|BUILDING FINE ART COLLECTIONS SINCE 1965|
JILL LEAR + KATIE MARATTA
JILL LEAR and KATIE MARATTA will be featured in parallel exhibitions opening in April at Gallery Shoal Creek. Texas has captured the hearts of these two non-native artists whose work generates dialogue about place.
JILL LEAR / Lear's interest in trees has taken her to far parts of the world. Her expressive work is grounded in place as she seeks to discover the role a particular tree has played in its locale, reflected in her newest series, Witness Trees of Texas.
In the spring of 2014, she set out on a 1300-mile road trip to explore twenty historic Texas trees. In her studio, she began to pay homage to each in mixed media paintings on paper. Relying on varied perspectives, she conveys structure and hints at the history of each. Close up views speak to the trees' strength and endurance; as the lens pulls away, the expansive reach of branches is emphasized and accentuated by the movement of color. The project shows a more experimental use of color, with the palette being slightly muted and at the same time highly saturated.
"There is confidence in Lear's marks," notes artist/writer Veronica Ceci, describing them as "deliberate without abandoning spontaneity. Lear has a special gift for using the white of the paper to complement the figure ground relationship and keep the eye engaged. The trees themselves appear to be both everywhere and nowhere in the composition."
Lear says of her process, "I move from the particular place itself—a topographic study involving measurement, proportion, negative space and positive forms—to the general, the idea of territory, light, space and sound. Then, by subtraction, I paint the experience of being there, letting only the major lines and colors of the landscape remain until, like the tree, its significance survives."
KATIE MARATTA / "My typical landscapes are four feet long and one inch high. And if those four foot pieces are short stories, narratives of the Texas landscape that have to be "read" complete with rhythm and balance and suspense, the 2 inch by 3 inch works are haiku. They elevate the mundane, the over-looked. The smaller format allows me to concentrate on the moment. When they succeed, they allow the viewer to see something completely familiar in a brand new way. I refer to them as "sliders" because they are just the right size and they go down easy."
The spring exhibition of Maratta's work features both long, narrative horizon-scapes as well as a collective installation of 50 sliders created to commemorate the gallery's celebration of Five Decades.
MILT KOBAYASHI + GREGG KREUTZ
Gallery Shoal Creek welcomes two New York painters whose work calls to mind traditions in representational art. Milt Kobayashi and Gregg Kreutz first showed together in an exhibition titled New York! New York! in the early 1990s. Twenty years later the Upper West Side (Kobayashi) meets Union Square (Kreutz) at the Flatbed Building, Austin, Texas, for parallel shows which highlight the gallery's FIVE DECADES celebration.
Milt Kobayashi's imagery continues to focuses on the female in her quiet reflective world. In his current work, he models his subjects with vibrant color and broad, loose bravura strokes. All the while, he retains the aesthetics—color harmonies and negative spaces—associated with the masters of the Japanese ukiyo-e prints.
As a young illustrator in New York City, Kobayashi frequented the Metropolitan Museum of Art to study the masters. Even today, as a highly successful painter, he returns to spend time with the artists of the 18th and 19th century who have influenced his own work.
Blending east and west, Kobayashi has developed a unique style where time stands still. Masterfully, he distills the essence of an intimate moment or a late-night mood to the point that the imagery itself engages the audience in an intriguing dialogue. It is with the mere hint of detail that Kobayashi has perfected his fine art of subtlety.
Gregg Kreutz is a New York based painter and playwright who teaches at the Art Students' League and conducts workshops in the US and abroad. A versatile painter, Kreutz moves with ease between studio painting and plein air. In either, light is the element that distinguishes his work. Selections for this show reflect his summer travels to Assisi, Italy.
Nestled on a dramatic hill top overlooking a beautiful valley, surrounded by medieval walls, Assisi is a historic world treasure that provides unlimited opportunities for the plein air painter. The paintings in this show were all done on the spot, and each one attempted to capture the ancient character and dynamic architecture of the city. Light, of course, was a vital component of the process and the light in Assisi—it seemed to me—was especially vibrant.
SARAH AMOS + KAREN KUNC + KOICHI YAMAMOTO
Internationally recognized printmakers—Koichi Yamamoto, Karen Kunc, Sarah Amos—will be featured at Gallery Shoal Creek in conjunction with PrintAustin 2015. Influenced by diverse backgrounds and cultural experiences, the three are among the most accomplished printmakers currently working in the U.S. In unison they represent a highly interconnected international printmaking community.
Previewing the works selected for the upcoming exhibition, master printmaker Veronica Ceci notes that the three printmakers share "an intense attention to patterned surface. Each demonstrates a unique approach to the creation of labyrinthine pieces which beguile with intricately worked stratum."
Sarah Amos' collographs build geometrical structures from the repetition of softer forms which bear the clear mark of the artist's hand. The technique utilizes a matrix fabricated from a variety of collaged materials such as papers and fabrics which can then be printed either in intaglio or relief style. Amos layers several matrices to create images which reference the biological and teeter on the architectural. A background of cool whites delicately smudged with plate tone effect a moderated contrast with the pure white gouache and transparent reds of the buoyant objects drifting throughout her compositions.
Karen Kunc's jewel toned palette diverges from Amos' while sharing a sense of accumulated shape. The artist has many skills within printmaking but calls most often upon woodcut to anchor a piece. Kunc's elaborate carving coalesces into graphic compositions suggestive of something both mythic and epic. One wonders whether we are looking at the world of microscopic animals or entire ecosystems viewed from a remove. An impression of durational chronology suffuses the work alluding to narratives conceived over eons hinted at in freeze frame.
The monotypes of Koichi Yamamoto share Kunc's sense of epic time while his copper engravings hint at relics of lost tribes. Where the two methods meet, in works like Mahoroba, misty intimations of landscape are sundered by crisp intertwined lines in a vertical progression. These images, some animalistic, others childlike, are created by printing a single plate bisymmetrically building a two-eyes-and-a-mouth sequence which implies a face. Yamamoto's technical skill in the centuries old process of engraving is impressive and one is not surprised to learn that the artist spent many years in Poland studying the process.
The tactics of printmaking are as diverse as the artists who execute them. Amos, Kunc and Yamamoto all evidence a lavish finesse within their individual strategies and reflect favorably on the medium as a whole.
PRISCILLA HOBACK + MARIANNE McGRATH
Priscilla Hoback's clay murals were the feature of the first exhibition organized by owner Judith Taylor in 1990. That fall marked the mid-point in the gallery's history and the beginning of Taylor's tenure. Hoback's murals and sculpted fetishes, created from hand dug clay and natural minerals, reference the ancients and are inspired by the cave drawings near Galisteo, NM, and the region's native species.
On the other hand, Marianne McGrath's installation of birdhouses presents a contemporary view in the medium of clay and highlights more recent offerings from the gallery. The white, black, and gray hand- constructed structures, housing twig-like roots, suggest a modern, yet highly organic, aesthetic. The success of McGrath's porcelain and clay installations encouraged the gallery to devote space to site-specific projects.
SHAWN CAMP: Equal and Opposite
Gallery Shoal Creek is pleased to present Equal and Opposite, a solo exhibition of new work by Austin artist Shawn Camp. The exhibition opens on Friday, October 17, with a reception for the artist from 6 to 8 pm. Equal and Opposite will be on view until November at the gallery's eastside location at the Flatbed Building.
In his newest exploration of light and surfaces, Camp continues to think in polarities as he addresses what arts writer Erin Keever calls "the existential back and forth of figuring out our place in the world."
"Equal and Opposite," says Camp, "is a collection of paintings that explore the boundary between the physical and the transcendent. Each is an aesthetic reaction to our tendency to comprehend reality through an elaborate construction of systems and precepts that divide our experience into diametric poles of existence."
The paintings in this show explore dualistic, cyclical relationships through translucent and reflective light and the application of geometry to the physical world. They portray earth and sky as an historical record of marks - our interpretation of which decodes our story. History exists on a grand scale through decisions and chance events that radically affect our place. And it continues in an unbroken line to the most intimate level through fragments of memories that enter our consciousness like a dream and can dissipate just as fast.
Included in the show are back-lit paintings that vacillate between transparency and opacity. In darkness, the physicality of the opaque white paint surrenders to the immateriality of translucent light. The prominent surface is simultaneously a solid wall and an innuendo of expanse.
Other works play on the exaggerated reflectivity of metallic paint and subtle transitions of color. Through the capriciousness of reflected light, heightened extremes of light and dark emerge from changing planes sculpted into the surface, mining veins that run between artifice and honesty.
MARC BURCKHARDT + REBECCA COHEN + SYDNEY YEAGER
Visual conversations, both personal and universal, pose thought provoking imagery in the exhibition of three Austin based artists: Marc Burckhardt, Rebecca Cohen, and Sydney Yeager. The work, diverse in style and medium, gives rise to a discussion of identity, conflict, and fragmentation.
Marc Burckhardt's paintings are at once foreign and familiar. His figurative paintings embrace tradition as a means to explore private realities and perhaps the larger American contemporary condition. Burckhardt is an artist with one foot planted in illustration, the other in art historical academia, poised to leap into his own brand of deeply personal art and symbolism. "I'm not interested in art for art's sake; I want to say something about identity. Instead of my work being dictated by external forces, it is more and more an internal conversation, something personal and even universal."
Rebecca Cohen's current works of small scale collages are first and foremost about the formal elements of composition, color and texture. Both writer and artist, Cohen combines diverse imagery borrowed from newspapers to create a new and unique whole, one that expresses, with empathy, concern for the chaos that is happening in the world. "I strive to make them painterly in appearance, luring viewers with their surface beauty before confronting them with intimate and sometimes painful detail. They are the stories of strangers made personal through my retelling."
Sydney Yeager's large abstract paintings suggest a state of suspension, where hierarchy yields to endless associations and connections. The idea of independent parts coalescing into a whole, only to collapse again into singular units is of particular interest to this contemporary painter who draws on the pages of art history-decaying frescos, Italian mosaics, pointillism, and process paintings, for example-as inspiration. "These diverse influences hold in common the theme of fragmentation. The question is whether these fragments are nostalgic reminders of a past presence, or conversely, the beginnings of a new form. The answer is never clear, which is why I remain interested in the question."
KARINA HEAN + ERIKA HUDDLESTON
Gallery Shoal Creek presents an exhibition of two artists-Karina Hean + Erika Huddleston- who address the changing landscape. Hean's interest lies in nature's whole; Huddleston's in the urban environment. Featured in the late summer exhibition are Wonder/Wander, Hean's latest series of invented landscapes, and Huddleston's new series of large scale paintings, Views of Shoal Creek.
KARINA HEAN's artwork, grounded in drawing, explores responses to the landscape and encourages conversation about how we conserve, preserve, reshape and utilize our environment. Featured in the exhibition is her newest series, Wonder/Wander. The works on paper, she says, "draw on what is seen and thought while wandering, often by walking, in open space. I imagine the floating landforms in several of the prints to move through the atmosphere untethered, as if I could take a beautiful contour of land, dislodge it and set it free."
Hean's process in creating her monoprints is multifaceted, incorporating monotype printmaking, linocut and collage techniques. Each print is hand pulled with several passes through the press. Working light to dark, translucent to opaque, she creates the layered imagery. "There are," she notes, "some recurring subjects generated from the same template or matrix, making each print another version, location, or moment within the invented landscapes."
Karina Noel Hean is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and teaches at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. She has served on the faculty at the University of Montana, Fort Lewis College and New Mexico State University and holds a BA from St. Johns College, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from Studio Art Centers International and an MFA from New Mexico State University. Karina has worked with SITE Santa Fe on exhibitions and educational programs and for the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts as the Visual Arts Coordinator. She received an American Artist Fellowship at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ireland, has completed several artist-in-residence opportunities in the US, and is included in the Drawing Center's Viewing Program.
ERIKA HUDDLESTON focuses on the study of nature in urban settings. In particular, she is interested in better understanding how perceiving changing natural processes in an urban park setting can affect human psychology. "There's a psychological benefit to seeing the result of this dynamic process," Erika stated. "You know there was this flooding, and rushing water, but after a while, the creek calms and becomes peaceful again. It's reassuring knowing that no matter how chaotic nature gets, it always becomes peaceful again."
As artist-in-residence with Shoal Creek Conservancy, she has created a series of large scale paintings, a continuation of her study of the central Austin creek that empties into Lady Bird Lake. "I am currently working downstream from Duncan Park (9th Street) and along the trails where I paint life size on location," she says. "Sometimes the creek is truly a shoal of dry limestone pebbles, sometimes there is a thin skim of water, and at other times there is 5' of water from a flood." Huddleston's earlier study of Shoal Creek focused on the site near 24th Street and Lamar.
Huddleston holds a BA in Fine Arts from Vanderbilt University and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from University of Texas-Austin. Her interest in Shoal Creek and its natural aspects began in graduate school. "As Austinites, we have this great wilderness in such close proximity. I realized that I could merge my art background with my landscape analysis. Painting provides a complimentary data-collection counterpart to digital mappings of landscapes and is a tactic for recording temporal change which is traditionally considered difficult to depict in plan."
TONY SALADINO and KAREN HAWKINS
Gallery Shoal Creek is pleased to showcase Tony Saladino and Karen Hawkins in an exhibition that opens on May 16 and runs through June 14. The gallery, located at the Flatbed Building, will host an opening reception on Friday, May 16, from 6 to 8 pm.
Diverse in medium and direction, the current work by Mr. Saladino and Ms. Hawkins stands in contrast yet creates an integrated presentation of the intersection of form and movement. The exhibition will feature large scale abstracted paintings and monotypes by Saladino alongside sculptural installations created from decommissioned books by Karen Hawkins.
Working on flat surfaces, Tony Saladino moves with ease between painting and printmaking. Movement and fluidity are the foundation for both as he strives for spontaneity in his mark making. "Inspiration," he says, "comes from encountering the verticals and horizontals of a sometimes vast, other times immediate view. Although I call my current work abstract there are, to me, obvious markers or signs of what is real on the roadside or my studio yard."
A sculptor, Karen Hawkins' work explores "the book," a rapidly declining composition, and how, or whether, it remains purposeful in a digital age. "I begin changing the book's structure," she notes, "by expanding the physical properties of the book; folding, cutting and excavating it, rendering each page largely unreadable, and each book shape-shifted into an object, not of literature or science or history any longer, but an object of art."
TONY SALADINO, who lives and works in Hurst, Texas, begin his association with Gallery Shoal Creek in the 1980's. First showing his mezzotint prints, he moved his focus to painting. In paintings, one saw the same landscape and still life compositions present in the mezzotints, yet in a large scale format. Soon, those landscapes took a turn as the artist moved toward abstracted imagery; landscape elements that were depicted with the mere suggestion of form and geometric references. "The evolution has been fascinating to watch," says the gallery's owner Judith Taylor. "Over the course of twenty years, the need for structure has given way to spontaneity."
"I leave out a lot of visual information while retaining what is essential to convey my reaction to a subject or scene, knowing that the viewer will fill in the spaces and hopefully will engage with the work on a personal level. In the Earth Forms Series of both monotypes and the large works on canvas, I seek to contrast the flat vastness of the landscape and the detail of what is near. The cooler pieces describe visually how water on the land changes with the sun's light and how the wind creates water movement or placid mirror like surfaces."
"I go from working with the inks of printmaking in doing the monotypes to the paints that have a much more fluid response. I enjoy the challenge of moving from one to another medium. As in everything, there are connections. The pigment left on the plate I use to make a monotype often leaves cognate images upon which I start another piece getting many serendipitous passages. Similarly, when painting, I wipe my leftover brush paint on the next blank canvas providing an amorphous background spread undeliberately over the new canvas. As I paint, I move between brush and spatula - consider the areas that need to be more quiet and peaceful using them to juxtapose the detail and highlights of a focal point where I want the viewer's eye to travel."
Austin artist KAREN HAWKINS loves books. She finds materials and inspiration for her sculpted forms from books that have been decommissioned, pulled from shelves and discarded. "In creating small and large-scale sculptures from the pages of [these] old, forgotten books," notes Chris Cowden (executive director, Women and Their Work), "Hawkins deconstructs and re-purposes the meaning originally found there. The authority and significance of the printed page-harkening back to the first mass printed book, the Gutenberg Bible-is becoming obsolete in the digital age. In Hawkins' work, the page assumes a different role, becoming a vehicle for nostalgia conveyed through form. Her process (like reading) illustrates the passage of time but meaning is perceived as visceral rather than cerebral."
As viewers, we marvel at the transformation, the structural elements and the forms that emerge. For Hawkins, though, it is the process that drives her artistic focus. "I begin by changing the book's structure-folding, cutting and excavating it-and rendering each page largely unreadable. Each book shape shifts into an object, not of literature or science or history any longer, but an object of art. As the meaning of each book is subjugated to [this] objectification process, a shifting beauty transpires, aside from any language or text or etching held between the endpapers. . . I like seeing the type turn into something else when I'm folding it, and the letters switch from vertical to horizontal and take on new shape. My work can only be created by absolute perfection in repetition, and that appeals to me. There's something very meditative to me about this motion."
ALEKSANDER & LYUBA TITOVETS
Gallery Shoal Creek will showcase new work by Aleksander and Lyuba Titovets in an exhibition which celebrates the classically trained duo's artistic success each has achieved in their adopted country. The Titovets will be in Austin for the opening reception on Friday, April 25, from 6 to 8 pm.
In 1992, Aleksander and Lyuba Titovets left their homeland and the city of St. Petersburg to resettle in El Paso, Texas. Summarizing the couple's journey, a former professor of Aleksander's at the St. Petersburg University pointed out, "You got your education in Russia, but you became an artist in the United States." The two signature pieces for the show, Sunny Texas and Secret Garden, capture the life they have built for their family in the arid region of their adopted country.
Inspired by the light and landscape of two worlds, Aleksander's impressionistic work reveals his classical training while creating a warmth and energy reflective of the artist himself. Lyuba's talent lies in her visual narratives. The elements she gathers for a still life tell a story awash in vibrant colors, while her festive village scenes conjure the folklore of her childhood.
Aleksander, the youngest of three boys, grew up in a cabin in the woods of western Siberia. "We did not have much, but we had a big family and were very happy." His work, he acknowledges, is derived from his childhood experiences of "sitting in a cabin in the forest in winter, watching the last light of day, [I felt as if I] could melt into nature."
Today, Aleksander continues to gravitate to the natural world of his youth and the classical training of the Russian School of Oil Painting. Stylistically, he combines the genre's powerful, realistic involvement with the soft, lyrical looseness of impressionism to create what he calls "quiet paintings" – paintings which reveal a reflective and optimistic spirit. His strong, confident brushstrokes and harmonic use of color create inviting warmth that dominates all his work, particularly the signature winterscapes.
Lyuba grew up in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) amidst the city's rich cultural heritage. The only child of two engineers, she describes her parents as "Russian intellectuals ... known for their love of culture. I was surrounded by it. At five, I began my first art classes; at 10 years of age, I began art school. My dreams were different from my friends... for me, painting was almost like breathing."
The Titovets met while students at the State University in St. Petersburg where both received a BA and MFA from the College of Fine Arts. Exploring a range of creative expressions, Lyuba worked in stage and costume design, illustrated books, and was involved with the development of an art history program which integrated history, philosophy and the arts.
In paintings and drawings, Lyuba relies on her love of visual storytelling and her observations centered on universal themes – people, customs, and social exchange. A sense of interaction comes to play in each painting as she gathers elements to create narratives awash in vibrant color. From festive village scenes to still life compositions and interior vignettes, the focus is on simple things and the pleasures people find in everyday life. So, it is no surprise that the cultural heritage of the Southwest appeals to her.
"I believe that we live in a perfect environment... whereas on the two coasts, east and west, everything is derivative of the European. Here, the blend of Indian, Mexican, Spanish and European is a mix that has created a style that continues to evolve and capture the imagination." With discipline and drive that never wavers, the Titovets have added their own heritage to the cultural mix of their adopted city and country.
Since arriving in the United States, Lyuba has received numerous awards and honors from national and international competitions including the National Oil Painters of America competition, Great American Artists exhibition in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Westminster Abbey show in London. Her name is included in the Archive of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. Additionally, Lyuba's work is in public and private collections in the United States and seven other countries, and she has illustrated several books.
Aleksander has participated in competitions with the National Academy of Design in New York and the Oil Painters of America. He won Best of Show in the International Fine Art Competition four years in a row among competitors in his region. For many years running, he has been selected as a guest artist for Great American Artists and Artists of America who honored him in 1998 with the Artist's Choice Award. His work is included in public and private collections worldwide, including those of Sophia Loren and the King of Spain, His Majesty Juan Carlos.
In 2008, Aleksander was invited to the White House to meet First Lady Laura Bush, whose official portrait he would paint for the National Portrait Gallery. It was an extraordinary honor for the Russian who came to this country with twenty-five dollars in his pocket and in a few short years achieved national recognition and success as an artist.
MILT KOBAYASHI: New Works
Gallery Shoal Creek continues its longtime relationship with New York based painter Milt Kobayashi with a solo exhibition, March 21 through April 12. The 2014 exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of the gallery's representation of Kobayashi.
Time stands still in Milt Kobayashi's urban paintings. Yet, the expressive narrative flows and ebbs with a rhythmic cadence of color and brevity of brushstrokes. Masterfully, he distills the essence of an intimate moment or a late-night mood to the point that the imagery itself engages the audience in an intriguing dialogue. It is with the mere hint of detail that Kobayashi has perfected his fine art of subtlety.
A third generation Japanese-American, Kobayashi blends the elements of oriental line, pattern and composition with a refreshing spontaneity. As a young illustrator in New York City, he frequented the Metropolitan Museum of Art to study the masters - Sargent, Chase, Duveneck, Vuillard, Velazquez. Even today, as a highly successful painter, he returns often to spend time with the artists of the 18th and 19th century who have influenced his own work.
Like Whistler before him, Kobayashi studied "ukiyo-e" prints by Japanese masters such as Hokusai, Sharaku, and Utamaro. He was drawn to their use of color harmonies, patterns, negative spaces, and especially their approach to composition and design. Here he found balance, a way to blend a strong design aesthetic with an intimate characterization of his subject.
Milt Kobayashi shipped his first paintings to Austin in 1984, at the invitation of the former owner Ann Hagood. It was the first time the artist had exhibited outside of New York City. The four works were well received, and soon he had a strong base of collectors in Texas for his intriguing urban paintings. The gallery hosted its first solo exhibition with Kobayashi in the fall of 1989. Interestingly, that exhibition was the first gallery showing in which current owner Judith Taylor was involved. Gallery Shoal Creek has hosted numerous solo exhibitions for the artist and placed his work with collectors throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. Taylor credits Kobayashi as having had a significant impact on the evolution of the gallery over the last three decades by prompting a move toward a contemporary collection of artists.
Ms. Kunc and the six other participating printmakers - Ina Kaur, Koichi Yamamoto, Monika Meler, Michael Schneider, Annu Vertanen, and Brian Curling - are among the most noted contemporary printmakers working today. The gallery will host an Opening Reception on Friday, January 24, 6 to 8 pm; Ms. Kunc, Ms. Kaur, and Mr. Yamamoto will be in the gallery on Saturday, January 25, for a special Artists' Talk set for 11 am.
The exhibition, International Printmakers, brings together seven artists from diverse backgrounds and experiences. All embrace exploration and experimentation and in unison provide a global overview of contemporary printmaking. The works "speak to each other and create a multifaceted way to view ideas," notes Ms. Kunc. "As viewers, we seek connections and contrasts."
Common threads run throughout the selected work, yet each artist brings his or her distinct voice to the conversation. Viewed in this new context, an expansive dialogue emerges, one which Ina Kaur describes as a "synthesis between opposites -- East/West, ancient/modern, oriental/occidental -- and how they coexist. "