Experience the Passion of Figurative Art Face to Face
Using advanced brain-monitoring technology, researchers at Stanford University, have reinforced what we already know. Our brains are wired to view faces and people first, more than any other object we encounter. Even as young as four months, babies’ brains are already processing faces at almost adult levels. Spikes in brain activity demonstrate that the many other non-human images the baby’s brain was trying to analyze are actually being processed in lower levels of the neurological visual system.(1)
That explains only the tiniest portion of why figurative art is so intensely interesting to its viewers. Many of the following remarkable artists exhibiting in Park City may be defined in other ways in addition to figurative, but they all share a common love in the beauty of the human form—expressed in a great number of new and sometimes surprising ways.
(1)(Journal of Vision, Norcia, Farin, Stanford Vision and NeuroDevelopment Lab, Dec. 2012)
Power of the Narrative
Gallery MAR, Fred Calleri
Figurative art can transport you to another time and place as you connect with its cast of characters and scenes. Using vintage reference photos, live models and a beautiful palette of soothing, happy color, Calleri creates figurative oil paintings with a charming nostalgic and romantic flair.
His subjects come alive and appear poised to jump off the canvas to share their stories at any moment. “The historical or ‘period’ nature of the work lends itself to a style and a palette that I enjoy, and reaches back to a seemingly simpler time,” explains Calleri.
Mountain Trails Gallery, Gene Zesch
After a long and illustrious art career beginning in 1954, Zesch has been described as the nation’s premier cowboy woodcarving caricaturist. He first received national recognition when President Lyndon B. Johnson bought some of his carvings. He explains how his experiences growing up during the Depression on a Central Texas ranch provided the inspiration for his famous figurative carvings portraying the witty and rich irony of that life. Texas Monthly aptly described the timeless appeal of his honest portrayal of the human condition, “If Mark Twain had carved instead of written books they would probably look like this.”
Terzian Galleries, Linda Lewis
Creating figurative sculptures from clay, Lewis’ narrative sculptures explore the various themes of parenthood, love, family and the search for fulfillment. Drawing inspiration from her own life, as well as from the stories others have shared with her, Lewis describes her work, “I believe storytelling connects us to one another and explains who we are. Working with clay allows me to create a world in which a story can unfold. I work with the human form because while the figure can be approachable, the presentation of its inner psyche is infinitely complex.”
Points of View
Coda Gallery, James Zwaldo
Painting each curious figure as a detailed individual portrait, familiar yet still anonymous, Zwaldo constructs captivating crowd scenes from thousands of photographs. Living and working for many years in New York City, he became interested in exploring an aerial point of view. The fascinating details in his paintings demand another glance into what seems like a story unfolding just below you, as if gazing down from a private window above the art. Zwaldo explains, “The compressed space is a map, a kind of living map, which shows a way of seeing, and a way of being in the world.”
JGO Gallery, Jane Maxwell
Mixed media collage is the medium Maxwell employs to create fascinating female images built from layers of vintage papers that have been sanded, scraped and resurfaced. She explains that her work offers a juxtaposition of women in conversation, comparison or repetition, all underscoring the role that female camaraderie and competition play in a proverbial beauty quest. While using her work to make a statement about our culture’s insistence on uniformity, she produces a visual feast of vibrant color and motion.
Meyer Gallery, Brian Kershisnik
Trying to define Kershisnik’s mesmerizing style of painting is not an easy task, not even for the talented artist himself. But that in no way deters from the paintings’ powerful magnetic pull drawing viewers into shared experiences of the human condition. He explains, “My artwork is not so much a visualization of an ideal as it is an exploration of the process that leads to an ideal.” Themes in his paintings have included everything from family gatherings around the dinner table to sibling rivalry to lovers’ quarrels and beyond. “I believe that I make paintings about being human,” said Kershisnik.
Old Towne Gallery, Henry Asencio
“I want people to feel what I am doing—not just see what I am painting,” said Henry Asencio. His sizzling depictions of graceful, sensual female forms against bold, abstract backgrounds easily reveal his intense and passionate approach to painting.
Combining vibrant, pulsating color, texture and form, Asencio creates compelling figurative drama and energy in art. Watching him paint is like observing
an intimate tango with his canvas— he boldly performs large, sweeping brushstrokes applying rich pools of pigment that bring his figures to life.
Montgomery-Lee Fine Art, Keith Larson
Figurative artists have the unique ability to create an intimate relationship between their viewers and the painted subject. It’s as if you are granted a free pass to stare much longer and more intensely at a person’s face and emotions than you would ever dare do in person, as in a socially acceptable form of voyeurism.
Thomas Anthony Gallery, Rodd Ambroson
“My work is the experience of my senses. The sculptures I create reflect the amount of quiet passion I can transfer into them,” said Ambroson. He describes
his artistic mission as creating figurative art that engages the senses, the mind and the heart all at once. His atypical artistic background includes a bachelor’s degree in fine art and a master’s in biomedical communications. Ambroson spent 20 years as a top medical illustrator before sculpting full time. In the spirit of the great Renaissance painters, his commitment to the science, mathematics and the aesthetics of his art is reflected in his stunning mastery of the human form.
Julie Nester Gallery, Jennifer Nehrbass
Sometimes it’s the very things that aren’t revealed in a piece of art that keep drawing us closer to them—the mystery and intrigue of the real story behind it all. Artist Jennifer Nehrbass explains, “These paintings speak to forbidden thoughts and desires
and also suggest that what is hidden and forbidden inside the painting is ultimately denied to the viewer. What the paintings yield is an intimacy of time and place that meanders through rich details and nuanced perplexity— bafflement being as necessary to the experience of viewing as is delicate reasoning.”
Park City Fine Art, Bill Mack
Known first for an uncommon and astounding talent in relief sculpture, Bill Mack pioneered innovative casting methods leading to a world-renowned body of figurative work. But the most current buzz
surrounding this internationally acclaimed artist all started because he is also an avid collector of art and Hollywood memorabilia.
In 2007, Mack purchased the original Hollywood sign erected on the famed Los Angeles hillside in the 1920s and began transforming it into iconic works of art. Although thought to be long since destroyed, the old letters had been in storage since being replaced in 1978. Mack explains how the pieces of rusted sign, complete with holes that were drilled to allow wind relief, create connections that, “give each painting a heartbeat, a sense of the time and place where Hollywood legends first stood atop Mount Lee next to the very sign on which their images have now been painted.”
Kimball Art Center, Faces of Summit County
Committed to engaging individuals of all ages in diverse and inspiring art experiences, Park City’s nonprofit art center, the Kimball Art Center, will be presenting a one-of-a-kind juried photography exhibition this summer in their Badami Gallery. Celebrating the art of the human countenance, the Kimball will be displaying the beauty of both recognizable, familiar figures, alongside more mysterious and obscure personalities.
“The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.”
—Marcus Tullius Cisero