Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, November 17-December 10
This story was featured in the November 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art November 2012 print edition here, or purchase the Southwest Art November 2012 digital download here. Or simply subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!
When gallery owners Diane and Ralph Waterhouse organized their first figurative show in 2006, the event featured about 35 paintings. Today the annual Great American Figurative Show, which opens with a reception from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on November 17, includes nearly 100 artworks. Now considered among the most prestigious figurative invitationals in the West, the show attracts award-winning painters—both established and emerging—from across the country, such as Jeremy Lipking, Joseph Todorovitch, Andre Kohn, Stan Moeller, Vince Giarrano, Kim English, and Evan Wilson. It also offers a variety of styles, ranging from tightly rendered realism to loose impressionism.
A number of the works capture people going about their daily lives—which was one of the show’s original missions, says Diane Waterhouse. For example, in WAKING by Connecticut-based artist Vince Giarrano, a young woman perches on the edge of an unmade bed. Giarrano says he was drawn to the style and character of the bedroom—messy, ordinary, yet uniquely beautiful. “Along with [focusing on] my subject, Diana, I wanted the painting to tell about a young girl living on her own in New York City,” he explains.
Stan Moeller, who is known for paintings that depict slices of life on his home turf in Maine and abroad, was drawn to a Parisian scene. PARIS IN PINK portrays a woman staring into a shop window. Moeller noticed the girl while he was sipping a cup of coffee at a sidewalk café near the boutique. Many artists would have snapped some photos for reference material, but Moeller used a video camera to scan the scene—the results are the closest thing to working from life, he says. “I saw the whole painting in my head,” Moeller adds. “She just had such a ‘window shopping’ look in her eye that I wanted to capture. I came home and it was the first piece I painted in my studio.”
For a more ethereal take on the figure, Californian Joseph Todorovitch captures an angelic-faced woman standing in a field full of bubbles and butterflies. Todorovitch says FLEET represents his take on the vanitas, a type of symbolic artwork popular in 16th- and 17th-century Europe that attempted to convey the meaninglessness of earthly life and the fleeting nature of material possessions and pursuits. “Instead of portraying the visual cues of death and mortality, I chose to imply the fleeting, whimsical nature of life,” Todorovitch says. “The fleet of butterflies, which have a short and unique life cycle, move through the landscape, past a figure, and through a barrage of bubbles—a common vanitas image of the whimsical.”
Stan Moeller says that when Ralph and Diane Waterhouse first invited him to participate in the Great American Figurative Show four years ago, he didn’t hesitate to say yes because he was so impressed with the high quality of the artworks. “And I’m impressed by the passion and enthusiasm that [the Waterhouses] share for figurative paintings and the promotion of figurative art.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the November 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art magazine November 2012 digital download
Southwest Art magazine November 2012 print edition
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