About That Show ... Virtuosity

You know good when you see it. Down on some primal, instinctive level, when you see art created by a master of his craft, you know how good it is. It moves you. It affects you.

That mastery is called … Virtuosity, which not-so-coincidentally is the next show from Lovetts Gallery.

Virtuosity opens September 13, 2014, and features Juan Medina, Brett Lethbridge, Terry Donahue and Ron Gerton.

Medina has been a professional artist for more than 30 years. Self-taught, his technique was inspired by the old masters, and his paintings often include homages to their works. Medina’s paintings most often include the female figure.

“Fantasy is inherent in art because nothing is real or absolute,” he says. “My paintings begin with an intellectual reflection mixed with my experiences. Female figure is my first choice, not only for aesthetic reasons but because they possess a past full of memories and a future full of hopes and fears. They represent all the strength and weakness a human being is capable of experiencing.”

Medina and his wife currently reside in Mexico, and his paintings are in collections and museums around the world. Each year for the past 17, one of his paintings has been included in the SNBA show at the Louvre in Paris, France.

Lethbridge is an Australian who completed a degree in law before deciding to become an artist. He studied his craft in Europe before embarking on a series of exhibitions in locations such as Singapore, Germany and New York City.

“I come from a family that valued university education and a getting a profession,” says Lethbridge. “I was fairly good at school and got the results to get accepted into law school, and so went ahead and did it. The study itself was interesting enough and I enjoyed university culture, but I always had an interest in art and continued to practice while doing the degree. After graduating I did one day of an internship but realized, fairly quickly in hindsight, that the profession was not for me. As I had no job, no family and nothing to lose, I thought I would give art a go and have never looked back.”

Lethbridge was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but moved to Cairns, Australia in the mid-1980s. Then he did “university” and law school, but chose art and moved to Europe. While living in Italy, he met his wife, who is German. They now live in Brisbane, Australia, have two children, and travel a lot. The past few years, they’ve visited the U.S. a number of times, and have started to “fall in love with the country.”

“Travel, as has been noted by many, is a wonderful way to get perspective on life,” says Lethbridge. “My favorite quote is probably T.S. Eliot. ‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’”

Encouraged by his eldest brother, Donahue began painting oil on canvas as early as fourth grade. He is best known for his kinetic depictions of primates, big cats, birds and other wildlife.

“My love of wildlife stems back to my childhood,” says Donahue. “Growing up in Duluth, Minnesota, my earliest drawings were of big game animals. However I believe what inspires me the most is when I'm out gathering photo reference. I never know what I'm going to see and the subjects I have to choose from are endless.”

Donahue no longer paints in oils, but pastels. “I initially went to pastels as a means of loosening up my style. I had been working in oils, painting as a photo realist. What I found in pastels, was the medium and challenge I was looking for. I try to incorporate, however small, what I learned from the previous work, to evolve. Most importantly, with each new piece, I'm drawing for me. If I have done these things, I have accomplished my goal.” Gerton spent the first 30 years of his professional life as a nuclear engineer before “retiring” to life as an artist. Art, for him, was a way to keep life in focus. Another self-taught artist, he is inspired by natural forms and shapes, and works in wood, metal and discarded things.

“Thrift stores abound with potential art materials,” he says. “Cast-off industrial materials are also a great source. The tens of thousands of small wood pieces from laser cutting businesses and found objects are incorporated into his wood turnings and wall pieces. Everything is a raw material for something else.”

Gerton currently lives in the Pacific Northwest, and will be making his Lovetts Gallery exhibition debut at Virtuosity.

Here is the showmap for the rest of 2014 and most of 2015:

 November 8, 2014: The Wild Bunch Starring Robert Caldwell (VA), Paul Rhymer (MD) and K. Henderson (NM).

 February 7, 2015: The Young Guns Featuring Joseph Crone (IN), Timur Akhriev (TN), Jane Radstrom (CA) and David Shingler (NC).

 June 20, 2015: The Lollipop Guild By popular demand, we're bringing back our miniatures show. It's open to the whole wide world of artists and we expect there to be a lot of tremendous work. There'll be a $500.00 prize for best of show.

 October 24, 2015: The Birds Invitational. Hitchcock. Wildlife. Bam!

There you have it. More details to come. Stay tuned. Or better yet, come visit. You don't have to wait for a show to come see awesome art or hang out in the Gallery.

Future Vision of the Past

Artists create. Constantly. They experiment. For most of them, it's a compulsion, something as integral to who they are as breathing and eating. This persistent need to make beautiful things pushes them in new directions, and we are all the beneficiaries.

Timothy Nimmo's latest experimental creation, Shamanic Vision, sees the artist perfecting a bunch of different techniques...

"Shamanic Vision sees a leopard idol through the mind's eye of the shaman or true believer," says Tim. "They see not just the idol or made object, but imbue it with the spirit of the god it pays homage to. The leopard is somewhat stiff in its hind quarters, but the head begins to move, the paw raises up as to strike, and the ferocity of the leopard god's spirit begins to animate the physical effigy.

"The concept of Shamanic Vision came from several carved Scythian big cats (presumed leopards, as the leopard is used often in other Scythian art) found in barrows in Siberia. The carvings were unique, but very similar in pose and character. They all show a snarling leopard in repose. These were obviously important to them though the actual meaning has been lost to the ages and can only be speculated on. I became captivated by them. I looked at them for hours wondering, 'What did they mean? What did they see in these? How did they come to interpret the natural animal this way?' In trying to understand this, I overlay-ed the actual animal onto the carved artifact; and thus Shamanic Vision was conceived.

"As is my usual approach, the craftsmanship is deliberately not precise in all areas. There are artifacts of the casting process intentionally left behind: a hint of a seam line, the ghost of an inclusion(pit), here and there an air bubble. These are cast art, not perfectly machined, precise industrial parts, or ideas shat out by god. As human beings, we have vestiges of our biological lives we carry with us: a navel, vaccination scars, scars from injury, the birthmark our mother had. All of these things make us unique, and could be argued as some of the major hallmarks of what it is to be human. I always want my pieces to have the feeling of something made by human hands, and not feel computer generated or machined. Especially in light of the fact that I draw so much from the art of the ancients. I want the viewer to always subliminally wonder if this is a piece of modern art or if it is an artifact which was the equivalent of some 'primitive' culture's moon shot."

The initial run of Shamanic Vision constists of 15. There will be a second edition offered with a golden patina on the bronze, and silver inlay where there is gold on this version. Lovetts collectors can see Shamanic Vision in person in the next month.

Bullfighting

You’re going to have an opinion the first time you see Timur Akhriev’s Last Moment. You’ll react to the subject matter, guaranteed, and given your proclivities, you’ll either love it or hate it. Either is acceptable. We won’t judge.

But no matter what you think of bullfighting, the painting itself is impressive. At 108” x 60”, it’s one of the bigger paintings we’ve ever displayed. It’s not quite life size, but it dominates the room. It demands you consider it.

What I like most are the two … characters in the painting’s story. A figure, a human figure in particular, is very difficult to paint. Our eyes are not so easily fooled when it comes to the human form, and we know without necessarily being able to explain why when something is right and when something is wrong.

What’s right about the bullfighter is his posture. The straight back. The perfect center-of-balance. The confidence and arrogance. He has no doubts about what he is doing. He is in command, the outcome pre-ordained.

The bull, for its part, is just as right. You can feel the power as it turns, hooves churning the earth, muscles correcting course in the fight of its life. There is no self-pity, no thought of failure. It is both tragic and beautiful. And then there’s the light of the scene itself. The soft afternoon shadows. The soft turned earth.

All of Last Moment is exactly right, which makes it good stuff whether you like the subject or not. Incidentally, my daughter and I just had this conversation about the painting. She was here in the gallery, occupying some time with me during the workday and drawing a sea turtle with colored pencils. She looked up as I was resizing the image to fit newsletter format.

Her: “What is he doing?”

Me: “He’s fighting that bull.”

Her: “Poor bull. Grrrr. Bad guy.”

Yes, she actually growled, and then she went back to coloring and didn't mention it again. Incidentally, I agree with her assessment, but it's still a magnificent painting.

Editor's Note: In between the starting and finishing of this newsletter, one lucky collector took Last Moment for his own. You're too late!!