Gallery 1261, October 24-November 30
This story was featured in the October 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Gallery 1261 mounts its second annual Contemporary Realism exhibition this fall, highlighting 15 artists who conscientiously observe and elevate the everyday, re-creating reality in two dimensions and sometimes tinkering with viewer perception. The group comprises gallery artists and guest artists from across the country: Gregory Block, Tony Curanaj, Scott Fraser, Greg Gandy, Jeff Legg, Janet Monafo, Alyssa Monks, Heather Neill, Kate Sammons, Daniel Sprick, Henrik Uldalen, Anthony Waichulis, Leah Waichulis, Aaron Westerberg, and Vincent Xeus.
Contemporary Realism runs from October 24 through November 30 and features 35 new figurative and still-life paintings. The gallery welcomes many of the artists at an opening reception scheduled for Friday, October 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. Curator and artist Quang Ho cites this collection as emblematic of current visual and intellectual trends. He says, “I think this is a natural course of evolution in art. The U.S. and the world have had a resurgence in representational painting in the last 30 years or so, and today there are many more accomplished artists than ever before, especially in realism. The first part of learning any discipline is the execution, and the second part is applying the mastery toward deeper concepts and seeing beyond the obvious.”
Anthony Waichulis exhibits this refined mastery of technique and concept in his signature trompe l’oeil paintings, often blurring the line between the real and the virtual. Drawn to trompe l’oeil for the ways he can incorporate landscape, still life, and other genres, he employs such a visual amalgam to make his work “more robust and enjoyable.” Waichulis remarks, “As a trompe l’oeil painter I am always chasing down the most effective way to create an extremely believable illusion of reality. However, in this pursuit of illusion, I must always work to ensure that this eye-catching representa-tion is not a distraction from the work’s meaning—but rather an invitation to explore it.” He enjoys hiding objects and symbols throughout his canvases and looks forward to viewers finding their own “Easter eggs” within each scene.
A former student of Waichulis who has been represented by Gallery 1261 since 2010, Sammons presents meticulously detailed and relatable still lifes. Through light, shadow, and color, she imbues each inanimate object with an identity of its own—at once familiar and undiscovered. “I paint in a realistic style because of the strong sense of identification I feel when I see a painting that looks like a part of my world,” she says. “Realism is the hook that draws me to an artistic picture and makes me want to look more carefully. At that point I can start to enjoy its other aspects, like personal expression, narrative, and design. When I paint a still life, I look for beautiful passages that offer me excitement when I paint and ways to communicate the initial attraction that I felt when I first conceived the idea.” In this vein, Sammons—and realist painters as a whole—can establish immediate and lasting connections with viewers. —Elizabeth L. Delaney
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