Works by Walter Chaney, Alexander Johnson, Matthew Kreher, Sharon Owens, and B. Lucy Stevens
May 30 – June 28, 2013
Established in 2009, our biennial All Media Juried Exhibition has featured some of the best and most interesting work in the South Coast Region of New England. Last summer 175 submissions were entered into the competition, and our juror, Sabrina Locks, chose 54 works for the show. Locks, Curatorial Assistant for Contemporary Art at the RISD Museum, curated a lively and provocative exhibition.
In addition, she selected 5 artists for the prestigious Juror's Award – an exhibition in our gallery for the summer of 2013. This exhibition is called 5 and features the works of Walter C. Chaney, Alexander Johnson, Matthew Kreher, Sharon Owens, and B. Lucy Stevens.
Walter C. Chaney
What's In The Title?
I wind up coming up with the title after the work is completed. That is because I'm not always sure where each piece, once begun, is headed. So, why a title? You may never have any real unadulterated choices in your lifetime where you are the total pilot, but as the maker, this is your right, your decision. So what else is in the title? To me a title is another way of saying "this is all that I am willing to say about this piece. " The rest is up to you, the viewer.
You're either going to walk right by this one or it may cause you to stop (and I hope you do). So if you stopped, the title is there just in case you want or need some kind of explanation, not too much cause life is short, and anything more would ruin it.
Alexander Clayton Johnson
I paint predominantly people and animals. However, their role as content is incidental and parallel to their primary function, which relates to the impetus to work.
There is nothing more fascinating than the morphology of animated form. But my decision to paint it need not be construed as necessarily stemming from a desire to excite the viewer, or convey the beauty or character of nature.
I need to paint something all the time–every day. This is a compulsion. The speculative fiction writer Phillip K. Dick was afflicted by what he called hypergraphia, or the overwhelming impulse to write constantly. He wrote hundreds of pages per day eventually filling tens of thousands of pages in his lifetime. I am afflicted with a similar disorder, but my urge is to paint rather than write.
In this series, my eyes fell upon old family photographs. The identities of the individual subjects have been obfuscated by time. My family oral historians have all either died of old age, or become unreliable due to dementia. The faces in my source material are both related to me and removed from me. There is a vague familiarity.
In painting from them, I scratched, stabbed, scraped, blurred and treated the paint film in an attempt to mimic the vagueness and obscurity of the source material.
Much of my current work explores the thematic undercurrents of family dynamics and interpersonal interaction, often played out against the backdrop of familiar settings with which I feel a strong emotional connection, both in the interior and exterior landscape. I attempt to delve into the spiritual trajectories of the individuals depicted and the mystery of revelation and its transformative effects, while imbuing the figures and their surroundings with energetic color and an almost palpable, flowing animism.I favor a spontaneous and varied approach to paint handling and mark-making with a strong concern for structure and solidity of form, and seek to express the underlying rhythms of my chosen motif. Regardless of style, I am attracted to paintings which exude a sense of excitement; a human presence within the handwriting of the brushstroke is important to me.
My creativity has been formed by the gifts I find in nature. As a child there was a meadowland by my home. As an only child for six years, I enjoyed the meadow as my private play land where milkweed pods became unopened treasures and vines became twine to weave, and berries became decorative ornaments. A simple pleasure ride in the countryside allows me to enjoy and absorb the free forma and wildness that translate into my work. I see shapes and patterns in nature that inspire me to create in the studio with endless possibility.
Roots and braided vines become a vessel or a basket that later can be used as a treasured item in the home, a special gift or even a simple functional container or vessel. Color is also found on my country rides. The deep russets of the woods, the soft greens of the grasses and marshes and the neutrals that complement the natural landscape are also a major influence in my work. When I begin a design, I often put shades and colors together that are unexpected. I work intuitively but with the palette of the woods and often rearrange what one finds in the natural world. This basic idea is the heart of my work and the results are unique and special to my vision.
For this exhibit I am using all natural materials such as hemp, jute, roping, and natural gourds. Recycled antlers and tree fungi, pine needles, sea grass, and fragrant sweet grass are also employed along with twisted vines. My sculptural pieces range in size from very large to very small. When a piece is begun I work intuitively with the texture and surface of a chosen material, which ultimately determines the size and shape of the finished piece.
B. Lucy Stevens
We went to live in Indonesia last year. My husband had research to do, and my daughter and I happily tagged along. All of us felt that our world was about to open up, and we were giddy with hopes and dreams for our big exotic adventure.
One of my dreams–kind of silly, I know, but I've had this dream since I was small–to have a green bird–a beautiful green bird that would ride around on my shoulder wherever I went. Once, in a market in Denpasar, I spotted my green bird, high up in a cage fluttering with reds and yellows. We were rushed that day, we had no time for bird-shopping, but I knew I would go back for him.
But I never did. A few days later my husband was almost killed in a horrible car accident. His neck was broken, and his back. We had to be air–lifted to a hospital in Singapore, where we spent the next six weeks.
We didn't go back to Indonesia.
Many months later, back in my studio in cold and dreary Pawtucket, I was playing with color and shapes, waiting to see what they turned into. Exhausted and preoccupied, I wasn't really paying attention to what I was doing. And then I saw that what was taking shape under my brush was a green bird. A flood of sadness and longing opened up inside me. Sadness for my poor husband, who was still recovering (he's ok now). Longing for things to have turned out differently, for the loss of our dreams, longing for my beautiful green bird. Things I hadn't had time to feel.
Many of my paintings happen like that. It helps me a lot.
Walter C. Chaney was born in Norfolk, Virginia. He spent many years working in the toy industry in Rhode Island. Before that he was a production artist for Walt Disney World, and later a woodworker at deGruy Woodworks in Mobile, Alabama.
He received a BA from the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida in Printmaking. He went on to complete his MFA in printmaking and drawing at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a member of The Boykin Spaniel Society and The Connecticut Academy of Fine Art.
Alexander Clayton Johnson is a South Coast based artist primarily working figuratively in oil on canvas. Johnson is self-taught, having lived and worked reclusively in New York City through most of the 2000s.
More recently, he attended the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth for a BFA in Painting/2D Studies and will be pursuing an MFA in Painting starting in the fall of 2013 at a location yet to be determined. He has been and is influenced by photographic referents from diverse sources, such as the western canon of art history, advertisements from fashion magazines, pornography, newspapers, popular science magazines, and family photos. He also takes pictures directly for the purpose of incorporation into new two-dimensional works.
Matthew Kreher earned a BFA in Painting from Washington University and an MFA in Painting from
Boston University; his paintings have been shown extensively in New England and New York, and a list of his most recent solo and group shows include "Person, Place or Cat" at the Sarah Doyle Gallery, Brown
University; "Matthew Kreher- Paintings and Drawings" at Penn State, Altoona, PA; "Figurations" at The Chazan Gallery, Providence, RI; and "The Artist's Choice" at the Atlantic Gallery in New York, NY. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Kreher and his partner, Joanne Krauss and their two cats currently reside in Carolina, Rhode Island and are currently restoring a 19th century farmhouse.
Sharon Owens lives in Fall River and grew up near natural open spaces. Her early encounters in those spaces introduced her to the variety of natural materials and textures and they continue to inform her work today. She has studied with regional and internationally known basket makers and weavers. She is a resident artist at the Greater Fall River Art Association and has exhibited her work throughout the region.
B. Lucy Stevens moved to Providence because of the Big Blue Bug. Any place that would celebrate such a wonderfully tacky creation had to be an interesting place to live. For over twenty years Lucy worked as a journalist and a writing teacher, but a few years ago her left brain completely shut down, and now all she wants to do is make art.
Lucy's work is in several galleries in the U.S. and also in France. She lives in a big house (with a bright green door!) with her husband Mickey, and daughter Izzy.