New York, New York
The artwork of McWillie Chambers is both a work and a play – of light and of life. The work is in the rigorous anatomy and the graceful line, in the mastery of color and the attention to contrast. The play is in the cheerful spirit and the joy of the moment, in the narrative interrupted and the resulting interaction with the viewer. Light comes alive. And life in enlightened.
The spirit of the artwork is joyful. In the words of the artist, I'll never paint if I have feelings of anger or frustration. I'm always waiting for the days when my spirit is at its happiest. Fortunately, most day's I'm very happy!
Sidetracks Art Gallery presents a selection of painting, monotypes, woodcuts and drawings from Chambers' long career as a professional artist specializing in the male nude in natural settings. (His second specialty with nautical themes awaits another showing.) From the largest canvas to the smallest sheet of drawing paper, work and play are both in evidence.
McWillie Chambers' prints – monotypes, blockprints and woodcuts – are self produced with a hand press. This laborious and exacting procedure results in small editions, with subjects in multiple states and colors, even unique ghost prints made with the remnants of color left at the end of the run. At Sidetracks, the woodcut Ken and Curtis is shown both in 2 colors and in 5; the woodcut Taking Off II appears both as a unique ghost print as well as in 8 colors; and Arcadia I, also a woodcut, is in 5 colors.
Chambers hails from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with art studies at the Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, the Kansas City Art Salamanca in Spain. His career exhibits have been centered in the New York City area, with one-person shows at Pegasus Gallery of Manhattan in 2001, the Fischbach Gallery of Manhattan and the Barbara Levy Gallery of Cherry Grove during 2002, and at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson – which continues to represent his work.
In his studio, Steven Evans glanced around his cramped room and stated matter-of-factly, I am a painter... The only art movement that's important to me right now is what happens here. All around him – oil paint on board or on linen; varying subject in many sizes; figurative works and scenic views – each in a different stage of completion prior to Steven returning to New Hope with new paintings.
Since his days in Central Bucks High School, Steven has considered himself a painter, rooted in Bucks County. Moore, University Arts and the Academy were his workshops (together with a summer excursion to Pratt in Brooklyn). He returned to the Academy of Fine Arts for his degree, reveling in its self-directed studio approach, and for the past few years now has been honing his craft and toning his colors toward his current body of work. Sketchbooks have been filled with city street life and urban viewpoints... the places people live and move, the times of day they spend together, even the games the children play.
Much of this has been distilled into the works on view at Sidetracks. The majority of these new paintings share a relatively limited palette of six colors, straight from the tube. But Steven's brushstroke and his color-build blend in such a smooth liquid way that in finished form they have almost a watercolor presence.
New York, New York
Rachel is one of the nation's most experienced and renowned encaustic artists. In addition to her exhibition at Sidetracks Art Gallery, her work has been shown at two Manhattan galleries: Kouros Gallery and Heidi Cho Gallery.
Ms. Frieidberg has been on the faculty of New Jersey's Fairleigh Dickinson University for many years, first as a teacher of both painting and art history, and then as artist-in-residence. She presently continues as the long-time curator of the university's Edward Williams Art Gallery.
Encaustic is an ancient practice dating back to still-extant Egyptian portraits of the 2nd century A.D. (and according to some accounts to Greece in the 5th-century B.C.) It is a demanding art medium combining color pigment with heated beeswax and resin. The resulting mixture is fused directly to a wood panel or other firm support. Its luminous surface can then be either incised or built up with applications of further hot encaustic—new layers physically driven into the previous surface to bind with earlier layers. The process is both laborious and exacting – its physicality evident in the texture of the translucent surface.
It is Rachel's achievement in the 40 plus pioneering years she has worked with encaustic to harness this most ancient practice in the contemporary service of a spare and elegant sensibility.
In all her work, Rachel reveals deep ambiguities of meaning springing from personal history and expressed in personally symbolic language.
Hers is the fragile balance of opposing forces, the symbolic painted gesture that for a moment-out-of-time yearns to reconcile stark absence with the presence that both was and is now. The fleetness of memory is flung into the caldron of heated was, can both cools and solidifies into the symbolic object – the resulting artwork.
The moment so captured leaves gloriously open the possibility of personal interaction with other individual histories and symbols. Dialog could well occur, and might even continue...
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