Show Preview | Waterhouse Gallery: City Light

Santa Barbara, CA, October 13-November 5

Mark Lague, Michigan Avenue at Night, oil, 24 x 36.

Mark Lague, Michigan Avenue at Night, oil, 24 x 36.

This story was featured in the October 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art magazine October 2012 print edition here, or purchase the Southwest Art magazine October 2012 digital download here. Or subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!

Towering skyscrapers, sidewalk cafes, and streets alive with cars, buses, and taxis—the big city offers an endless source of inspiration to many of today’s contemporary artists. They capture the excitement as well as the quiet slices-of-life buried in forgotten neighborhoods.

This month Waterhouse Gallery pays homage to the city with a show titled City Light that opens with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 13. Works by nine established and emerging painters are on view, including Mark Laguë, Jonathan Ahn, Hsin-Yao Tseng, Brian Slawson, Craig Nelson, Yen-Ching Chang, Robert Watts, Brian Mark Taylor, and Fabrice Spices.

Canadian Mark Laguë shares his love of the bright lights and the big city in pieces like MICHIGAN AVENUE. “My inspiration for the painting was the way the mostly warm light was reflecting off the cars and buildings in Chicago,” Laguë says. “Chicago is probably my favorite city in the world for night compositions. Urban scenes have always been my primary subject matter. Nothing excites me more than the way light plays on architecture.”

Jonathan Ahn, The Sentinel, oil, 48 x 48.

Jonathan Ahn, The Sentinel, oil, 48 x 48.

For Ahn, the City by the Bay is one of his sources of inspiration. In his painting THE SENTINEL, he depicts a legendary downtown San Francisco building that is often called the city’s most beautiful building. It was built in 1907 and sports a distinctive, Flatiron-style facade. In his cityscapes, Ahn says, he always seeks a personality and a mood that resonate with him. “With THE SENTINEL, I wished to capture the timeless aura that accompanies antiquated structures,” Ahn says. “The building stands stoic among the bustle of civilization, her surface weathered but unconquered as the years go by.”

San Francisco was also a starting point for California-based painter Hsin-Yao Tseng. But in his work LIU BAI #1, Tseng focuses above all on style. The painting is part of a new series he is developing that combines Chinese and western philosophies of painting. “In traditional Chinese painting, there is a skill called Liu Bai, which means to fill in all the spaces on the canvas,” Tseng says. “The blank spaces allow the general surface of a painting to breathe.” Tseng also points out that the uneven borders are produced by energetic brush strokes that flare off into white, an effect that borrows from the aesthetic of Chinese brush-and-ink paintings while also reflecting such modernist concerns as experimentation and radical shifts 
in perspective.

Finally, Kansas-based painter Brian Slawson found inspiration for SUMMER DAYS, BOULDER in a smaller city—Boulder, CO, a university town with a population of 100,000 people. Slawson visits the city regularly on his way to Rocky Mountain National Park. “I usually like to paint urban scenes in the evening or night to take advantage of the artificial lights, but something about this scene just screamed everything that is great about summer days—the warm sun, cool shade beneath the trees, a brilliant blue sky, and the occasional bright white cloud. A perfect summer day,” Slawson says.

For collectors of cityscapes, this must-see show offers a treasure trove of works by top-notch painters. —Bonnie Gangelhoff

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Featured in the October 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art magazine October 2012 digital download
Southwest Art magazine October 2012 print edition
Or subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!

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