Maryhill Museum of Art
Interior Pauses: Northwest Contemporary Realism
Maryhill Museum of Art will present a group exhibit, featuring the work often artists based in the Northwest, from March 15 through November 15, 1998. The exhibit consists of contemporary realism paintings and drawings by Katherine Ace, Lynn Apple, Gloria DeArcangelis, Gary Faigin, Sally Haley, Barbara Newton, Rene Rickabaugh, Libby Wadsworth, Melissa Weinman, and Sherrie Wolf.
From left to right: Barbara Newton, Forever Young, 1997, 15 x 17 1/2 inches, colored pencil; Melissa Weinman, Why Die?, 1996, 6 x 5.5 inches, oil on panel; Sherrie Wolf, Vegee's Dream II, 1997, 24 x 36 inches, oil on canvas; Gloria DeArcangelis, Judith, 1996, 84 x 48 inches, oil on panel.
Organized by Maryhill Museum, this exceptional exhibit explores the diverse forms the resurgence of Northwest contemporary Realism is taking. Rejecting historical and formal approaches to presenting an overview of Realism, the exhibit concentrates instead on how artists combine it with imagination to explore issues relevant to themselves and to society as a whole.
From left to right: Evening, Mining Town, 1996, 20 x 68 inches, oil on canvas; Katherine Ace, Bouquet, 1997, 70 x 36 inches, alkyd/oil.
"As realism has become less elitist, artists are turning away from literal representational painting toward art that has engaging content and whose aesthetic is increasingly imaginary," said Josie De Falla, Director. "The techniques these artists use and their eye for the play between light and dark is straight out of the Renaissance, but their work has a contemporary edge that incorporates heightened classical components and psychological nuances with the iconography of the now."
Many Northwest artists feel compelled to include the region's spectacular scenery in their work, while these artists invite the viewer into the glories of interior spaces and the objects and mind-sets found there. Subtle mixtures of the real and imaginary, and the juxtaposing of incongruous objects and settings underscore these influences while the artist's obsession with shape, color, texture and composition suggests the Platonic perfection of objects and settings as they exist only in art and philosophy.
Their use of color to render light often controls and refines content as is revealed in the warm internal illumination, lush richness of detail and jewel-like fantasy of Rene Rickabaugh's (Portland, OR) miniature watercolors and the spiritual / psychological poetry of Katherine Ace's (Portland, OR) large oil paintings. This same use of light is a controlling factor in the tenebroso settings of Gloria DeArcangelis' (Seattle, WA) narrative paintings.
At first glance the use of refected light, diffused light, and direct light in Barbara Newton's (Renton, WA) drawings may seem pragmatic rather than confrontational, but it serves to set up a mind-game between realism and abstraction as well as define shapes. The use of birds-eye perspective in the paintings of Sherrie Wolf (Portland, OR) also results in images that are at once naturalistic and abstract.
Gary Faigin's (Seattle, WA) paintings reflect his interest in symbolism, with familiar images and familiar light bringing the viewer from the known into a world that is mysterious, yet oddly whimsical. Melissa Weinman's paintings have a touch of paradox and passion set in a religious tone.
Also included in the exhibit are current paintings by Lynn Apple, Sally Haley, and Libby Wadsworth. These seven women and three men all use some form of realism as the main technical ingredient in the visualizing of their aspirations and concerns.
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