Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Ten Years" Exhibit Wrapup

I took down my retrospective exhibit "Ten Years" today from the UNCA Highsmith Gallery.  Taking a show down is quicker and easier than hanging one.  Two weeks ago, it took me about 6 hours to get everything placed, hung, lighted, and labelled, and today it took about 3 hours to get everything down, packed, and loaded into the trailer.  Still, it's hard manual labor and I'm stiff and sore.  Good thing that I'll be planted on the couch watching the Daytona 500 tomorrow.

We had a closing reception for this exhibit last night.  Between the location, time, and other activities, there wasn't a big turnout, but we had a number of people there and all had a good time.

The university staff had a new way for visitors to leave their comments.  They could write them on a small piece of paper (like a large Post-It note) and stick it on the wall by the door.  Here's what some of the visitors said:

I laughed out loud at "Pleasantville", which I imagined with the subtitle: "A Vision for America, brought to you by the NRA".  Spot on!

Rarely does an exhibit capture the complexities of war without being trite.  This one does.  Accurate, bright, and moving.

These paintings are very honest in their message; their impact was nevertheless very powerful.  Thank you.

I loved the emotions captured in the eyes of the people ... Since his pieces revolve around the people, this is a crucial thing to be able to deliver and I believe it was done well!

"You Don't Understand" filled my heart and soul with sorrow - familiar sorrow.  Is that the tragedy of the human condition?

I've always believed realistic art to be more powerful than abstract.  This exhibit proves it.  Brilliant!  Beautiful & inspiring.  Tragic & thought provoking.  Thank you!

Yeah!  Vet to Vet - you said it!

Thanks for keeping your eyes on military families.

"Lament" brought tears to my eyes.

Reality captured.  Very moving, Skip.

I think it is Buydouffl.  (Note: this came from a 5-year-old pre-schooler who was spelling "beautiful" phonetically).

I share these, not to build myself up, but to say that one of the reasons I paint is to say things that are important and can't be said any other way.  I want to connect with people.  Selling artworks is nice when it happens, but that is not why I do what I do.  And from these and other comments, both written and verbal, I know that these works have connected.  I'm a happy man.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Graffitti in the River Arts District

Yesterday, I went to meet a friend and fellow artist, Jeremy Russell, in his studio in a part of Asheville's River Arts District that I'd never been to.  It's in a rough-looking industrial section, away from the trendy and chic areas, and you pretty much have to know it's there.  I found some amazing graffitti covering the walls of the old industrial buildings.  This is really good work, beautifully done.  These buildings are most definitely not abandoned, either - they're home to artists, the Terpsicorps dance group, and some other small businesses.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Two Photographers

Two photographers have caught my eye.  They are both women, and the work they do could not be more different.  But both of them make stunning images.

A friend of mine let me know about Elizabeth D. Herman.  Elizabeth makes very powerful images of people.  Some series are portraits, some are life in the streets, some are a mixture.  She captures the soul of her subjects in a way that very, very few photographers can.  Elizabeth isn't concerned about making her subject look good, but rather, she brings out something much deeper than just a surface appearance.  

Photograph copyright Elizabeth D. Herman

I find that I respond to these images because she's doing with photography what I try to do with my drawings and paintings.  Her series "A Woman's War" focused on the impact of war on women who have fought in various ways around the world.  This is a similar theme to my "Meditation on War" series and my Iraq and Afghanistan works.  So, to me, it's wonderful to find somebody else who's concerned with the same ideas, but pursuing them in their own way. 

I've swapped a few emails with this young lady and she's doing some great things.  She won a Fulbright Fellowship to work in Bangladesh. This year, she won the Tim Hetherington Award for photojournalism (this is a Very Big Deal in the photojournalism world).  She recently returned from Bosnia, a place where I worked as part of the peacekeeping forces in 1996.  And she's only been out of college for not even three years.  So this is somebody who's going places.  Go look at her website.

The other photographer is Christy Lee Rogers.  Her work is very different: it's sensual.  It's more about color and the shapes of figures, almost as if the painter Rubens was an abstract expressionist photographer.  The figures are anonymous, bathed in light against deep black, swathed in saturated blues and reds and whites, and floating weightlessly in watery space.  Paintings and photographs that are about beauty, color, shape, and light usually bore me to tears.  These fascinate me.  Go look and see for yourself.

Photograph copyright Christy Lee Rogers

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Art Exhibit at UNC Asheville

I have an exhibit of my artworks up at UNC Asheville.  "Ten Years" is a retrospective of works done in the decade since I graduated from there in 2003.  I have several paintings from the "Meditation on War" series, a couple from my political satire series, drawings and paintings from Iraq, a few of the "Faces of Afghanistan" drawings, and a couple of "model in the studio" paintings.

These walls have (left to right) Pleasantville, Portraits from Iraq, a group of drawings from Iraq and Afghanistan, and Red Dress, one of the "model in the studio" paintings.

Here's a better view of the drawings.

The other main wall has a number of paintings from the "Meditation on War" series, including Grand Re-Opening, Lament, You Don't Understand, Warrior, and Welcome to Sarajevo.  On the far wall is A Pachydermian Portrait of King George II, Pope Karl, and Lord Cheney.

The show is in the Highsmith Student Center gallery.  It'll be up for two weeks, until Feb 23rd.  There will be a closing reception on Friday evening, Feb 22nd, from 6-8 pm.  If you're in the Asheville area, it would be great to see you there.