January 27 — April 22, 2012
Constructs XI, 1708 Gallery's latest satellite exhibition at Richmond's historic Linden Row Inn, features works by Sally Bowring, Don Crow, Reni Gower, Chris Gregson, Stephen Griffin, Ray Kass, Javier Tapia and Dan Treado. Join us for the opening reception on Friday, February 3rd from 5 to 9 p.m. The proceeds from all art sales benefit the artist and the exhibition programs of 1708 Gallery. Constructs XI will be on view through April 22, 2012.
Constructs is an ongoing ever changing exhibition that features artists from Virginia. Working in abstraction, the artists create singular works of art through the combination of many elements. While some echo traditional easel painting, others are multi-part assemblages that extend painting's reach into the realm of installation. With comparable sensibilities toward color, shape, and gesture, these artists explore painting through the inventive use of collage, innovative construction techniques, or conceptually layered frameworks.
As a living, breathing exhibition, each installation is a "construct" in itself that reflects the evolving nature of the creative process. By featuring new works at each venue the exhibition is continually reinvented. Since 2005, the exhibition has traveled to eleven venues. Constructs was co-organized by Sally Bowring, Chris Gregson, and Reni Gower.
25 things my work is about:
It’s about surprising myself, experimentation and invention, who I am … being part of the whole, the love and celebration of color and light, the stillness and quiet, making lists, art history and understanding and considering my place in it, not knowing in the beginning and discovering during the process, mediation and pray, taking chances and changing, finding poetry in shape, a private joke and/or a private moment, generosity, lushness and visual pleasure, beauty, doubt and anxiety, growing older and children growing up and friends dying, humor and laughing alone in your studio, my garden – growth cycles changing forms and mutations, the things I read, hear on NPR or the nightly news, listening to music, my love for textiles, Matisse, Joan Snyder’s paintings,Rauschenberg’s invocations, Brice Marden’s elegance, Agnes Martin’s brevity, And …. Louis Armstrong’s “En Vie en Rose”, immediacy and alchemy, shape – the abstracted – the insinuation of a shape, surface – it’s complex nature – it’s emotional possibilities. It’s about all of these – and - none of these directly.
A native New Yorker – now living in Richmond, VA– Sally Bowring teaches painting at VCU. She is active in the art community as advocate and commissioner on the Public Art Commission for the City of Richmond. Bowring’s solo shows include Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA (2010), Warm Springs Gallery, Warm Springs, VA (2009, 2008), and Deborah Davis Gallery, Hudson, NY (2007). Her group shows include Washington & Lee University (2010), Mid-Atlantic Biennial (2010), George Mason University (2009), and Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA (2009).
A painter and collage artist, Don Crow has recently worked with digital media. He is assistant professor at VCU-Q in Doha, Qatar, where he teaches design and foundation courses. He has been awarded numerous grants and distinctions, including the Pollak Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts as well as inclusion in the Virginia Museum exhibition, Un/Common Ground. His work has been shown at Reynolds Gallery, 1708 Gallery, and Plant Zero as well as other venues, and he is among the Virginia artists whose work is currently featured in the traveling exhibition, Constructs. Over the years, Don Crow has worked in large-scale oil on canvas, painted paper collage, and watercolor drawings, all influenced by his training in abstract expressionism. More recently, Crow has included new media in his work: the digital processes of photography, abstract digitally rendered prints, and three-dimensional objects within his exhibition design. His fragile paper collages at one end of the spectrum and his large digital prints at the other end draw attention to objects as obvious constructions and as invisible processes.
These pieces are part of an ongoing series of works on paper. I blend a fluid improvisational painting approach with a repetitively structured and analytical one to create complex images that counter visual skimming. I incorporate the circle as a repetitive decorative motif, as a metaphor for binary code, and as a cultural symbol. Through intricate patterning, I combine these references to contrast passive technological consumption with the redemptive nuance of work made by hand. While also addressing issues of beauty, my art becomes an intimate vehicle for reflection or reprieve.
Reni Gower is a Professor in the Painting and Printmaking Department at VCU. In 2008, she was recognized by VCUArts with an Award of Excellence in Research, Teaching, and Service and by the Southeastern College Art Conference in 2007 with an Award of Excellence in Teaching. In addition to her teaching and painting practice, she curates award winning traveling exhibitions. Her most recent project is The Divas and Iron Chefs of Encaustic. Her artwork has been showcased at international and national venues for over 30 years. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a NEA / SECCA Southeastern Artist Fellowship and Virginia Commission for the Arts Project Grants. Her work is represented in various collections including the Library of Congress Print Collection; Pleasant Company / Mattel, Inc; the American Embassies in Lima, Peru and Osaka, Japan; Media General, Inc; and the Federal Reserve Bank. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University, a Master of Arts degree from University of Minnesota-Duluth, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In these paintings, natural and manmade forms merge and overlap. I use organic shapes and natural references and tie them together. I combine the figurative with the organic. Multiple organic forms, lines and geometric shapes intersect. I disregard a signature style for a broader more eclectic approach to art making. All decisions are made intuitively from the mark placements, color selections and the arrangement of the visual components. I freely refer to earlier art historical styles and abandon strict art historical dogma. I use abrupt visual shifts, often a lack of formal cohesion and an off balance approach.
After graduating from the University of Arizona with a Theatre Production degree, Chris Gregson studied stagecraft at the Studio and Forum of Stage Design under Lester Polakov in New York City. He was a design assistant to Peter Wexler, and a stage artist at the Julliard School of Music and Brooklyn's Chelsea Theatre. In 1991, he co-curated Re-Picturing Abstraction, a city-wide exhibition of contemporary abstract paintings that appeared simultaneously at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Anderson Gallery, VCU; Marsh Gallery, University of Richmond; and 1708 Gallery. He has exhibited his work throughout the US and in Europe at galleries and museums. His work is represented in corporate and private collections as well as in the U.S. Embassy in Guinea, Africa. Gregson has lectured at the Southeastern College Arts Conference, VCU, and the Virginia Association of Museums. His writings on art have appeared in numerous publications. Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA and MFM Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA represents his work.
I began painting the “Strata” series in the spring of 2007. The Strata paintings in this exhibit were completed while on a recent fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, VA. The basic horizontal stripe compositions in these paintings were initially inspired by the abundant river views in the beach town where I live, but the end result more closely resembles a cross-section of earth or the strata found in rocks. The painting process itself is similar to an archeological dig. I apply multiple layers of paint, which are eventually sanded and scraped to reveal previously forgotten colors and textures. This method of painting retains an element of chance in an otherwise very structured format.
Steve Griffin has been an active painter for over forty-five years. In 1968 he was one of twelve undergraduate students chosen from a national pool to attend the first year of the new Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum in New York City. The ISP is still active today. Since retiring from teaching in the Art Department at the University of Mary Washington in 2008, Steve has continued to work in his studio in Colonial Beach, Va. He recently received a 2011-2012 Professional Fellowship in painting from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and a residency fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, Va. Griffin’s work hangs in many private and corporate collections and has been included in over one-hundred and seventy-five exhibitions. His work is represented by several galleries including the Glave Kocen Gallery in Richmond.
Although abstract, my paintings are derived from drawings and life-studies from nature, and attempt to represent the processes of nature at work rather than pictorial description. I have had the opportunity to live and paint outdoors in some of America’s most beautiful natural environments – coastal northern California, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Maine coastline, and the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. Most recently, I have been working with an oil emulsion mixture that I apply to wrinkled paper that has been toned with water media and mica powder; the transparent oil mixture is invisible until I dust it with powder pigments that I rub on the surface and that allows the marks that I have made to appear. These are covered with shaved beeswax and then stretch-mounted on primed wood panels.
Ray Kass, an internationally recognized painter, has works in many public and private collections. His recent publications on art include: Sounds of The Inner Eye: John Cage, Mark Tobey and Morris Graves, University of Washington Press, Seattle and London (2002), and The Sight of Silence: John Cage’s Complete Watercolors, 2011 (National Academy Museum and UVA Press). Kass is founder and artistic director of the Mountain Lake Workshop, a collaborative, community-based art project drawing on the customs and environmental and technological resources of the New River Valley and the Appalachian region. The interdisciplinary character of the workshops has focused on collaborative projects with highly specialized scientific communities.
After exploring watercolors for more than 12 years now, coming from figuration to abstraction, I have come to realize that I have been engaged in trying to discover a system that would allow the exploration of any subject, from the most deeply personal to the most mundane. During this time I have been involved in a process of critique, elimination and discrimination at times. This is a process where the possibilities although narrowing, have helped uncover some essential form of simplicity. In this manner my abstract and expressive watercolors are not abstract and expressive by choice. It seems as if I have not made ‘a choice’ to choose an ‘abstract style’, but instead, abstraction and expression have chosen me.
The path of this Peruvian born artist, who became a painter after pursuing studies in Industrial Engineering and Communications at the University of Lima during the 1970’s, has been significant in the US. He studied Fine Arts (Painting) in the art program of Santa Monica College in Los Angeles, CA. He earned his Bachelors and Master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with highest honors. He has been awarded several grants and scholarships; he won the Teresa Pollak award for 2010; has participated in numerous international and national exhibitions. His work belongs in the collections of The National Museum of Peru, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, the Museum Pedro de Osma in Lima, Peru. His work is represented by Reynolds Gallery in Richmond, VA. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Painting and Printmaking at VCU, where he has been teaching for the past 23 years.
Robert Ryman’s comment about the nature of painting in the latter half of the twentieth century has always stuck with me: “It’s not a question of what to paint, but rather, how to paint it.” My paintings are process works that borrow subject matter from sources such as film and photography, physics, biology, x-ray and electron microscope images, and most recently, illustrations from anatomy books. The organic forms I tend to employ are fluid but restrained, and part of their function is to articulate the space that surrounds the form; paint is called to substitute for flesh, for air, for dust particles floating in cinematic light.
Employing unique tools, such as squeegees and scrapers, artist Dan Treado is able to manipulate solvent and oil paint into luminous, richly surfaced paintings. Treado's paintings are process works that borrow from sources such as film and photography, physics and biology textbooks, and electron microscope images. His multi-paneled canvas and mylar works explore the relationship between science and art and more recently the way in which we look at film and view a painting. Treado studied at Georgetown University, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Pratt Institute; he exhibits in New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC.