Eric Standley: STRATA

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Marta Hewett Gallery Presents: Eric Standley: STRATA

On View: April 7th – June 3rd, 2017

Eric Standley’s paper cut artworks consist of multiple layers of laser cut paper meticulously crafted into complex compositions that strive to signify the infinite. His ongoing series titled Either/Or Decreed is deeply influenced by Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s assertion of individuality before faith, and the layers of aesthetic and ethical states of being.

Strata will feature work that continues Eric Standley’s meditative drawing and cutting process while exploring visual archetypes. Standley’s newest compositions are derived from geometry occurring on a molecular level. When a DNA braid is viewed from the top-down, the layered double helix rotation abides by the golden ratio (phi). Furthermore, waves along the braid conceal and reveal strata of information.

Fractal geometry has a self-similar replication that creates visual rhythm. These rhythms are found at a cosmological scale in the ever-expanding universe, across culture and time in Gothic and Islamic architecture as well as at the profoundly fundamental building blocks of life.” – Eric Standley

The visual exploration of Eric Standley’s work is as complex as the ideas that inspire them. Intricate designs and patterns are accumulated in layers that challenge our perceptions. These elaborate compositions are a feast for both the eyes and the mind.

Biography: Eric Standley (b. 1968) received his B.F.A. from the Massachusetts College of Art and his M.F.A. from Savannah College of Art and Design. He is an Associate Professor of Studio Art and the Foundations of Art and Design Coordinator for the School of Visual Arts at Virginia Tech. Eric Standley lives and works in Blacksburg, Virginia. Recent solo exhibitions include: Daphne, Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, VA, Sharjah Museum of Art, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA. In addition, his work was featured in the CODA Paper Art 2015 Biannual, CODA Museum Apeldoorn, Netherlands and the 10th Anniversary (2016) of the Scherenschnitt (Shear Cutting) Museum in Vreden, Germany.  Eric Standley’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions throughout the county. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition at Marta Hewett Gallery.

Eric Standley - KismetsmImages: (top) Kismet (detail), cut paper and gold leaf, 24”x24”, 2017. (bottom) Kismet, cut paper and gold leaf, 24”x24”, 2017. Courtesy of the Artist and Marta Hewett Gallery

AEQAI Review: Birds of Paradise

March 19th, 2017  |  Published in March 2017

The birds in Kevin Veara’s paintings are vividly alive in their stylized natural world. Birds of Paradise, an exhibition of a dozen or so of the artist’s recent works at Marta Hewett Gallery, Cincinnati, is on view in an area far from the door, almost as though these handsome creatures might fly right out if given the opportunity.

americana-11Americana #11 American Robin, 2014, 30″ x 30″, Acrylic on wood panel

In Veara’s paintings the birds occupy their own world, which is Veara’s version of what he sees from his studio windows and out and about in the surrounding forested banks and flood plains of the Sangamon River Valley, near Springfield, Illinois. Strategically placed bird feeders provide year-round and seasonal visitor bird life with reason to congregate within his view, as his studio and house are deep among the trees.

These are specific breeds of birds; they can be looked up in your pocket bird book, but in Veara’s paintings each seems more individual than prototype. He is as close an observer of plant life as bird life and his backgrounds are dense with foliage. This flower-filled world has no depth of vision; it is deliberately distilled to formal design but retains individuality and is noted in some of the titles. “Fanciful Bluebell” is with the American robin; “New England Aster” with Io moth. In at least one work and possibly more flowers have become something like miniature star bursts. The sharply horizontal “Passenger Pigeon” includes a side view of flowers which almost seem to be pointing the way for that now extinct species. Birds and flowers are not alone here, however. Butterflies,moths and caterpillars also occupy this live and pulsing world. Each has reason for inclusion because it relates in some fashion to the bird in question.

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Exult #3 American Robin with Fanciful Bluebell, 2016, 30″ x 30″, Acrylic on wood.

Veara likes a square format, but occasionally stretches into a horizontal more than twice as wide as it is high, a shape that makes this viewer, at any rate, think of birds’ horizontal flight patterns. In the exhibition a couple of pieces are vertical but they are exceptions. Each of these works shows a particular variety of warbler, its yellow head vital to the composition.

Thick, gesso-prepared wooden panels are the base for Veara’s paintings, a solid ground that stands out from the wall and calls for attention. Initial drawings on tracing paper are transferred to the panels and completed there. It’s interesting to note that the artist is a professional tattooist, a line of work that has its own influence on his paintings.

exult_06Exult #6 Warbler, 2016, 30″ x 30″, Acrylic on wood with silver leaf

In the midst of all this color, I found myself looking closely at the two black, gray and white works. “Exult #6 Warbler” (acrylic with silver leaf) has an extremely formal background, as does “Americana #11 American Robin” (acrylic). Both are square, 30 inches by 30 inches. Although lack of color puts the subject another dimension away from reality, each of these – especially the robin – has a decided sense of life. It’s something to do with the way he portrays the eyes. Both birds are seen in profile, Veara’s frequent choice of viewpoint, but the single eye of each seems to be watching.

The works on view come from two series by this artist, one tagged as Exult and the other Americana. Veara is a dedicated observer of nature and is clearly knowing about what he sees. He is a native of the area in which he lives and works. His paintings, he hopes, raise consciousness of environmental concerns and recognition of the complications of climate change, invasive species and genetic modification. These weighty and important aims do not detract from the pleasure of this engaging exhibition, its subjects meticulously observed and carefully portrayed but never stifled.

exult-08Exult #8 Whip-poor Will, New England Aster and Io Moth, 2016, 30″ x 30″, Acrylic on wood 

In notes made while looking at the show I wrote, of the painting of a robin and a bluebell, “a swirl of pleasure.” That’s not necessarily art criticism but does point up why we like art in our lives.

–Jane Durrell

Kevin Veara

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Americana #16 Carolina Parakeet, 2015, 50″ x 20″, Acrylic on wood

Marta Hewett Gallery Presents: Kevin Veara – The Birds of Paradise

February 3rd – March 25th, 2017

The Birds of Paradise features a selection of recent paintings by artist Kevin Veara from his Exult and Americana series. The focus of these brilliantly colored acrylic paintings are the birds and plants of the Sangamon River Valley, near Springfield, IL. The array of avian life range from the common to uncommon, and include endangered or extinct species.  Staying true to their anatomy and plumage the various species are rendered in a style unique to Veara’s practice. The meticulously painted compositions depict the birds encircled by swirling foliage and fauna. These bright and complex environments refer to specific habitats and correlate with the bird’s species. By illustrating this relationship, the artist reinforces environmental issues and concerns. The subjects become metaphors for the human complexity in climate change, invasive species and genetic modification.

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Exult #3 American Robin with Fanciful Bluebell, 2016, 30″ x 30″, Acrylic on wood.

A native of Springfield IL, Veara’s studio is surrounded by forest designated as a nature preserve that is home to a myriad species of birds who frequent the feeders outside his windows. Here on the steep forested banks and flood plains of the Sangamon River the artist finds his inspiration. His observations are in tune with the natural time – a calendar based of the arrival and departure of the birds. Species such as the Juncos arrive in the fall from the arctic and migrate north in the spring. The Sangamon Valley is as far south as the Junco travels and uses this area to breed. In addition, this location gives Veara a heightened awareness for his surroundings and the birds become barometers for the quality or deterioration of the environment. The Whip-poor-will for example, that once flourished in the Sangamon Valley is now absent due to loss of habitat from invasive Bush Honeysuckle. Veara’s profession as a tattoo artist for the past 20 years further informs his process. His paintings begin with drawings on tracing paper which are then transferred to a gesso prepared wood panel. The influence of tattoo design is evident in the vivid colors and exotic forms that carry though the paintings.

Biography

Kevin Veara received his MFA from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 1991. Since 1992 he has been the owner of Black Moon Tattoos in Springfield IL. Veara has exhibited at the Illinois State Museum, University of Illinois Springfield, and Southern Illinois University. Gallery exhibitions include Marta Hewett Gallery (Cincinnati), PackerSchopf Gallery (Chicago), Strawn Gallery (Jacksonville), and Focus 4 (Chicago). Vera’s paintings are in the permanent collections of the Illinois Audubon Society, the Illinois State Museum, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. This is the artist’s third show at the Marta Hewett Gallery and his first solo exhibition in Cincinnati.

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Americana #14 Passenger Pigeon, 2014, 50″ x 20″, Acrylic on wood.

 All images: Courtesy of the Artist and Marta Hewett Gallery

AEQAI Review: Life in the Woods

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November 19th, 2016  |  Published in October/November 2016

Depending on where you stand when you view them, Kevin Muente’s landscapes can be two different paintings.  When seen from a distance, they initially appear to be works of almost photographic realism.  When you get close to the paintings and notice his finely detailed brush strokes, the formal composition of the work dissolves.  Forest trees and undergrowth, flowing water, fields of snow, twilight sky become abstracted lines, forms, and colors.  It turns out the paintings actually exist somewhere between these two extremes.  The fluctuating quality of Kevin Muente’s landscape painting is beautifully on display in “Life in the Woods” at Marta Hewett Gallery, where it will run through November 27,2016.

The exhibition includes eleven large oil on canvas landscapes and several smaller works, some of which are studies for the larger landscapes.  Muente paints scenes he has discovered during his time in woods from Appalachia to Alaska.  His compositions are carefully balanced.  Many of these scenes are captured at twilight, when the sky casts a dramatic light.  This light, at first glance, makes the paintings seem like enlarged photographs.  Yet Muente works with such strong color contrasts that the components of his paintings—bodies of water, forest interiors, fields, mountains, sky—easily morph into abstract patterns and planes of pure color.  He has reduced the elements of the natural settings from which he takes his inspiration to certain essentials of land, water, and sky.  To portray these essentials, Muente pushes color beyond what it looks like in nature.  The initial impression of realism evaporates the longer you study the canvases.  When viewing his landscapes, you always come to the realization these are paintings, not photographs.

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Barnes Creek, Olympic National Park.

In “Barnes Creek, Olympic National Park” the reflection of the setting sun makes the flowing water appear to be on fire.  The brilliant blue, yellow, and green color scheme of the painting is very appealing to the eye.  What saves this landscape from being too postcard pretty is the slight untidiness of nature.  The creek is eroding its banks; the fallen trees show the effects of recent storm damage and natural decay.  A clear, bright light illuminates this scene of fecundity and decomposition.  The carefully chosen details are rendered realistically, but the limits on the visual details and the intense color palette make this a work of almost abstract beauty, more painterly than natural.

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Pond Near Teklanika River.

In “Pond Near Teklanika River” the embankment of a pond with dense underbrush and a scattering of scraggly pine trees runs through the center of the canvas.  This is a mirror image painting:  the trees, mountains and sky above the embankment are reflected in the still pond seen in the lower section of the picture.  Although it is daylight, there are storm clouds in the sky, so the light is muted and the colors of the painting are pale.  There is scum on the pond and the trees are barren and windswept, but the water does not seem murky and the trees are almost too precisely placed.  The most compelling aspect of the painting is its composition.  The sky above the embankment and the reflecting water below divide the painting into three strong horizontal bands intersected by the jutting vertical lines of the trees.  The work is a masterly example of Muente’s ability to lead the viewer’s eye into his paintings.

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Storm over Sable Pass, Denali National Park.

In the lower left corner of “Storm over Sable Pass, Denali National Park” delicate high mountain vegetation is rendered in very fine detail.  Each blade of grass, each leaf and bud on the plants is meticulously delineated.  Above this close-up view of nature rises a landscape that culminates in a distant mountain peak and a dramatic purple sky.  The painting demonstrates Muente’s ability to depict vast spaces on a relatively small canvas.  The use of contrasting color in this painting is astonishing.  Between the vivid blue of the creek water and the purple of the sky, the high mountain meadow is bright yellow.  Storm clouds moving through western mountains can cause the sun to cast a light that makes colors seem brighter than they should be, shadows ominous, sky unnatural.  Muente enhances this effect beyond what is seen in nature, making his real mountain pass seem ultimately unreal.

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Winter Twilight.

“Winter Twilight” provides a cool contrast to “Storm Over Sable Pass, Denali National Park.”  On a rocky hillside, scruffy brush and a few barren trees are silhouetted against a winter sky.  There is little grandeur in this landscape.  Color comes primarily from the golden disk of the setting sun and pale yellow light in the sky.  Trees and rocks are seen mostly in shadow.  The pure white snow is rendered so precisely it glistens.  Muente lavishes great attention on the patterns created by barren branches of the trees and the pale light reflected in the drifting snow.  The trees look awkward in their nakedness and the ground is littered with fallen branches, but the snow underneath, with delicate modulations of color, has a cold, flowing beauty.  This is one of Muente’s most restrained landscapes

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Dry Creek Bed

Kevin Muente has found inspiration for his landscapes in some of America’s great national parks.  Dramatic natural scenes give his paintings power, but they also may limit how much his imagination comes into play in his work.  The largest, and to my mind most interesting, painting in this show was inspired by a more modest setting, the woods near his house.  “Dry Creek Bed” is a diptych with familiar elements:  a composition of horizontal segments of sky and earth with a stand of barren trees casting shadows in a pale winter light.  The colors are subdued, mostly tan and light blue.  This painting is about the aesthetic pattern created by the trees, a pattern more abstract than realistic.  The trees, which look almost as if they are dancing, command the viewer’s attention.  Despite its enormous size, the work is relaxed.  In this painting Muente seems less interested in enhancing a dramatic natural scene and more interested in giving free play to his imagination.  Without question, Kevin Muente is one of the most technically skillful painters working in the Greater Cincinnati area today.  It is intriguing to consider what he could produce if he follows the creative direction suggested by “Dry Creek Bed.”

–Daniel A. Burr

Stephen Rolfe Powell – Echoes

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Marta Hewett Gallery presents: Stephen Rolfe Powell – Echoes

December 2nd, 2016 – January 28th, 2017

This exhibition features a collection of recent works by internationally recognized artist Stephen Rolfe Powell. Highlights include his newest series of “echo” glass bowls. Staying true to Stephen’s meticulous choice of color, these symmetrical bowls radiate in a linear pattern from the center, creating an optical spiral of breathtaking color combinations. At over two feet in diameter the bowls commanding scale are a testament to how Powell has pushed the limits of blown glass throughout his career. In addition, the exhibition includes glass wall panels fabricated using his iconic murrine glass designs. These illuminated panels build on Stephen’s well known use of pattern and color to create unique two-dimensional compositions.  This process was the inspiration behind a major commission in 2016 for the University of Kentucky Medical Center. Stephen Powell has exhibited with Marta Hewett Gallery since 1991. This is his first solo show at the gallery’s Pendleton location.

Born (1951) in Birmingham, Alabama Stephen Powell studied painting and ceramics at Centre College and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1974. Between 1980 and 1983 he attended Louisiana State University and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics. It was during this time that Powell had his first experience with glass and it has since become a full-time obsession. In addition to producing his work at his studio in Danville KY, he teaches glass Centre College where he has been a professor since 1983, and was integral in founding the renowned glass program at Centre College in 1985.

Stephen Powell has exhibited his work nationally and internationally. He has participated in lectures workshops, and demonstrations across the globe – including in Russia, Ukraine, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. His work is found in numerous private and public collections including the Auckland Museum, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Mobile Museum of Fine Art, the Huntsville Museum of Art, Corning Museum of Glass, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia and the Speed Museum in Louisville, KY.

As a testament to his passion for glass education, Stephen Powell was awarded Kentucky’s “Teacher of the Year” in 1999 and 2000. In 2004, he was presented the Acorn Award by the Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education. He accepted, in 2010, the Artists Award by the Governor’s Award in the Arts. Recently, in 2013, Powell was presented with the Distinguished Educator Award from the James Renwick Alliance in Washington, D.C.

powell-new-manic-carrot-twister-det-2 Images: Manic Carrot Twister, Blown glass, 6” x 26.5” diameter, Courtesy of the Artist and Marta Hewett Gallery

Kevin Muente

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Winter Twilight    24″ x 48″   Oil on canvas

Life in the Woods: Evocative Landscape Paintings

October 7th – November 26th, 2016

Artist Statement:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what I have to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived” – Henri David Thoreau

As a landscape painter I haven’t spent two years, two months and two days in a cottage in the woods like Thoreau, but I have gone there to seek inspiration and to find my calling. As a landscape painter I’m interested in creating environments in my paintings that reaffirm a sense of place for the viewer and touch on the essential facts of life and our connection to nature. I feel my roll as an artist is to experience places deeply and communicate those experiences to the viewer. I consciously pay attention to the noises, smells, and changes in light and temperature of a place, which allows me to be swept up in the environment.

Several of the paintings in this exhibition were done on site and in quick, spontaneous bursts of excitement and passion. They serve as recordings of my time spent in the woods: palaces where time was well spent, places that have helped me discover something about life. Often these paintings serve as studies for more compulsive detailed studio paintings, some of which are also featured in this exhibition.

The larger paintings focus on the more elemental side of nature. I search for moments when the landscape is in a state of flux or transformation, and then paint from life and from photographs to express these moments poetically. My paintings convey nature at very unique or unusual moments, thus capturing the spirit of a place.     -Kevin Muente

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Storm over Sable Pass, Denali National Park   30″ x 40″   Oil on canvas

 

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Sunrise, Lake Crescent Olympic Park   12″ x 24″   Oil on canvas

Biography

Kevin Muente received his BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1994 and his MFA from the University of Cincinnati in 1999. While working for nationally-known mural artist Timothy Haglund, he assisted in the production of murals at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee, the Johnson Wax Worldwide Headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, and at several private residences. He has exhibited paintings in various national juried competitions and is currently represented by several reputable galleries world wide. This is his first solo exhibition with Marta Hewett Gallery. He a has garnered several awards and honors including the Kentucky Arts Council’s Al Smith individual Artists Fellowship, as well as the Cincinnati Summerfair Aid to Individual Artists Grants. Muente has won several artist residencies at Denali National Park and Preserve, the Wrangell Mountain Center in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, both in Alaska, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and Wildacres in North Carolina. His work is in several public and private collections. Muente has previously taught at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Missouri Western Sate University. He currently teaches art at Northern Kentucky University achieving the rank of full professor.

 

 

Cedric Cox

Cedric Michael Cox is best known for his paintings and drawings, which fall between surrealism and representational abstraction. His work expresses themes ranging from mythical literature to the relationships between the physical body, musical allegories, and natural and man-made landscapes.

As a student at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture Art and Planning, Cox was awarded a fellowship to study at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. After receiving his BFA in Painting in 1999, he began to exhibit locally and regionally.

Cox also has had solo exhibits at the Contemporary Arts Center, the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center, PAC Gallery, and Weston Gallery in  the Aronoff Center for the Arts. In support of his efforts in the visual arts and art education communities, the City of Cincinnati awarded Cox the Individual Artist Grant in 2009. He received a Congressional Award in 2010.

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Street Rhythms