Art View by Paulette Thenhaus
Four for February
Though its the second month of the calendar year, it is the New Year for downtown Galesburg art exhibits. All four art venues have new shows up this month. Lets take a peek.
GALESBURG CIVIC ART CENTER
The Art Center at 114 Main Street hosts a Knoxville sculptor, Ric Larson, and painter T J Thompson, a newcomer to town.
RIC LARSON uses welded steel as a "wiry" line in his sculptures of ballerinas and angels. They are more akin to Giacometti’s linear forms than to Degas' full-figured ballerinas. His poses capture the tension in the thin bodies before they perform. The gestures of the small elongated figures are enhanced when they are placed in pairs. Then the open spaces between and around them form interesting shapes of their own.
In an angels series, an intricate, web-like pattern of metal becomes a kneeling angel’s protective wings. Larson makes the heavy welded metal look as light and airy as lace.
T J THOMPSON is a painter of Western Art and wildlife. Indeed, he proudly hails from Colorado. There are plenty of paintings with horses. His nature portraits often include people and shafts of mysterious light (“A Star is Born”). But it is in his paintings of Galesburg's historic places, Seminary Street and the Central Congregational Church, that he breaks with conventional realist painting and becomes more romantic.
"Evening Highlights" is a nostalgic street drama, obviously set on Seminary Street in downtown Galesburg. It is a portrait of what the street might have looked like a century ago. There are horse drawn carriages, flower stalls and streetlights … and the clock. All under contemporary awnings. They are represented in the “mist” of time. He did not research old photos but rather used his own camera and imagination to construct the colorful scene.
"A Place of Community" has the familiar Central Congregational Church tower rising out of another mist. Are the paintings engaging? Yes. Are they somewhat sentimental? Yes. Yet Thompson's illustrative brand of realism does have its own magic.
On the walls at 319 East Main Street are traditional watercolor subjects: trees, barns, florals. RON HUNT taught adult water color classes at Carl Sandburg Community College, while MARILYN VAN NORMAN paints whatever attracts her attention. Both use paint sparingly in these uncomplicated, relatively small works. The show is up through March.
MARY PHILLIPS is showing both watercolors and acrylic paintings at 41 South Seminary Street. Her artwork is a breathe of fresh air. In fact, a series of four 8" x 10" canvases go by the title of “Fresh Air.” Patches of blue float in delicate earth hues. Phillips’ brushstrokes are lively and open In her abstract work.
Another series of small acrylic works, "Treasures," is precious not only in size, but also in the gold leaf loosely incorporated within them. In larger works on paper, such as "Nature Claims Itself," Phillips demonstrates her ability to orchestrate both geometric (rectangles) and organic jagged) shapes into a dynamic composition based on the push and pull of color and shape.
Representational watercolors are in an adjacent room.
KALDI'S COFFEEHOUSE & TEAROOM
TYLER HENNINGS sure knows how to paint, yet he keeps things deceptively simple. His subjects are common objects: beer cans, pencils, marbles. An example is a series of glass marble paintings. At first glance it seems to be a paintings of a marble collection. What the oils portray is just one marble, its color, subtle reflections and shadows as seen from different angles. His artistic perception is sharp. His brushwork gives individuality and life to each object. This is especially true in his insightful animal portraits. Look closely at the cat's face and you will see how fluidly Hennings changes the weight of his paint from whisker thin to furry impasto. Just look at the expression! There is an animation in his network of brushstrokes and vivid color, whether he is painting objects or beings. His exhibit opens February 13th.