Halle Memorial Library. His work is featured in more than 250 private and institutional collections.

The Museum will hold a reception for the exhibition from 5 to 7 p.m. on February 27.

The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona is located in the Brett Building at 1210 Eleventh Avenue.

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